Tale of Woe: My First Trip to Aldi's

I love Walt Disney World. Very, very much. I am not alone. The reason I know I’m not alone is because there is a very popular message board called DISBoards. It’s where all the Disney freaks hang out and talk about how much they love Disney and what their favorite Disney attraction, hotel, restaurant, etc. etc. is. I used to hang out there all the time (not as much now because I’m busy) because yes, I love Disney, but also because people there talk about anything and everything under the sun. Well, except for politics and religion. Those two topics got banned. People may share a love of Disney, but often that’s where the common interests ended. Some of the stuff that was posted during the 2008 election – yeah, not good. But I’m digressing.

As for me? I’m a nerd and I’ll read pretty much anything even if it has absolutely nothing to do with me. A post about a colonoscopy? Sure, why not? A post about how some woman’s husband is cheating on her? Yep.

Anyway, there’s a Budget Board on the DIS. People talk about ways to save money. And being the cheapinista I am, you know I’m all over that.

A couple of years ago, I noticed that people kept mentioning Aldi’s. Aldi’s? What the heck is that, I thought.  I was nosy, so I read. Apparently, it’s a grocery store that specializes in generic items and it’s CHEAP.

I had to leave it at that because I’m in Texas and Aldi’s appeared to be a North thing.

But Aldi’s came to town last year. *Cue the happy dance music*

Last night, I made my first (of many) visits. However, things didn’t go quite as planned.

I walk into the place and look around. Um, where are the grocery carts? I turn in a circle. No carts. Other patrons are walking around pushing them, so I know they have them. Do they not have enough? It is a pretty small place. But there aren’t that many people in there. Are they stored somewhere else in the store?

I can’t ask somebody because it’s probably a stupid question, and I don’t like looking stupid.

I figure I’ll stumble on to them at some point, so I venture farther into the store. And yep, there’s the generic, cheap stuff I was promised. I like cheap. So I wander around the store looking at everything.

At some point, it dawns on me that the grocery carts are probably outside and I just missed them. I also remember reading on the DIS that they “rent” the carts for a quarter, so employees don’t have to waste time wandering the parking lot gathering scattered carts. You get the quarter back when you return the cart.

I have no problem with this EXCEPT I rarely pay cash. I charge everything to a credit card and pay it off at the end of the month, so I can rack up the air miles, Disney points, cash back or whatever. But there are also some items I want to get, too many for me to carry in my hands. So I go outside and look around. Yep, there the carts are – to the left of the door. I’d entered from the right and completely missed them.

I open my wallet, praying I have a quarter inside. And that would be a no. Maybe I have one in my car? I head that way and a lady calls out from her car that you need a quarter to get a cart. I answer sheepishly, “I know, but I don’t have one.” She very generously gives me a quarter. Yay for human kindness!

I’m back in business! I get the cart, head back inside, load up my cart and head to the checkout counter. Um, yeah, they charge $.10 for bags. Didn’t know that. This is when I notice other people walking around with their own bags. Alrighty, then.

I figure the cashier is going to ask me if I want to purchase bags, but she doesn’t. She just loads the cart. And, not wanting to risk embarrassment, you know I wasn't going to ask.

I go to pay and whip out the credit card. She asks if I want cash back. I say no. I swipe my credit card. It asks for a pin number. I look at her and say I have a credit card.

Her response? "We don’t accept credit cards. Cash or debit only."

Er, um, what?

Remember how I said I rarely have cash? Yeah, that’s still true. I also don’t keep much cash in my checking account because I don’t need to because I DON'T PAY FOR THINGS IN CASH. Bills that can go on the credit card and I pay everything else online at the beginning of the month when I get paid. Most of what’s left over goes to the savings account.

I quickly wrack my brain to remember how much I have in checking and breathe a sigh of relief. I should have enough to cover it. I whip out the debit card and slide it through the machine.

Pin number? After a momentary blank, I punch it in. The card is declined. Did I not remember how much was in the checking account? But the cashier says I entered the wrong pin. Oh, thank God. Let’s try this again. Success!

I wheel the cart out to my car, praying that I have a bag amongst all the junk in the back seat. And I do. I put as much as I can into it and throw the rest in the backseat. I return the cart and get the quarter back.

I leave and head straight to McDonald’s for some comfort food and a desperately needed frozen strawberry lemonade.

And thus concludes Jamie’s embarrassing tale of the day.