So True It’s Funny

A few weeks ago, Cora and I were visiting my grandparents in Washington state.  One morning, Cora and I went to downtown Portland, OR to meet some dear friends for breakfast.  While I was there, Cora had her first chai.  She was dignified, ya’ll.

And then while Cora was frolicking in a fountain, my grandma called and asked me to pick up two pies for a *wake they needed to go to.  Rather than drive my soggy girl to a grocery store nearer their house, I decided to pick up the pies at a downtown Safeway I’d noticed a few blocks from where I’d parked the car.

I didn’t have any grocery bags with me (unheard of in the Pacific northwest), but I didn’t think much of it as I wrangled Cora’s stroller into the store.  I found my pies and managed to juggle them and the stroller to the front of the store.  I knew there was no way I could hand-carry the pies all the way to the car, so I asked the clerk for a bag.  She handed me a paper bag – with no handles.  (But very compostable.  Which is important even in the fast-food restaurants up there.)

I pointed out my problem (no handles/stroller) and asked if she had another bag with handles.  And this is essentially what transpired.  In Portland.  No joke.  When I saw this video from the show Portlandia, I nearly croaked with laughter, because I was as embarrassed and humiliated as the 30Rock country bumpkin is in this video when I asked my question.

Ok, maybe it wasn’t quite so dramatic. But close.  I felt so guilty for even asking that I explained I hadn’t planned on coming to the store, and she briskly quipped, “Yeah. That happens to some people. They’re the ones who buy these bags.”

The plastic bags were kept under the counter – contraband anyone? – and cost me $.10. I was surprised it wasn’t more. I walked out with my un-environmentally-friendly head hung between my knees. I was definitely the only person on the street with a non-reusable/non-compostable bag. I wanted to shout, “I really am greener than this! I’m sorry!”

In my imagination I’m the kind of person who could easily fit into Portland.  I love that city, and I love fast food restaurants that compost.  But then again, who am I kidding? I’m from a small West Texas city where our city flag could easily be a mesquite bush with a plastic bag snagged on it waving in the wind.


*Pies for a wake?  I wondered the same thing.  Grandma and Papa seemed awfully chipper as they drove off to it, and even wondered aloud why I wasn’t taking Cora and going with them.  (Have you seen how rambunctious and unruly this child is!?  Why do they need to ask?  And why are they taking pies to a wake? And why do they want us to go along when we don’t know the guy?)  Then I found the invitation to the wake on the table… from 3 weeks ago!  I was so very confused.  Turns out the “wake” was really a birthday party for one of their friends with a wry sense of humor.  The gifts went into a coffin.   

5 thoughts on “So True It’s Funny

  1. THAT was hilarious! I guess we are just not so green down here yet…though I do want to bring my own bags…
    BUT, I KNOW myself, I would TOTALLY forget like that guy in the video. That was so very funny…and I loved the visual of you pushing Cora in her buggy with those pies…

    Last year we went to D.C. and I had a similar experience at the 7-11. I had to buy bags…who knew?

    Happy Friday, Carrie!


  2. I have lurked/followed your blog for years, but took the last several months off of all of my blog reading. Tonight I spent half an hour going back and reading the last 6 or so months of your blog, and I have to say that your words are a balm to my stressed out soul. I always loved reading about the foster home, but your posts on parenting hit me hard. I can remember feeling those feelings for my child when there was only one of them, but now I get lost in the busyness of it all. So thanks for reminding me to…Slow down. Breath. Pay attention. I will blink, and it will be over. You are a blessing. (And this post cracked me up. I also needed a good laugh:)


  3. @Shari – I thought that must be my grandparents, too. I was a little relieved when I found out they weren't looking forward to a funeral but instead a birthday party. 🙂

    @Laine – My main problem is that I pride myself on “being green.” It was humbling, to say the least. I'm not green enough for Portland. 😉

    @Kelly – I know. A dose of humility rarely feels good.

    @Amy – Your comment blessed me in a deep, deep way. (And I'm not even sure you're going to see this now that so much time has passed.) I have struggled with writing since leaving China – simply because life “feels” less significant now. I know that is crazily untrue. But it is often how I feel, and so to be told that you actually find my current writing to be more of a blessing than my past is a HUGE blessing to me. This is a perfect example of what I wrote about today – speaking life and goodness and love and truth into the people around us. Thank you for doing that for me.


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