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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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The Full Suburban: Grocery story mix-up leads to … mixers?

Julia Ditto and two of her sons power through a trip to a grocery store in 2016.  (Courtesy of Michelle Giles)
Julia Ditto and two of her sons power through a trip to a grocery store in 2016. (Courtesy of Michelle Giles)
By Julia Ditto For The Spokesman-Review

I have a difficult relationship with grocery stores. While I recognize what a blessing it is to just be able to walk into a store and get what I need for my family, I still loathe the process. The wandering, the calculating, the loading, unloading and reloading of the groceries; it’s all just a lot to handle.

And because I have what some might call “a ridiculous amount of kids,” my average trip to the grocery store nets what most people would bring home only if they were hosting a Super Bowl party for the neighborhood.

“You must be throwing a party,” the friendly checker will say as I load four dozen eggs, three gallons of milk, five loaves of bread and six cartons of ice cream (they were buy one, get one free – don’t judge!) onto the conveyor belt.

I wrestle a car-sized bag of cat food out of the cart and plop four bags of Doritos on top of it. “Nope!” I reply. “I just have lots of kids!”

A few years ago, I had had an exhausting day but still needed to go to the grocery store after the kids were in bed because we were out of pretty much everything. It was a rainy and cold night, but I dragged my tired body through each aisle of the store, through the checkout line and then back out into the pouring rain.

Already exhausted and now just a little bit depressed, I hurriedly starting grabbing bags from my cart and putting them in the back of the Suburban, hoping to get the ordeal over with sooner rather than later.

One bag was particularly heavy (laden with cans of vegetables, or maybe six cartons of ice cream), and as I started lifting it, the handle broke, my hand jerked back, and … I punched myself in the face. No joke. I started crying right there in the parking lot.

Now, with COVID-19 raging, I have occasionally taken advantage of curbside pickup, where I am much less of a danger to myself. I most recently used this miraculous grocery store service the day before New Year’s Eve, when I did my shopping online and then sent Logan to the store to pick up the order.

After he’d returned home and I’d found a spot for everything I’d ordered, I noticed two extra bags sitting on the counter. “What are these?” I said, taking a look inside.

I was surprised to find vodka, wine, fancy flatbread that I would never buy but smelled divine, two bags of chips, onions and limes. It was obviously the makings of someone’s New Year’s Eve party that had somehow ended up mixed in with my very sober grocery order.

“Oh, man, I’m pretty sure someone’s party just got a whole lot lamer,” I said to Logan as I dialed the number of the grocery store to report the mix-up.

After I explained what had happened, they assured me that the bereft party-thrower would get a whole new order, and, since they couldn’t take the food back, we could keep everything.

Over the next few days, we glutted ourselves on the windfall of fancy flatbread and chips. But for nondrinkers like us, the alcohol had us stumped.

“What are we going to do with this bottle of wine and vat of vodka?” I asked Logan a week later after the bottles had sat on our pantry floor like a couple of confused frat boys who had stumbled into a monastery.

“Let me ask around at work,” he replied. The next day, Logan had already left by the time I woke up and started getting breakfast ready for the kids. I looked in the monastery pantry and noticed that the alcohol was gone.

“A couple people at work said that if I brought it to them, they would take care of it,” Logan explained when he got home that night. “They were pretty excited about our grocery order mix-up.”

I’m glad to hear that the grocery store is at least making someone happy.

Julia Ditto shares her life with her husband, six children and a random menagerie of farm animals in Spokane Valley. She can be reached at

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