A Saturday morning. The text says Peapod is on its way. We’re contactless for the moment so I pop out to leave the tip envelope at the mat outside.

The knock at the door tells me the driver is there. I knock on the window and wave, as he’s walking away.

He turns back to talk to me. He’s wearing a mask, as one should. I open the window to hear.

He explains that there is something in his truck that has spilled and smells bad. He says it seems like someone spilled vinegar or something in one of the bins. It turns out it was my bin, he says, so the bags were sitting in that; you won’t want to bring them into your house; you’ll want to unpack them outside.

I thank him for the warning.

When he walks away, I step outside to get started and it’s immediately apparent what he referred to.

Oh. My. Lord. God. In. Heaven. Have mercy.

It’s not vinegar. Vinegar is strong, and sour, but this … it’s got an undertone of rot and decay along with the acrid scent.

Like sauerkraut gone bad maybe.

Like death ate sauerkraut that had done bad, and then puked it all over my groceries.

Which look fine. But do not smell that way.

I take each item out and discard the bags outside.

I wipe down all the packaging, take vegetables in for a good scrub, get refrigerated items cleaned off and put away.

But in this process I realize that they have doubled two of the bags.

Bags that held my oats, rice, bread, and flour tortillas.

All the starches.

All things that marinated in that smell and would soak it up.

It’s as if whoever was loading put those bags in first, realized they’d put them into something that would taint them, and asked someone to pull them again … then rather than get rid of that bin and start over, they just put another set of those items on top of the smelly mess.

And so it arrives at my door.

The stench is at no extra charge.


(BTW: This is not normal. I use Peapod on the regular even when there’s not a pandemic because I loathe the grocery store. I’ve never had an experience like this one.)


So once inside, even after cleaning, the stink still lingers — so pungent among some of those things that I realize the product itself has absorbed the smell, and one whole set of the items goes back out to the trash again. They have become the smell, are no longer food, and should never have come.

Paper-based packaging of everything else also reeks and all needs to go. And that trash all goes out.

And still… the smell is here. Is it on me now? I don’t know. I change my clothes and add them to the laundry and get that churning away.

Do I still smell it? Is it in my hair, or just in my nose for a while?

I don’t know.

But it’s not good.

I Febreze the whole area then go up to jump in the shower, just to make sure it’s not on me. I open the upstairs rear windows and put on the ceiling fan, in hopes of clearing this out.

I go back down to the main level later and…

It’s still here.

So now I’ve set out vinegar in one room and baking soda in another. I have lemon rinds and tea steeping on the stove to give a countering fresher scent while they hopefully do their work.

And it’s better, while I have all these competing things happening. But it’s still there, lingering below the surface.

My home is under attack from the stench.

I don’t know who will win.

But the battle… the battle is ugly. Or at least it smells that way.