A few years ago, I became our household’s primary grocery shopper. “No problem,” I thought. “I got this. I totally know where everything is.” Upon returning from my first trip to the store, my wife informed me that we, as a family, needed more than just Fritos and beer, and I needed to go back and try again. Apparently, there’s a list with lots of other stuff on it.
I have since gotten the hang of it, and I now know where everything is inside of our local Winco even better than I do our Home Depot, which is really saying something. I even write out the grocery shopping list in order of the route I will take through the store. I’m that good.
So, when a friend was raving to us about another grocery store’s online shopping system, where you just tell them what you want and set a time to pick it up, I surprised myself by immediately dismissing the idea.
My stated reason for wanting to continue shopping for my own groceries? I don’t want someone else picking out my tomatoes.
After my wife stopped rolling on the floor in a fit of hysterical laughter, I had a quiet moment of self-reflection and realized why she thought that reaction was so funny. Namely, we both know I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing at the grocery store.
Sure, I’m efficient in my shopping route through the store, but the actual shopping itself – picking out the best produce, for example – remains a complete mystery to me. I am pretending to know what I’m doing the entire time.
Is this melon ripe? Let me knock on it and listen. What am I listening for? No idea, but I saw someone else do that once. Sounds great. I’ll take it.
How firm or soft should a tomato be? Beats me. These look red. I’ll take them.
Are these pineapples ripe? Great question. No clue. I’ll take that one.
What constitutes a good onion? That lady who looks like she knows what she’s doing just grabbed one that looked kinda like this one. Perfect.
And don’t even get me started on cilantro and Italian parsley. Why do they keep those two things even remotely close to each other? They look IDENTICAL! Do you know what doesn’t enhance salsa very much? Italian parsley. Do you know what makes pasta carbonara taste weird? Cilantro. They should be on opposite ends of the store with large identification signs. Not sitting right next to each other, dammit!
At least with grapes I can actually eat one. I’m amazing at picking out grapes. They look at you funny when you start munching on the Italian parsley.
The only thing on the list besides grapes that I’m truly qualified to choose with any authority is beer. I don’t need to taste it to pick out a good one. (FYI – If they do catch you in the walk-in beer cooler wearing a parka and sampling the different varieties, they kick you out of the store. Happened to a friend…)
Then there’s the other problem of me constantly buying things that aren’t on the list because I see them on the shelf and think, “Ooh, do we need mustard? I don’t remember seeing any last time I looked in the pantry. Better grab a couple bottles.” Then I get home and set the two new bottles in the pantry next to the fifty-two bottles of mustard currently taking up an entire shelf. Perfect.
Then there’s the irrational fear I have every single time I’m in the store - the fear of leaving my cart alone. Every time I park my cart outside the beer cooler, I have the same idiotic thought run through my head as I reach for the door handle - “What if someone steals my stuff?”
I’m still inside the damn store! I haven’t paid for any of this yet. What am I worried about? If someone takes something from my cart, it would just be annoying. I haven’t been harmed in any way. And it wouldn’t even be considered stealing on their part. At worst, it’s just a dick move, and at best, it’s just a convenient mobile shelf they happened to pass by. Yet, every time I leave my cart alone, I feel like I’m leaving all my worldly possessions out on the sidewalk in front of the 7-Eleven while I go inside to use the restroom.
Besides not being very good at it, I guess shopping is a little stressful for me as well. This online ordering thing might not be a bad idea after all. Let’s face it, the person who is going to pick out my tomatoes works at the store. They are probably infinitely more qualified to get me the perfect tomato than I am.
I think I might give it a shot. I’ll have to look into… wait a second. I forgot. What about samples?
If I use the online ordering, they meet me at my car with the groceries. I never even get to go inside. How will I get the samples from all the little stations around the store?
Forget it. I’m not willing to sacrifice my store sample lunch for a little convenience and an actually ripe pineapple. I’ll do my own stressful shopping, thank you very much.
See you soon,
Copyright © 2017 Marc Schmatjen
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