Originally posted January 7, 2011...
I used to work at a store wherein we had a customer I’ll call Hazel who would phone us up every week and dictate to someone (usually me) a lengthy order that we had to find, bag, and deliver to her. This would be fine if we were a grocery retailer who offered a delivery service but we weren’t and we didn’t. But Hazel was apparently such a long-standing good customer that every week our boss would personally deliver the goods to her home. Since no one but our boss ever saw Hazel in person, we would often speculate as to why she needed necessities delivered to her every week. Maybe she was a Grey Gardens-style recluse with headscarves and raccoons living in her chifferobe. Maybe she only had half a face like Mel Gibson in that movie. Or maybe she was just a crazy, racist, social-malcontent who can’t deal with other people, like Mel Gibson in that real life. When it was revealed that Hazel’s actual malady was morbid obesity that prevented her from leaving the house, instead of becoming sympathetic to her plight, the stories about her took on Paul Bunyan status (“She’s a thousand pounds if she’s an ounce! Instead of pouring milk on her cereal, she pours bacon on her bacon!”) Anyway, this is not a Dream about Hazel, or self-imposed isolation, or even fatness, but rather how awesome it would be to just skip going to the damn grocery store all together.
Dream: Change the way things work at the grocery store.
Goal: Unachievable. I don’t buy groceries nearly enough to warrant grocers putting my advice into practice. I live really close to a Loblaws and need space in my fridge exclusively for tonic water and limes (the vodka’s in the freezer) so I tend to be one of those annoying “two items at a time” shoppers who will buy just what he needs for the next four hours of life. Regardless, grocery shopping remains a baffling ordeal that needs revision.
First, can we get rid of the effeminate names we’ve given apples? The other day I had one cashier page another because she couldn’t tell if I was buying Honeycrisp or Pink Lady. The second cashier looked at my bag pityingly and said, “He’s buying both.” And I was. But come on! Honeycrisp? Pink Lady? I like my apples delicious, okay? They should at least be given alternate names one can choose to use if one wants to. Masculine apple names, like Gunrack or Cumshot.
Also, let’s put all the organic stuff in one spot, like it used to be. The slow and steady proliferation of organic
products really dig in my craw. I don’t care if my corn flakes are organic or not, flakes are flakes, but nothing’s worse than biting into a piece of whole wheat bread that’s actually filled with twigs and pebbles, or “peanut butter” that tastes like Vick’s Vaporub. I know organic is supposedly healthier for you, but the whole movement just seems like a bit of a kick in the ass to the farmer who can no longer mass produce his food and the shopper who can’t afford the extra money for “organic” goods. If we keep all the organic in one place then all the hipster, earthy, “my shoes are made from hemp” types can all congregate there are feel superior and leave me to my Skippy.
Lastly, don’t make me guess when it comes to bags. Here in Ontario, shoppers are taxed five cents for every plastic bag they use. I agree with this tax, it keeps our plastic consumption down and encourages reusing. But the trouble is, cashiers don’t want to be accused of bilking customers out of their money unnecessarily, so if a customer requests a bag, he must decide how many he needs. I never, ever know the answer to that. If I have a basket full of groceries and I’ve forgotten to bring a bag with me (which I always do, I feel stupid carrying an empty plastic bag to the store, like I’m inviting dogs I don’t know to shit in front of me because I’ve got an empty bag in my hand, y’know?) the conversation with the cashier will be as follows:
Cashier: Do you need any bags today?
Cashier: How many?
James: I don’t know, one bag?
Cashier: Just one? For all this?
James: Um… forty-seven bags?
Just tell me how many bags I need! You spend all day bagging your merchandise, you should know how many is required. It’s like plugging a parking meter (“Let’s see, we’re returning this sweater and buying some batteries and having lunch? How long is that, six hours?”). I’m just an idiot, is what it comes down to. But until my idiocy is considered a handicap or medical condition that will allow me to be an invalid like Hazel, I’ll just have to man up in search of my Honeycrisps, and whatever else is in store for me.