Stop & Shop. But First, Stop and Take a Deep Breath

I don’t mind food shopping.   In fact, I would go so far as to say that I actually kind of like it.  In the face of the chaos of these past several months, I find myself almost craving the repetitious, rhythmic calm of walking through the aisles plucking the same items from the same shelves week after week.  When I enter the market I find a cart with a cup holder; not for a cup or to hold a scanner, but to loop my reusable bags to avoid their wasting precious cart space.  I then pull a Purell wipe from the dispenser (when it isn’t empty) and rub it along the handle in a (vain?) attempt to de-germ it and proceed towards the produce.  It is an easy, predictable, mindless routine.  But, this is my blog and therefore, you know that something is going to happen, right?

Well, it all started off normally which, in hindsight, should have been a warning to me given the way things tend to go down when I am around.  I wiped the handle of the cup holder-less cart (was that an omen of some sort?), grabbed some bananas, baby carrots and fresh rolls and, after having pulled my number for the deli, took my position in the group of people awaiting fresh turkey and mortadella.  Today was going to be easy – they were a scant three away from my number and it appeared that the deli was well staffed which is not something that one can assume at this particular store.  Feeling the calm already.

I completed my order (turkey, maple honey ham, sharp cheddar, American, roast beef and, as a special treat this week, liverwurst.  I know – gross.  I have never actually tasted it, but Rich and Harrison are fans…) and began my departure out of the first section and rounded the corner to (what I expected to be) the “Sale Aisle” the items of which I am always a sucker for.  Imagine my surprise when I was greeted instead by the organic/gluten-free/fancy stuff which, I know from years of experience, are supposed to reside in the very last aisle of the store. As I continued on what was supposed to be my weekly Zen experience, I will admit  to darting my head around in the air (for what, I do not know) wondering if this was a joke, a hidden camera prank or, perhaps worst of all, a sign of things to come.  Sonofabitch, it was.

From there on out the entirety of this enormous store had been completely revamped representing not a shadow of its former self.  I felt perspiration erupting on my upper lip and on the back of my neck in recognition of my increasing understanding that my world was about to be turned upside down.  Again.  Is nothing sacred?  Seriously…it is one thing to have your male born child come to you professing his need to be a girl, but taking the rug that is the supermarket experience right out from under a (increasingly fragile) woman’s feet is quite another.  I took a deep breath and continued to make my way through the aisle, cursing the management that thought this was a good idea.

I will admit that I did start to think that I was crazy and that my reaction was unfounded but took great comfort each time I made eye contact with another customer who was equally exacerbated by the experience.  It almost felt like more than I could bear which I know sounds unreasonable, but my beaten up (down?) psyche could not control how it felt.

The metaphor is so strong as to be funny.  First, my family structure and everything that I had come to know as a mother for the first ten years of George/Jessie’s life was tossed in the air and has been in something of a free fall ever since.  And now, the placement of my Cheerios and Spaghettios (don’t judge – my mother let me eat them and look how I turned out) in the market I have been patronizing for as many years is in a free fall of its own.  Is this some form of collusion?  What’s next…are they going to rearrange everything from the shelves at CVS, too?  (Actually, now that I think of it they did that a couple of years back.  Perhaps that is when it started in earnest; the plot to mess with my head to the point of no return.)

I am happy to report that I made it through my shopping and only had to loop back ten or eleven aisles to find something I had missed the first time.  It wasn’t my fault…if they hadn’t moved it everything would be okay.  Or would it?

30 thoughts on “Stop & Shop. But First, Stop and Take a Deep Breath

  1. Isn’t that the absolute truth!!! I assume the various stores do it to “change things up, keep it fresh”….but I sure like it much better the way it was!!!

  2. I JUST came home from the SAME Stop and Shop! … and I, too, found myself wondering why any management would feel the need to upend a perfectly functional store … argh …

  3. If it is any consolation in this temporary period of your everything-going-wrong life, you are becoming one hell of a writer…..

  4. I feel your pain. That is why I hate to go to a market that I am not used to going to. I end up wasting an extra 20 minutes walking around aimlessly looking for stuff! And if that wasn’t hard enough, try finding someone in the aisles who works there that is able to tell you where the green olives are located!

  5. On the downside, I got lost in there yesterday too. On the upside, I saved 70 cents a gallon at the pump out front. On the downside, that means I spent over $700 there in the past two weeks alone (which translates, in my mind, to at least ten to fourteen pairs of sneakers/shoes I will never buy). On the upside, my family has wholeheartedly embraced the switchover from Market A to Market B as Market B brand of potato salad, ice cream bars, and rice pilaf were met with across the board approval. And that’s saying something. Put down those spaghettios and pick up some pilaf, you nut.

  6. I know what you are going thru, but eventually it should make sense to you. It will take awhile, tho and until you really get used to it, it will be frustrating.

    I’ve spent the past 12 years working in a big box store like the Wal-Mart Supercenters except we were doing it 30 years before Sam Walton opened his first store. Back in 2005, they re-arranged the whole store other than grocery (that came later and not quite as drastic). It took about three months with them actually putting whole aisles on wheels and dragging them around. You could be walking down a wide aisle in the houseware area and find they had an aisle of hardware merchandise sitting in the middle of the walking path. Next night, it would be somewhere else. So, it wasn’t quite so sudden or “overnight” as what you ran into but, as an employee working just the weekend midnight shift, I would wind up walking the store each night I came in just to find out where the stuff had moved to so i could help the shoppers.

    As I told shoppers back then, over time as they get new product, things wind up being shelved in odd places–sometimes just where they could be fit in. By revamping the store, they brought things back together where they made sense. With us, for example, crockpots and coffee makers were not in housewares. They were in small appliances several aisles away, mixed with hair curlers and irons and an aisle over from radios and televisions. Now, they are part of housewares where they should have been to begin with.

    As I said, it takes time to make sense of everything and I understand your problem. You need calm and the reassurance that somethings will never change–and suddenly they did. In my store, seven years later, I am one of probably only a few who can look at an area and remember what used to be there.

    If you can survive the changes in Jessie and still stay sane, you can survive the changes in the store. Until then, pull out the old security blanket and make use of it again.

  7. Oh gosh, you have me laughing at 6:30 in the morning. Thank you for your ability to find humor in all these challenges, and then for sharing that with us.

  8. I am still trying to get over the 2009 revamping of my local Target. In my life, a George-to-Jessie type of makeover would have me huddled in a corner, rocking back and forth and drooling. You are awesome for facing each day, whether with strength and humor or fear and loathing. Either way, you face it, and that’s more than some of us could do.

  9. I love that you “Boston” people call it the “market”. Having grown up there, but my parents being transplants, they never called it the “market” but everyone else did.
    Now, in Virginnie, we call it the Giant, although there is some debate over whether it is “the Giant” or “Giant”.
    That’s not really what you were aiming at, huh? In my post-insomniac night, I am clearly just reading the surface of things.
    Shit, I saw the picture you posted and was worried you had gotten into another accident. Small favors,huh?

  10. My husband was shouting “Damn right!” at intervals as I read him the tale of your mixed up market adventure. This is his enormous pet peeve. Drives him to frothing at the mouth. We don’t have kids. Not sure if there is a connection there…
    I am so glad i found you through Karen’s baking blog!

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