I can remember going to PT, which was the local grocery store, and buying doughnuts filled with sugar icing that oozed out with each bite. Ooze and bite probably shouldn’t be used in the same sentence but I’m gonna leave it as is because it’s a good memory. As a kid, shopping for doughnuts and other food at the grocery store seemed easy. You rode to the store with your mom, got a shopping cart, put everything you wanted into the cart, moved everything from the cart to the conveyor belt so the checkout girl could punch the price into her register, gave the girl your mom’s money, went home, and ate everything that you had put into your cart. Easy enough. But something changed.
I went to the grocery store the other day. Sure, I had to drive myself but when I got into the store I realized that grocery shopping was no longer easy enough. First, I had to decide which size shopping cart I needed for all of my groceries. What happened to ‘one size fits all’ in the cart department? A small load will fit in a big cart but a big load won’t fit in a small cart; just give me a big cart and save me one decision.
The deli was the first stop where I put things into my chosen cart. “I’ll take a pound of turkey, sliced,” I said to the deli lady-the one who talks deli to me. That’s what I’ve said for over 30 years when I wanted sliced turkey to put on a sandwich and it always worked out well for me-I had a nice turkey sandwich when I got home. That doesn’t work anymore. I can have my turkey sandwich when I get home but I can’t just say, “sliced”. “What number slice do you want?” asked the deli-lady. “Ah, the ‘I want to put it on a turkey sandwich’ slice,” I said. I didn’t know how to order slicing. I never had to do it before. What happened to just plain old ‘sliced’? Not shaved or chipped or diced, but sliced? My deli lady abruptly motioned toward the 10-point slicing scale that sat on top of the deli counter. “Pick a number,” she said. Panicked, like I am when I go to the DMV and there are so many directions to follow that I’m not sure what to do, I picked a ‘2’. She made a slice and held it up for everyone in the store to see. “Is this good?” she asked, “Do you want to taste it?” Ah, no, I don’t want to taste it. I don’t think that will help me to decide if the slice is right. Just give me the turkey, sliced.
I continued adding things to my cart and then it was time for a few more not-so-easy enough decisions. I got to the checkout counter and had to decide if I wanted the checkout person to scan the items in my cart, or if I wanted to scan them myself in self-checkout. I don’t usually check myself out, except when I’m leaving for somewhere special, so I went with the checkout person. But that led to a few more decisions. “Paper or plastic?” Ah, I want a bag; one that holds my stuff so I can carry it to the car and into my house. “Are you are rewards member or not?” Wouldn’t shop here if I weren’t a member. That plastic rewards card holds a lot of power when it comes to my shopping bill. “Cash, credit, or debit card?” Ah, what happened to someone else paying? Where’s my mom? “Do you want any extra?” Unless you are giving me extra from someone else’s account, just stick with the total on the bill.
What happened to easy enough grocery shopping? I just want to get in, get my icing oozing doughnut and sliced turkey, go home, and eat it. While choices are good, there’s a tipping point and I think we’ve reached it.