Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Grocery store fetish

I'm a good grocery shopper.

My first experiences in the supermarket area involved pushing a cart for my Mom as a precocious tweener. Years later I would be retrieving carts and bagging groceries at the same Alpha Beta to the tune of $6.50 an hour. Some time after that I found myself counting the tills, filling the dairy box, and locking up the store as a Night Manager working the 3 to Midnight shift.

I had just graduated high school and was making $13.75 an hour, time and a half on Sunday, triple pay on holidays. I was king of the world, baby.

I worked 7 years in the supermarket (what we called 'em back in the day -- out here, they're called grocery stores) biz and have many fond memories of my hours spent in those wide aisles filled with food and household items.

I also became nearly unbeateable at the Grocery Guessing Game (higher or lower) on The Price is Right.

One might say then, due to my professional experience in that arena, that I am a grocery shopper with a tad keener eye to the goings-on at my local food emporium. That said, a typical foodstuff shopping junket normally takes me less than an hour tops, and that's only if I don't have a specific list or coupons at the ready.

If I had a list and knew exactly what our "little house-not-on-but-nearby the prairie" needed, I would be in and out in less than 20 minutes.

Yep, I'm that good.

Yesterday's foray into the local food and grocery establishment took a record 2 hours 12 minutes.

No, I didn't have a list.

Yes, I did peruse my coupon collection.

But that isn't what took so long.

What kept me in the brightly florescent lit aisles for a good part of my morning block of time was the number of people I ran into (or ran into me) that I knew (or who knew me) or PK new (or who knew PK).

7 people - just about every customer in the store at 9 :30 a.m. on a weekday - stopped to chat, visit, preach, ponder, question, inquire or comment with me, my stainless steel cart full of the weeks edibles, and my rambunctious 3-year old.

There are 11 aisles in my small town grocery store. That makes .63 people per aisle that I visited with.

We discussed everything from what I'll need to get C when she starts softball next week, to why tumbling practice 2 days a week is too much for some people.

We spoke in hushed tones as we discussed the new Wal-Mart Supercenter that is rumored to be coming to town, and gesticulated wildly when describing the recent twister twins that visited 30 miles south of us.

We growled angrily at the gas prices ($2.75 for regular in our town), questioned whether it was too early to get a good watermelon, and generally agreed that the best strawberries do come from California.

I even drew a small crowd as I lectured on the rumor that some soy sauce is made using an enzyme extracted from human hair...only to reassure them that none of the soy sauce on the shelves at our store were that kind.

I don't ever recall my Mom being stopped by anyone while shopping in my youthful days as an apprentice grocery shopper. My Mom is no nonsense, blitzkreig shopper and I'm thinking she gave off a "working-woman-too-busy-to-stop-and-chat" vibe during her outings into grocery gettin' nirvana.

However I do have firsthand knowledge of several mother's of childhood friends of mine who were grocery shoppers extraordinaire, that would spend more than 2 hours per outing cruising the aisles, looking for sales, checking expiration dates, and chatting it up with friends and acquaintances in the wonderous place known as the supermarket.

Janice and Doris, you humble me.

1 comment:

gawfer said...

gas prices in California...

I paid 3.219 for regular this morning, and rumor has it, it has reached the $4.00 mark up in Malibu