Monday, December 08, 2008

I worked in a grocery store when I was a teenager. The store was about half as big as the average HEB stores of today, but contained more merchandise. That’s a strange phenomenon but more goods were available to satisfy the needs of the customer. We didn’t need as much in those days but we had everything to prepare a great meal.

Today it’s very frustrating to go to the store with so much merchandise, and still not find what you want. For example, there are thousands of different cereals. I like shredded wheat and there are so many choices I just end up confused. There is bite sized shredded wheat and shredded wheat with strawberries and various other fruits. There are multiple sizes to choose from but they are usually out of the old kind I like which is the original biscuit. I love oatmeal and again there are multiple choices such as one minute, two minutes and five minutes as well as instant. All the nutrition has been removed from the instant kind, which is sort of like a tasteless mush when hot water is added.

It’s that way with everything. There are multiple choices with everything except the one I’m looking for. The drug aisle is mind boggling. There are Tylenol capsules, tablets, and liquids of various flavors. It comes in a variety of strengths with and without sedatives. Of course all are so tightly sealed for security that only a child can open them. This is all the result of the Tylenol scare several years ago when a nut laced some of the stuff with poison. Everything now is tamper proof and the packaging industry has made it so that an ax is required to gain access to drugs, food, batteries and everything else. Much of the merchandise is embedded in a hard clear plastic that is impenetrable even to a gorilla. I spend much of my time in retirement opening this stuff for my spouse.

The average store is now an obstacle course. There are displays filling the aisles and it takes an experience cart pusher to avoid crashing into a two story stack of canned good are running over some old lady or a toddler. I think we should have homeless people available for driving our carts since they have the most experience with pushing shopping baskets.

I could go on for a book describing the frozen foods compare to those when I worked in a grocery store. Virtually everything is frozen today. In my time we had a small freezer box containing English Peas and ice cream. That was it. We have come a long way to stores full of nonessentials and a place where it’s often hard to get what you really need and want.

It’s even confusing shopping for the dog. When I was a kid we fed the dog table scraps and on special occasions I would give him a can of some sort of meat product for dogs. I didn’t even want to know what was in that can but it smelled pretty good. Today, there are a variety of dry dog foods with all sorts of special vitamins and protein enrichments to keep a dog healthy. I thought my dog was pretty healthy. He survived several snake bites to the face and slept outside in the middle of winter. A heartworm wouldn’t dare infect my dog.

Anyway, visiting the store today is not a pleasant task. When I do go I try to shop at a place like Sams so I can buy enough for an army. A bottle of catsup from that place is enough to last for a couple of years even with the grandkids visiting. Shopping at Sams has allowed me to have more uninterrupted porch time rather than running to Brookshires or HEB several times a day.


Blogger jeff ludwick said...

Doc, you surprise me that you have not come up with a system to at least take some of the grocery shopping stress away. Since both of my grandparents owned small general stores I was overwhelmed at the aisles and aisles of overkill and waste in grocery stores until I learned a few simple tricks:

1. I keep a sack full of empty containers in my pickup at all times. Tylenol bottles, kleenex, toothpaste, soft-soap, Qtips, all feminine hygiene boxes, etc. so that when I get to the grocery store I do not have to use excess cell phone minutes getting descriptions of various products. unfortunately this does not work in the produce section where there are over 50 varieties of apples alone.
2. When on what I know will be a difficult shopping experience I put a very expensive bottle of wine in my cart for all to see. As I fancy beer and know little about wine I figure the expensive wine will get me brownie points with store personnel and any women that I may seek out for assistance.
3. When asking women for help I always choose middle-aged to older women. It is pretty obvious to the older women that I am about as dangerous as a three-legged dog with no teeth but the younger, attractive women think EVERY man is slayed by their beauty and charm and are not anxious to direct you to the Jolly Green Giant chopped broccoli.
4. During holiday shopping, especially Labor Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas I will put a couple of packages of kitty-cat treats and gourmet canned cat food right beside my bottle of wine. Once again, even though I do not own a cat the appearance that I do, coupled with the wine, makes me look a lot more polished than I actually am.
5. Right before you check out ditch the wine and cat food in the "bargain of the day" basket while saying in a loud voice "I don't really need this wine and expensive pet food. I should just donate what that would cost to Martha's Kitchen or the local food bank." Your groceries will be bagged perfectly and store customers and employees alike will smile as you walk out the door whispering "What a sweet, sweet man!" using these tips your next trip to HEB will be a wonderful one.......

12:52 PM  

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