Went food shopping this morning and things became tense at the french fry freezer case. There’s only one brand of fries we like..not your store brand or Ore-Ida or microwave fries, but those awesome fries they serve at Checkers and Rallys fast food joints. You can buy ’em by the bag, stick ’em in the oven and fall into a french fry rapture.
Well…it seemed some dude decided he needed to camp out in front of the exact spot where the Checkers/Rallys fries were sitting, all plumped up and waiting for an adoring family to take them home. The guy wasn’t doing anything. He wasn’t looking at the various brands and types of fries and he certainly didn’t seem worthy of a bag of Checkers fries. He just stood there, hanging onto his cart in a trance, looking like he was coming down from his last shot of heroin. The normal protocol of just saying “excuse me” didn’t seem like it would be effective because the guy appeared separated from reality. So I circled around and around until I used the only other tool in my box that had a chance of not inciting violence…I just sidled my cart next to his, gave him a steely look that said, “I wanna get into the fuckin’ Checkers fries.” That’s really all it took. He quietly moved away, gave me a sorrowful look, while muttering, “oh, excuse me.”
One thing I can pretty much depend on, is when I go to my favorite store everything will be where it was the last time I visited. My cart pushes itself to the cold beer, unhealthy snacks, Wheaties, windshield wipers and shoe laces. You’ll notice I didn’t mention produce. Heh. Anyway. A month or two ago we noticed dozens of construction trailers jammed into the parking lot of our go-to store. When I got home I logged onto the township’s planning and zoning website and staring me in the face was proof of the impending personal trauma…a notice of permit for “renovations and remodeling” of my favorite store.
Now don’t get me wrong. The store was built in the early 1990’s and is sorely in need of an update. An update is fine. Throwing my life into disarray is not.
The first thing that occurred was the doors located on the left and right hand side of the store were eliminated, replaced by a new set of doors smack in the center of the building. Big deal you say? How insensitive. My wife and I always…ALWAYS park in either row G or H, putting us closer to the right hand doors that led in and out of the grocery part of the store. Never A or B or anything in between. With G and H no longer holding their advantage we were forced to plot a new strategy, ending up in E or F, closer to the new center doors. It was as if we were lost children, wandering into a new neighborhood with strange cars and SUVs, unfamiliar cart corral locations and a completely new scheme for handicapped spaces. You can imagine our confusion and fear we’d exit the store and have no idea where we had parked. Well, once we got over the trauma of the relocated doors things only got worse. Today, fully two months into the “renovation” we found inside sections our store draped in what looked like behemoth shower curtains. Just what are they hiding from us? Are they installing a new department featuring self-driving baby strollers? Keurigs that mix individual cocktails? Perhaps rooms where exasperated spouses can chill, and drink Keurig cocktails while their better halves play bumper carts with other shoppers. Essentially every food aisle was in a different place. Our Wheaties, usually found in aisle 13 were now in 8. Tissues were always found in the aisle next to the juice, yogurt and milk coolers. But the shelves that once held those paper products were actually ripped out, the vestiges of its former footprint only an outline in the 25 year old floor tiles. WHERE ARE THE FREAKIN’ TISSUES!!! THEY’RE ON SALE BUT THE TISSUE AISLE IS GONE…GONE!
Ok. Big cleansing breath. We scurried up and down every aisle remarking, “the ice cream is here now? Why’s the soup where the ant spray used to be? All the beer is adjacent to the oatmeal. What’s with that? But no tissues. Sure…plenty of napkins and paper towels and paper plates, but where were all the boxes of the clandestine Kleenex? My wife and I were tempted to chug from a bottle of Crown Royal..incidentally now located where the mouse traps were once displayed. Desperate, my wife found a store employee who looked at her sympathetically and led her to the new home of the tissues…across from automobile anti-freeze! She patiently explained that every time they rip out a row of shelves to work on the area they move that stuff to this new, temporary location. There was a sign with this information only it wasn’t located where you expected to see an item…it was at the new location where you wouldn’t know to look in the first place.
Frankly, by the time we got to the checkouts, which, thankfully, are still in front, we were ready for a quick detour to health and beauty aids for hits of Advil and wrinkle remover.
With all of our items paid for and safely bagged all that was left was to find our car. I resisted every urge to hit my key fob panic button to activate the horn so our Jeep would call out to its desperate owners. “Here I am, losers! Here I am! Please trade me in! “ We gingerly trod into the alien aisle E, suffering the mocking looks from a Range Rover, disparaging whispers from an over-confident Subaru and our impatiently waiting Jeep imploring us to “just get in.”