Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Hunter Gathering

According to some sources ancient civilizations broke out into two types of folks. Some drank Coca-cola, and others preferred,.... no wait, that's not it. Some used Miracle Whip on their sandwiches while others chose....wait, what?

Here we go - some were settler types, growing crops, domesticating animals, and others were hunter-gatherers, wandering around living off the bounty of the land.

Recent reasonably successful attempts at growing tomatoes aside, I fall squarely into the modern version of the hunter-gatherer type. The fullest expression of my hunter gathering artistry was demonstrated in the mastery exhibited week to week as I shopped in "my" grocery store.

I shop several times a week.  As a frequent visitor, I was easily able to put together my shopping list in order of appearance, starting from the right hand side of the store, where I pick up toothpaste and OTC allergy medicines, past the dairy products, and working my way to finish up over where I get my wine and fresh produce.

In a diabolical plot meant to sabotage my next 2 months of grocery shopping (JUST in time for the holidays and don't think they didn't factor that in..) the management of my store (hereinafter referred to as the Evil Menace) abruptly decided to redesign the store.

Ignoring the fact this "redesign" has led to random empty stretches of shelf where the entire selection of laundry products used to be, arguably offense enough, they are rearranging all the aisles, eliminating the middle shortcut altogether.  This abandons the hapless shopper who mistakenly heads up the wrong row forcing an interminable trek across the width of the building. 

The shelves are higher as well.  MUCH higher. The end effect is a sense of being trapped inside a maze with looming wall of products, twisting what should be a frolic for food into a much creepier "abandon hope all ye who enter here" outlive, outlast vibe.

I would not be surprised to find exhausted shoppers crouched mid-aisle, feverishly making a meal on raw oriental noodles as they give up every hope of finding their way out, much less locating the can of Mandarin Oranges they innocently thought to run in and buy.

I swear I saw a trail of crumbs in there the other day, as one wily shopper was trying to have a shopping trip take less time and be less psychically painful than a root canal.

A conversation with an assistant manager trying to suss out the "WHY!!??!!" of this grocery store chaos revealed they are planning on offering new products and felt they needed the additional space. Taking out the middle aisle, adding higher shelves, and rearranging the entire inventory was the "only way" to achieve their wish to accommodate more of what we, their customers, were asking for, he brightly assured me.

The logic behind timing this all in the runup to Turkey Day? Well, that is just "one of those things".Uh huh.

I realize the perils of wandering a grocery store without a mental product placement grid in place might seem innocuous, but for a seasoned shopper who prides herself on surgical strike forays (in and out with a week's worth of groceries in less than 40 minutes!) this is cruel and unusual punishment.

For the Evil Menace that manages my store to have pulled this right before the Biggest Grocery Store Shopping Week of the Year? That I take personally.

What recourse I have remains unclear.  I could celebrate the foxhole style camaraderie built as fellow shoppers carp.  I could focus Pollyanna style on a sense of community evolving as shoppers actually speak to one another, ignoring this is mostly represented by expressions of anguish, wondering if their young children will survive without groceries and/or still recognize Mommy by the time she emerges, exhausted and spent, to sadly return home. 

Progress is relentless.  Progress rolls on, expanding grocery store product offerings no matter who lies crushed in the wake.  This smacks of inimical social engineering.  I am keeping a keen ear out for subversive messages embedded in the overhead music.  I'll keep you posted....

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