I haven’t had a good old-fashioned rant in a while. At least not in the written form. Usually a good source for finding consternation and inducing ranting is a trip to Walmart. Not today. I have decided to rest those useless protests in favor of another. Fair warning to people with a lofty opinion of me I am wearing my swear-bear pajamas and will probably drop some eff-bombs. I find it therapeutic to type the words. It makes me more “Zen” during my normal day-to-day life. Nirvanish? Placified?
Okay. Let’s talk about Kroger. Alternative to the Walmart grocery oligarchy. The Target of middle-class grocery-only vendors. The comfortable shopping relationship that gives just enough to keep you involved but never lets you know where you truly stand as a customer. We no longer have a Kroger on my side of town and it is a damn shame because that one was a great place. We recently got a Zaxby’s though. But this isn’t about Zaxby’s, it is about the grocery store.
Sometimes I stop on my way home to pick up a few things. Essential items, like bread or milk or some combination of protein/carb/cheese that we are having for dinner. We never have all the things we need to prepare a single dinner. So off to Kroger I go. I walk into the warm lighting (from the old style fluorescent tubes), grab one of the mutant grocery carts (who designed these things), and emerge in the vegetable section. What the vegetables lack in ripeness they compensate for with random arrangements and narrow aisles. Maybe the aisles just feel narrow because I am avoiding the never-ending traffic of the suburban mom. These ladies give two-shits about who or what is in their way. I can see it in their eyes. They are stressed and on-edge. They need one fucking loaf of whole grained organic bread so kindly move your ass out of the way. Meanwhile, I loiter in front of a few while I try and decipher what goods are in what aisles based on the hanging descriptions. The arrangement is awful. If the carts had horns I would be honked at. Or gored to death. I guess it depends on what kind of horns. Hateful glaring is much quieter. I barely notice. I’m too busy giving my own hateful glares at the blank spot on the shelf where the generic item should be. Now I get to buy name-brand whole kernel corn.
I will concede that the meat department is awesome. They have beef that was fed pre-softened grasses and heard bedtime stories nightly before they were slaughtered into steaks. And there is an attractive caring woman on the label which really sells the whole approach. It really comes out in the flavor too. Plus, the flower area is super handy at times. I think they sell free range roses.
But God help me find the bread in that forsaken labyrinth. Do they even sell bread? I circled five times looking for bread. I never found bread. Is Kroger gluten free now? Onward to make my tacos.
I found myself in the Aisle of Varied Ethnicity. It was a puzzling mix of politically correct sensitivity and, at the same time, not. For instance, one of our go-to dinners of choice is Taco Salad. I categorize this as “Mexican Food”. I eat lunch about four times a week at a “Mexican Restaurant”. I feel validated because the packaging and the restaurant sign both use “Mexican” as a descriptor. (It may be the best food on the planet. I know that my idea of Mexican food is extremely Americanized but I like to believe that children growing up in the hot, cactus-y, central American deserts at least have the pleasure of enjoying every meal with a bowl of salsa and bottomless tortilla chips. I can’t live in a world where that isn’t true.) How surprised am I that someone has labeled the area of tacos, refried beans, and jalapenos as the Latin American Foods section? Very. I have zero problems with that but I am confused how the Asia food section still gets a breakdown into Thai, Japanese, or Chinese. Is Panamanian cuisine indistinguishable from Mexican? Are there no foods that are unique to Guatemala? What did Mexico ever do to you? Maybe we should shift to a spicy, greasy, or hippie type of classification on our food so not to offend any group. After all, every culture has a signature meat/carb/cheese dish. Except Asian food because of the whole lactose intolerance thing which is okay because they have soba noodles and sushi which is a fair trade.
I’m veering off topic. My main point is that I can’t find anything. The informational boards at the ends of the aisles list individual items instead of general categories. Example, one board might advertise; Brown Mustard, Black Olives, Ranch Dressing… A real store would slap Condiments on the sign and still have room to describe the rest of the aisle. Don’t woo me with tales of exotic toppings. Just tell me where I am in this Neverland. I get all my fitbit steps just looking for things on my logically arranged shopping list.
When I am wandering around in lost in the vintage-1990-value-shopper food wilderness I am forced to admit a dark truth.
I miss the familiarity of Walmart.
It is my safe zone.
It’s the people that really make it great.
The broken smile of the older lady on register 4 who should be able to retire but Medicare doesn’t cover her diabetes supplies. The man with the bottle thick glasses who has to check items out very slowly and in precisely the right order. He is going to be on Criminal Minds one day played by a more attractive but equally crazy actor who kidnaps remote tollbooth workers to feed a toe eating fetish. Or the lady who rode to Walmart last night on the back of her boyfriend’s Honda Shadow to run in and get some supplies. These people were either camping or cooking meth and given her twitch and what seemed like a few too many scabs, I’m going with meth. That’s judge-y of me. Maybe they had been camping AND making meth.
Totally plausible. These two were in the self-checkout lane when Skinderella realized that she hadn’t eaten in four days and wanted a prewrapped turkey roll from the deli section. She ran and grabbed the lunch meat roll and, with a giggle, launched it towards the checkout like a football pass. It landed in the self-checkout area and exploded a colorful lettuce and tomato burst. Her boyfriend muttered something that rhymed with “Crazy Bitch” and continued to scan his beer. Commerce and comedy at 9:00 at night. I made my trip worth the drive. Happy Memorial Day! This is what the veterans were fighting for!
But not at Kroger. Most of those trips are monotonous grinds of a hurried life. Memorial to nothing in particular. There are crazy and dangerous people at both venues but the difference is somewhat like a well run zoo versus a walking tour safari park where the tigers might eat you in the parking lot because the rangers don’t give a shit. Plus the tigers are high, hungry, and mad that they dropped their turkey roll.
Who knows where I was going with this. Welcome to my week. If you find any piece of this remotely interesting this one is for you. I realize I didn’t manage to swear as much as I felt I was going to at the first. What can I say? Shit happens. Hope I didn’t fuck up the experience. I’m such an asshole. Oh and to Kroger. Nothing but love, locate the bread better, get some real carts with capacity. Carry on.
-Underdaddy to the rescue.