Friday, February 22, 2008

Shopping [CCR]

Shopping now means regular trips to those big box stores. Even if I wanted to visit the local grocer there isn’t many left in my area, and I live in the rural area of my county. So I make my regular trips to the city to get our groceries, which is more often than I desire since I have two teenage boys in the house. My last trip to the overgrown grocery store provided a rather peculiar site. The front area of the store was cordoned off with yellow tape as if some crime were committed. I grabbed by grocery cart and continued about my business while I pondered the potential crime scene out front.

Grocery carts haven’t changed much over the years other than a transition to mostly plastic parts. It shouldn’t shock us to see the plastic as our cars have made the same transition. They still fold out and provide a fancy seat for youngsters or you can flip up a cover over the leg holes. But now the cover is drenched in advertisements.

I wheel my cart around the grocery store sporting the usual squeaky wheel or maybe the often felt “bump, bump, bump.” You push the cart around and fill it with your needs and then proceed to the front of the store while they tally your goods. I did notice the cost of that basket of groceries has increased over the years while the size of the basket hasn’t really changed.

Gone are the days when you pulled up to the Davis’s store out at Mountain Springs and were greeted by name. I don’t remember that little store having those grocery carts. You simply asked for slices of cheese and they gladly helped you find whatever you needed. You didn’t spend time hunting through the store for some person in a colored vest who may need to speak on a radio and help you wade through the aisles of goods. I really don’t remember needing all those many aisles of goods thirty years ago.

At the checkout today the clerk usually has some kind words and that may be your first exchange of friendship since you entered the store. That little machine in front of the clerk asks if the clerk greeted you. I usually ignore it as I don’t need a machine teaching me manners. Unless you filled that cart to the top the clerk is expected to handle all your needs while they sling your goods into plastic bags rather than the big grocery sacks of yesteryear. At least she has those fancy bar codes to help speed the process along. I can never remember the correct price displayed on the shelf. If you don’t have a quick eye you can never be sure what that computer is saying you owe.

Finally, after getting my cart full of groceries I realize why the yellow tape is wrapped around the front of the store. The store has an awning where they like to display flowers. This awning, with a concrete walk, provides perfect cover to load your groceries in the rain. We are forbidden from using that awning to protect us from the elements. Now I seem to remember each grocery cart once had its own “license plate,” a number with a removable tag sporting the same number. You carried the tag with you to the car. In the car you pull up to the awning and a clerk matches your tag to the cart waiting with your groceries and they helped you fill your vehicle with your groceries.

Today I sloshed past the yellow tape through the rain and loaded my minivan with the wet plastic bags praying one doesn’t spill my goods on the ground. It is interesting that we were willing to take such deep discounts just to forego that extra level of service. It is a shame I just don’t really realize those discounts when I swipe my fancy little card and the computer magically drains my bank account. I really miss that little store in Mountain Springs that simply had all I needed and nothing more.