The Supermarket Trilogy
Plot Amongst Us!
By Fred Stock
all the talk of terrorists and evil do-ers these days, it surprises me that
someone greater than I has not noted and annotated the nearest evil plot to
every man in our society… the Super-Super-Market. There has to be a
multi-layered conspiracy here. A vast pick-your-favorite-wing conspiracy. Just
look at any man in any isle of any mega-market and you can see it on his
bewildered face, his confused staring at mountains of things he has no idea
about. “What the hxxx ARE all these things?” I find myself saying!
I don’t know if you’ve stopped to realize it yet, but it takes an
engineering degree and intense concentration to shop in Ralph’s these days.
Wal-Mart, A&P, Von’s and Stater’s are no better. I was in Albertson’s
this morning and it’s just the same. Oh, what twisted webs we weave when we
practice to build mega-stores!
remember the days when the Ledwon family ran a little grocery store at the
corner. Mr. Ledwon always knew what brand of soup your Mom wanted, and always
handed it to you in person. Mrs. Ledwon always smiled and handed you a piece of
rock candy when you left. They got nearly everything you could ever want into
that store about the size of a two car garage. That included their cute daughter
Virginia too. I could ride my bike tio this place and always come away with what
I needed, and no stress, no confusion! But today, there is a soup isle in the
mega store with perhaps 600 kinds of soup, maybe 300,000 cans by my calculation,
and that doesn't even consider the city block of spaghetti-o's and chili. Did
you know there are about 19 different kinds of chili in that isle. That's enough
to burn as hole all the way through the entire planet to China!
I was staring hopelessly at some thirty-four thousand little cans of soup,
looking for “old fashioned vegetable” requested by my wife. I immediately
flashed to that TV commercial where the wife is taking digital photographs of
the cans and boxes in her pantry closet so she can print out a photo-list for
her ordinary (and therefore helpless in a market) husband.
am suddenly interrupted by another disorientated fellow asking if I had seen the
marshmallows. (I guess you have to "network" with people of like
daftness in a place like this!) You know, there is no such thing as a
“marshmallow” isle. They’re not in “candy”. He and I looked
fruitlessly in “picnic supplies”… don’t you always have marshmallows at
picnics? They were not to be seen in “promotional items” even though the
promotional isle sign has a picture of a kid and mom roasting marshmallows over
a campfire. Oh, sure, a MOM! They know about these things! No fair!
I don’t know if the unfortunate bloke ever did find marshmallows. No
wonder there’s a Starbucks in this place… Caffeine! Yes!
told the gentleman about the engineering degree idea. He said, “Hxxx, I’ve
got one of those. They don’t help either!” About that time a third guy
overheard us and laughed. He was looking for table salt. You’d think there
would be a “salt and pepper” isle, but Noooooo!
occurs to me that they must send only girls to a special class in school to be
trained how to shop in a Mega-Market. (In fairness, I guess a few boys are
allowed in too… but only if they sign a pledge that says they’re the one’s
who will grow up to run super markets.)
said to a lady, “Do they send girls to a special class on market
navigation?” She laughed, then looking at me with a definite hint of pathos on
her face, said, “What are you looking for?” “Salt” I said. “Oh,
that’s in spices… two isles over on the right at eye-level.” Way too
accurate, I thought, must be in on the plot. She’ll go home and laugh at us.
the second guy showed up again. “I’m doing better,” he said, “but I
cheated. I asked an employee of the store.” “You saw an employee?”
I gasped! “Wow!” “You know
that commercial about the camera? It’ll work if it includes an accurate map
and a little GPS system readout.” “Copy!” I said, as I stumbled forward!
Thank God for cell-phones. “Hello, honey? Hellppp!”
few months ago, I wrote about the bewilderment we men experience in the wild
world of supermarkets. I had the
unfortunate experience recently to be wantonly thrust back into them again!
My spouse had said, “You drop me off at this market, and I’ll start
the big shopping. Meanwhile, you drive over across the street and buy the liquid
artificial sweetener we like. They don’t sell it here, but they do over
there.” Now, just how, I thought, would she know that if she were not
in on “the plot”. You know, where they only teach young girls about these
places, and keep the boys grunting at football practice.
I was going to complain, but I thought, “Wait a minute, I now have one
of THEM on MY side! So, I did as any good obedient English husband (my
wife’s ideal for me even though I’m not a Brit,) would do, and did as I was
told. I dropped her at Luckys and ran across to the other one to get the
“Sweet-10” stuff. It’s another “mega-hyper-multi-super-store” with
about 350 isles, all stocked with every possible variety of every product known
to man or Chef Emeril (either one). Every possible variety, that is,
except the one I was sent to ferrite out.
look!! A store lady stocking a shelf! I know these creatures had to exist,
though they are elusive as shadows most of the time. “Hi! Can you tell me
where to find artificial sweeteners?” ‘They’re in Isle Ten’ I looked up
at the sign over my head. It said 10a. “Where is isle 10, please.”
‘You’re standing in it.’ “Oh, great! Can you point me to the
sweeteners?” ‘There on the shelf behind you!’ “Oh, I’ve scoured that
whole shelf-bank clean. There isn’t any Sweet-10.” ‘Let me look… yes,
you’re right, there isn’t any left.’ “You know, there NEVER seems to be
any of those.” ‘I know, those are so popular, we’re always out of them.’
“Then why not order a lot more of them? You’d make a lot more sales…”
‘I know, Corporate sets those levels.’ “Where’s Corporate?” ‘In
had to give up. As I walked through the check-out counter without anything to
show for my half hour visit to the largest store in 500 square miles, the
register lady said to me, “Did you find everything alright?” It was probably
rude to walk past without answering her. I drove back to where the smart half of
this marriage was gliding easily through the shelves. I told her, “None
there.” She looked at me as though I had told her Scott Peterson’s jury had
just changed it’s mind. “Well, we’ll have to go to Staters or Vons I
guess. They all have it most of the time.” Good grief! She knows about those
too! It’s the Plot! This is scary!. This thing is real!
just quietly followed her through the store, watching in amazement.
We ended our journey in the vegetable department. I feel even more
foreign there than in the meat department. Let’s be honest guys. How many of
us really know what to do with any of the following; basil, endive-chicory,
parsnips (wasn’t that a cartoon character when I was a kid?), cilantro, and
rutabagas. And this one really got me. Bok Choy. I thought he was a rookie
pitcher for the Dodgers or something! fhs
Another Supermarket Experience!
In looking over the essays I have penned in this series, I realized there
were several which had originated in
Women always have a system for doing all the girl-things they do in
Anyway, no answer heard. The wife, on the other hand, knocked on several
and proudly handed me one, saying, “This one is exactly right.” So I should
argue? I put it in the basket.
Then we hit the check-out. Waiting in line I noticed headlines on the
bird-cage-bottom magazines on the ends of the counters. “Shocking Weight Gain
For Sally!” I guess I’d be shocked too! I mean, my word, nine pounds?
That’s terrible! “Lanni Convinced Husband Danny’s Family Is Pushing Him To
Dump Her In Favor Of Jen!” Who the heck is Lanni, Danny or Jen, and why should
I care? Are they worried because I have an extra ten pounds of my
own (shocking!) and my hair is thinning a bit too! (It’s breaking news!)
“Samantha’s Sizzling Plan To Save Her Marriage!”
How in the world can you expect me to concentrate on learning my melon
picking methodology with a crisis like this to solve! And then there’s the
vital information on being a better lover for your mate and looking better on
the beach. Seven of ten of those magazines have articles on this nearly every
month, so it MUST be an important subject that I have neglected. For shame,
self! Slap, slap!
I tell you, you have to hand it to the ladies. They are able to find
things in a store with more compartments and hallways than a small aircraft
carrier, totally control the quality of the fruit they purchase with just a
knuckle, and they know everything that is going on between Jasmine and Bobby
from “As The Stomach Turns” on daytime TV. Not to mention the Court TV cases
they fully understand, while still doing all their homemaker things and
diligently studying a correspondence course on the internet! Amazing! We men
will never understand! -fhs