Grocer shopping can be deadly dull. So predictable. So ordinary. So uninspiring.
Sometimes it’s fun to shop at a new grocery store: one in which you’ve never been. Perhaps a shop in a new neighborhood; one you discover while taking a different route home. A new store will probably carry items that are unusual from the ones you’re used to seeing back in your neighborhood. Different brands, different ethnic foods, different prepared meals.
So on my way home from the Randolph YMCA, famished from my workout in their warm water pool (temperature a theraputic 91 degrees) I pulled off Route 10, into the driveway of Stop and Shop. I walked inside and immediately got lost. The layout was completely different from Kings’ Supermarket, my neighborhood store. Since I was not in a hurry, an unusual situation for me, I was prepared to browse leisurely and select some unusual foods for dinner that night.
Yes, there were some different sights in Stop and Shop. I saw the first female fishmonger behind the seafood counter: the first I had ever seen working in a supermarket. She was knowledgeable and helpful about seafood of all kinds. In the prepared foods section I saw huge hot vats of various soups, like broccoli-cheddar, cream of mushroom, and chicken tortilla. In the dairy section I found many more brands of yogurt than I’m accustomed to seeing, most of which were new to me.
Rounding the next corner I received an unexpected and scary shock. It was a moving, very very tall robot-looking machine that seemed to be following me! It was frightening looking, coming out of nowhere and going wherever I was going.I moved to the right, and it moved to the right. It could have been a creature from outer space invading this humble grocery store. I didn’t know what it was, had never seen one before, and didn’t know how to avoid crashing into it with my shopping cart. A woman shopper approached me, paying attention to her shopping list. Her eyes were focused on tins of nutmeg, curry powder, and bay leaves lined up on the spice shelf at the left side of the aisle.
“Excuse me,” I said, awakening her from her stuporous dreams of spicy dishes resulting from today’s purchases. “Can you please tell me what THAT is? It scared me half to death!”
“Oh, That! It frightened me the first time I saw it too. Nobody warns you to expect to see it or explain what it is. It’s a floor washer. It rolls around and keeps the floors clean. It sweeps up fallen squished vegetables, spilled beverages and whatever else winds up on the floor. It has saved the store from complaints of slippery, dangerous spots, and probably from lawsuits too. And after school, neighborhood children like to come in and chase it around the aisles! It does make quite the first impression, doesn’t it?”
So my sightseeing venture to a new store turned out to be a lesson in technology and ingenuity.
As I recall the experience and try to remember what I bought at “Robot Buddy Store” to prepare for dinner that night, I think that I was so upset by the experience of practically being kidnapped and taken off to a neighboring planet, that we ordered Carry-out dinners that night. Next time I run out of milk, bread or any other staples I will hop down to the safety and predictability of Kings. Why take the chance of being assaulted by robots, new fangled floor washers or children chasing mechanical monsters through the aisles of the supermarket?