The supermarket I shop at is an amazing place. They handle over 35,000 items. They stock beer from eleven different countries and I once counted 97 different kinds of cheese. They have white cheese, yellow cheese, moldy cheese, goat cheese, yak cheese, hot spicy cheese, smoked cheese and some artificial stuff that contains nothing that ever lived.
With all of these wonders from around the world, why do they never have what's on my shopping list?
Recently Elizabeth gave me a list of three things to pick up at the market: whole black peppercorns, toothpicks and cat food. Nothing very exotic.
At the store I headed toward the section marked "SPICES". Under "P" they had lemon pepper, barbecue pepper, and roast pepper seasoning. There was ground black pepper, ground white pepper and whole red pepper corns and something called pepper exotica. But no whole black peppercorns. Nearby was a clerk stocking the gourmet food section. I asked her about whole black peppercorns, but she informed that she only stocked "gourmet" and "cheese" and that I would need to find either the manager or the spice stocker. Amazing! Specialization has even hit the stockers!
I finally found the store manager who was supervising a display of out of season fruit that had price tags with prices greater than I paid for my car. I inquired about whole peppercorns. The manager paged the spice stocker who told me they were out of whole peppercorns, but that they had ground pepper which was the same thing. "Maybe to you," I said, "but not to our pepper mill".
I than asked where toothpicks were located and was guided to the housewares aisle. At first glance it looked like what in my youth was called a Five and Dime store. A glance at a price tag told me that looks were deceiving.
I asked two customers if they had seen any toothpicks among the paper plates, party napkins, plastic glasses, balloons, party noise makers and other assorted marvels. I don't know how I could have missed them -- a veritable plethora of toothpicks. But I couldn't find one box of plain, ordinary wooden toothpicks.
I stopped a passing stocker and asked if he could help me. He told me he only handled frozen foods. I should have guessed. He was dressed in a parka and it was 103° outside. He did offer to send the Housewares Stocker over, however. Guess what? It was the same person who stocked spices. I guess he's working his way up the Corporate Stockers' Ladder. I explained my problem. He handed me a box of party toothpicks with little pieces of colored paper glued to one end. I shook my head. "Plain," I said. He glared at me and handed me a box of colored, plastic ones.
"Look," I smiled. "I like martinis. I put olives in my martinis. My wife gets very annoyed if I try and pluck one out of my drink with my fingers. I keep the olives on plain, ordinary wooded toothpicks. I don't want little pieces of colored paper floating in my martini. That would remind me of New Year's Eve and I loath New Year's Eve. I don't want colored plastic toothpicks because a chemistry professor once warned me that plastic and gin is lethal. I want plain, uncolored wooden toothpicks."
"We're all out," he exclaimed as he slid out of sight.
I found the cat food aisle all by my self. They were out of the only brand of cat food our cats will eat.
When I returned home I had ground black pepper, tooth picks with tassels, and six cans of cat food that our cats won't touch. Elizabeth looked at me questioningly.
"Senility," I replied.
A small note on the serious side:
In our posts we recommend various stores and products. Please be aware that we receive nothing for this. We merely are mentioning something that has worked for us. We will be doing product reviews in later posts. Again, we are not being paid or receive products for any review.