Saturday, December 1, 2007

Shopping At The Speed Of Light

Since Fairway is one of the only stores in Manhattan (possibly the only store?) that has an actual parking lot, it's an ideal place to go for a quick shopping run during alternate side of the street parking times. (Otherwise known as the time of day when the Department Of Sanitation says "We don't care where you move your car for the next hour and a half, but you can't have it HERE!")

The thing is, though, that in order to get to and from Fairway and get back in time to get a parking space on our block a half an hour before alternate side of the street parking was over (see yesterday's post if you don't understand why this is so important), we'd have to get all of our shopping done in under 30 minutes. This is not an easy thing to do, nor is it particularly pleasurable for me, but I was up for the challenge. To help us save time, though, I requested that my friend not park in the farthest spot away from the store (something she likes to do because she thinks it's good exercise!)

So, we arrived at the store, got our grocery carts and I yelled "I'm ditching you now! See you at the cash registers in 30 minutes!" and the race was on. But what do you think I discovered once I entered the store? -They'd REARRANGED it! They do this every now and then. Completely rearrange the store, even down to changing the aisles so that they run horizontally instead of vertically! I think they do this just to mess with our heads. Now I not only had to get through the entire store in less than half an hour, I also had to figure out where the heck everything was!

So off I went grabbing pretty much everything I saw with little time to compare prices or expiration dates. Organic, non organic, bagged, boxed, loose... everything went into the cart. Who knew if I'd have room in my fridge at home. Who knew if there'd be room in the car! I didn't have time to think about little details like that!

At ten minutes to go I was having trouble finding cheddar cheese. I saw a block of orange colored cheese and was just about to throw it in my cart when I realized the label said SOY cheese. Soy cheese? What the heck section was I in??? Eventually I found the cheddar cheese. There was very little of it left. Not surprisingly, there was soy cheese left in abundance.

At five minutes to go I felt like I was on one of those game shows. The ones where the contestants have a certain number of minutes to run around a supermarket and throw everything they can into their shopping carts before the buzzer goes off? That was me.

At three minutes to go I accosted a woman in the organic section and yelled "Where are the tampons!? Do you know where the heck they moved the TAMPONS???!"

To which she replied: "I can't find anything either. And what the heck did they do with The Cold Room? I couldn't find anything in there!"

Miraculously I was able to find the tampons (right across from the pasta... why didn't I think to look there first? I always think "Tampons? Maybe they're in the pasta section!") and then in the final stretch I managed to find rice (one aisle over from where I expected it) and Parmalat milk (exactly where I expected it.)

I got to the register, my friend pulled her cart in behind me just 2 minutes later, and we made it back and into a parking spot at exactly the right time. Mission accomplished.

Each of us then took turns sitting in the car with the keys while the other ran groceries up to their apartment. And that's when I met "Art" ...



Hillary said...

Ooh! You and your cliffhangers!!!

Melissa said...

The really sad thing is that they're not even THAT interesting! Lol!

I'll give you a "teaser" -The last part is really just about my making fun of my friend for something she did after this.

storyteller said...

LOL -- I hate it when stores rearrange (but I love to rearrange on my own). I’m glad you found the essentials and made it back to the car before it was towed (or whatever happens in Manhattan). Makes me glad I live in the wide open spaces of the West :)

Of course, summertime in MY little beach town creates a whole new set of parking problem for visitors and residents alike. Guess Gilda Radner was right ... It's always something. Now I need to find out who Art is ...
Hugs and blessings,

Karyn said...

You know?

Until this post, I never once contemplated where the hell Manhattanites go grocery shopping. I guess I figured they just picked up produce at the bodega or something. Too many Seinfeld episodes. Too much Sex & The City. Tooooo much time in the sticks.

And while we're at it, what do you do with Parmalat anyway and why does it come in a box and why doesn't it have to go in the fridge?

And you're right about the Grocery Store Mucky Mucks changing it around periodically; it's so people CAN'T go in and hit just the aisles they want - they're forced to wander and roam like retail nomads In Search Of. This translates into a bigger tally for you and a huge profit margin for them in the long run.


Melissa said...

Storyteller, I loved Gilda's book. Many years later I was in a store and saw a small toy dog and for some reason the first thing that came into my head was "that looks just like Sparkle." Which I thought was an odd think to think since I'd never actually seen Sparkle, only read about her (him?) I went over to look at it and it *was* Sparkle! A small stuffed Sparkle created to raise money for one of Gilda's charities.

Melissa said...

karyn, you ask a lot of really good questions! And you've got some really interesting blogs too. I didn't realize you had so many.

So, to answer your questions:

Seinfeld is 100% true and completely accurate :) We do shop at bodegas. At least people outside of Midtown do. But bodegas are tiny and don't have a large selection, so they're better for quick shopping. There are some real supermarkets in the city, but although they're larger than bodegas, most are still small compared to suburban grocery stores, so any time we Manhattanites can get a ride to a really big cool place, there is much rejoicing (sad but true!)

I started to answer your Parmalat question but then I decided to make it into a post! :) Maybe tomorrow or the next day. (I know, the suspense of boxed milk is killing you! Lol!)

As for rearranging the grocery stores, it reminds me of the zoo model of creating wildlife enrichment programs. You know... where they invent mazes and new and challenging ways for zoo animals to get to their food under the guise of keeping them "mentally stimulated?" I wouldn't be surprised if it was discovered that every few months or so the owners of Fairway and the Bronx Zoo switch jobs for a day just for kicks.