It Is Not As Easy As It Looks
SEND OUT THE SEARCH DOGS I THINK I’M LOST. My surroundings look familiar, but different. Nothing is where I know it should be. I have never been as disoriented as I am on this trip into an unfamiliar supermarket. Help me!
I am so comfortable in my own personal Kroger store. I could find my way through that store blindfolded, but when we are down south in Texas I am sent figuratively naked and afraid into the Terra Incognita of the local H.E.B grocery store.
(For those of you residing outside of Texas – “H.E.B.” are the initials of the founder of the chain of stores strewn across the state. They don’t stand for anything like “Hellaciously Evil Brotherhood.”)
Trying to find my favorite bagels or canned soup in the H.E.B. is beyond my ability. The odds are somewhere on the side favoring me finding the Ark of the Covenant first. It can’t be done. They don’t carry the brand of bagels that I like anyway and in the soup aisle nothing looks like anything I want in my favorite Hopalong Cassidy bowl at lunchtime.
May I make a simple proposition here? Would it be too much to ask that the layout in supermarkets be standardized? Would it cause the Stock Market to crash, Endangered species of butterflies to fall from the skies, or for Woody Woodpecker to come out of the closet, if the Cream Cheese was in the same place in every store? Am I asking too much? Would it be a signal of the End of Days if I could track down the Fish Sticks without having to ask for help from a sixteen year old stock boy who is trying hard to grow a mustache?
Just the other day, against my better judgment, I went into the H.E.B. with my shopping list clutched in my sweaty little hand. I had been sent there with instructions to pick up about a dozen items for that night’s dinner. I might as well have been sent out into the Empty Quarter of the Saudi Arabian Desert to look for a Dixieland Band. Some of the things on the list, I learned after the fact, are only available in Texas and Azerbaijani gourmet shops. What would have taken me no more than fifteen minutes in my neighborhood Kroger store stretched out to 45 minutes in the H.E.B. maze. People were beginning to stare. Three different clerks and stock boys asked if they could help me. I was determined to work it out myself. After all, I was a college graduate and a man with few known allergies. I felt that I should be able to solve this seemingly simple problem by myself.
After another fifteen minutes I threw in the towel and skittishly approached one of the store staff who had been watching me ready to pounce if I appeared to be getting antsy. I asked her for some help.
She looked at my list and said, “Why, Sugar, this won’t take but two minutes. Then you can go home and have a cool glass of Sweet Tea.”
I don’t like Sweet Tea, but I wasn’t going to argue. I was a defeated man.
When I got back to the homestead my wife asked me, “What took so long?” There was no way I could tell her the emasculating truth.
“I stopped for a glass of Sweet Tea.”