Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Grocery Store

I've written on here that before I made the decision to become a chemist, I spent my time working a variety of godawful jobs. Actually, if you were reading this early enough, you saw a documentation of what I hope is the last of those jobs, "the guy who makes burgers at McDonald's who I hesitate to call a cook of any kind". Before that, I spent about two years of summers, weekends and weekdays after-school doing various things that could be categorized as "retail" The first six months was spent as a stock-boy for a local franchise grocery store, which was terrible and made me hate the idea of employment, but which is somewhat relevant here. The last 18 of those months were spent at a K-Mart, which was so much better it's hard for me to explain while still being kind of terrible. I've got stories from both of those places that I'll post on if I ever do one of those month-long-Ryan-actually-blogs things again, but for now, it's enough to say "Ryan worked in stores."

Part of the responsibility, other than cleaning up what customers have done to either the bathroom or the electric wheelchairs, scraping frozen chicken breast off of the ground while being stung by bees in January and praying for a quick death, was to set up the displays and make sure everything looks all nice-like. I still feel an impulse, when I'm at a store, to straighten things out.

I was at a Dominick's a few hours ago, and since then I've been trying to figure out if the whole science of displaying things has changed fundamentally since I've stopped stocking things. My non-retail-worker brain has apparently lost the ability to drum up the faintest connection between Gushers and fish sticks (marketed together through the advance of putting a little shelf on the freezer door, which, if filled with glass salsa bottles, makes a bunch of noise when I have picked out my waffles and startles me). Suddenly, it was like the entire grocery store was one big Magic Eye Thing, which is funny because I can hardly ever see the things you're supposed to see. Suddenly it wasn't just "why are the Gushers near the fish?" but

  • "Why are there books for sale, and if I grant that one can buy books from a grocery store, why are they all either religious texts, diet books, poker how-tos or John Grisham novels?"

  • "How many John Grisham novels could the guy that places orders for the store honestly have thought they were going to sell? These things are like copies of Matthew McConaughey movies in the overstock bins at Blockbuster."

  • "What's with this bookshelf of clearance items that clearly have nothing to do with each other? Or is it some sort of game, where if I can figure out how to combine the little wooden house, the bug spray and the shampoo into a weapon, I win something that's actually useful?"

  • "Why is there a cooler filled, mostly, with Gatorade, when there's an aisle with Gatorade just that way? Is this for athletes who run into the store while being athletic and desperately need that cool, refreshing blast of blue sports fluid immediately? And even postulating that that is the case, why is the other half of the cooler for soup and cole slaw? There's not even a divider."

  • "That's nice, the summer theme they've done up front, putting the kites right next to the patio furniture. Wait. Who the hell buys patio furniture from Dominick's? Maybe I do. I need a patio."

Luckily, I escaped, having found a satisfactory pizza, and sped home to watch a movie I've had for far too long from Netflix and write this nonsense up while I'm still tired enough to think that it's a good idea.

And that is why I don't post anymore.


Kriss said...

The answer is obvious. The grocery store is training you to be the next MacGuyver.

Jonathan said...

You need to see what their stock of tea candles is in advance of hurricane force storms.