Sometime just before the afternoon of Dec. 24, 2018, diabolical human beings rearranged almost everything in my Kroger. There was no warning, but when I entered the store on Christmas Eve, it was evident that the grocery world as I knew it had changed forever.
The salad bar was gone (too much waste, they said), roasted chickens were no longer in their tantalizing display. The meat department was in the same place, but the king crab legs were where the flank steak used to be. The organic yogurt section was eliminated and combined with the regular yogurt. They’d never try that at Whole Foods.
I wandered aimlessly with the shopping list Mary Ellen had given me. I stopped at the wine and beer department. I asked why they had changed everything.
“Don’t ask me,” she said. “I’m just the wine lady.”
“I know,” I said. “I am whining to you. I can’t find anything. Do you know where the cereal has been relocated?”
“Oh, cereal is now next to the breakfast bars.”
“That doesn’t help,” I explained.
I no longer know where the breakfast bars are. This was like giving me directions when I am lost in an unfamiliar town and telling me to turn left where the old church used to be.
There was a lot of conversation among customers — shoppers sharing moving stories of pickles they can no longer locate, kitty litter that has vanished. It was Jenny’s story that really tugged at my heartstrings.
“It was 10 years ago when Joe and I first walked down the aisle together — aisle 7, to be exact,” she said. “We had so many fond memories of granola, Frosted Flakes and Raisin Bran. Now those memories have been lost forever. Instead, it’s Heinz Ketchup, Gulden’s Mustard and Hellmann’s Light Mayonnaise. It’s just not the same anymore.”
At the checkout counter, I saw Vickie, who has the hardest job. She comes running when the self-scanner says: HELP IS ON THE WAY. I told her that despite that day’s confusing experience, I found everything on my shopping list. Which is a lot better than shopping at Marsh … where you can’t find a single thing.