Store remodel makes shopping orienteering

While I respect the right of store owners to remodel their digs into a more efficient arrangement, I resent the process involved in making it happen. It’s the same attitude I have with road repairs, highways in particular. I may creep along a particular stretch of road for months, avoiding potholes, mentally complaining about how crappy the road is and how they ought to fix it. But once they get busy fixing it, I complain even more loudly about how long the process is taking and how inconvenienced I am by it. I own up to this bit of double-bind unreasonableness.

For those of you who like specifics, I am going to disappoint you by not naming the offending supermarket chain. However, I am sure anyone with half a brain can figure it out. Maybe not. Maybe your brain is too scrambled from trying to negotiate the new normal to find something as simple as eggs at this store.

All the large supermarket chains are beginning to look more alike conceptually, with a few variations in color and aesthetics. It’s a monkey see, monkey do sort of thing. Once one large supermarket chain invests in hardwood flooring to cover a percentage of its floor space, it seems like all the others have to get into the act.

Do customers even notice? I always do, if only to stop and think how stupid it is to waste money on putting in hardwood flooring because who really cares? Unless the floor covering is such that it slows my cart from whipping through the aisles at breakneck speed, I don’t really care. I feel confident enough about this opinion to represent the entire “Do Not Care” contingency.

Let us back up a bit and first address the process behind the remodeling process. It goes something like this: The largely useless market research people hired at grossly inflated salaries by ridiculously large supermarket chains periodically send out a hugely wasteful number of surveys asking customers whether they can easily find the items they were looking for. Once the resulting numbers reach the tipping point where at least 75% of their customers (3 out of the 4 people who gave a darn enough to respond to the survey) report having a satisfying shopping experience, the store knows it’s time to change things.

Thank goodness I excel at orienteering, a sport that requires racing against the clock using a map, a compass and one’s navigational skills to go from point to point in diverse and unusually unfamiliar terrain. For the non-outdoorsy types, this is akin (or at least a distant relative to) driving like a maniac to get to an out-of-town wedding following the accidentally coffee-stained paper bearing directions to it. It also bears a close resemblance to the memories I try to forget involving my parents’ approach to reaching summer vacation destinations.

Most of us have been unofficially orienteering for a long time. We just didn’t call it that. I practice the craft regularly by misplacing personal items like umbrellas, reading glasses or water bottles, then spending a bunch of time looking for them. Nice leather gloves are also a great item to lose. You never lose a ratty old set of mittens or frayed winter scarf.

An orienteering spirit is required these days to shop at the large chain grocery store I frequent on my way home from work. After a long day at work, this workhorse likes to head straight for the barn. All I wanted last night was to pop in for a gallon of milk, a jar of Miracle Whip, some envelopes and garbage bags. It shouldn’t have involved having to consult the brightly color-coded map at the store’s entrance and my compass in order to find the relocated condiments.

Fortunately, I ran into fellow weary travelers who were kind enough to inform the garbage bags were now in the paper towel aisle and the envelopes in a new section over yonder by the equally new electronics section. By some miracle, I was able to locate the Miracle Whip and milk on my own by accident. I made myself a sandwich and toasted the miracle of unnecessary progress for my alleged convenience.


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