Saturday, June 17, 2017

Meijer and the bad Samaritan

there's this philosophy that I ascribe to, while shopping at the superstore, that I don't take lightly: 

"whenever possible, be somewhat helpful."

yeeeaaah, it isn't exactly steeped in altruism (rarely requires anything like sacrifice or personal growth on my part), but it works for most of my grocery store interactions.

but on this fateful day, Meijer obliterated my carefully worded personal philosophy that I've mostly lived by for twenty years...

after several weeks of living la vida loca (aka, shopping the new supersize-superstore), I'm pretty confident that I've got the store map sorted out in my head. I whiz passed fresh produce (I've got canned pineapple chunks at home, who needs fresh?), maneuver through bakery (so many tables stacked with carbs!), pause to score the bacon sale(!) and head for the aisle of bottled tap water pure natural spring water or "The Aisle of 1000 Waters." ☜ sounds biblical doesn't it? 

I'm listening to a favorite Spotify playlist and concentrate on searching the 1000 (exaggeration to make you feel my pain) different water bottle labels because my kids despise the name brands and only drink the Meijer brand. so, I'm really focused. no, really focused that I ignore fellow Meijer shoppers around me, until I feel someone touch my arm.

I don't even have to side-glance to know that the papery-soft, thin-skinned hand that touched me is an elderly woman. I immediately pluck the earbud from my ear (respect!).

"excuse me, do you know where the tissues are? the new layout has me confused."

nearly beaming with Hermione pride (I know this answer!), I confidently and clearly point her to the back, far corner of the store, then revel in her sweet, "thank you, dear."

memories of the Bible's iconic Good Samaritan picture pops into my mind--but with my face photoshopped in as the Good Samaritan. my brain is great at photoshop.

with a kindness-begins-with-me glow, I continue in the opposite direction, searching for items on my list, when I pass an aisle and peripherally notice a Meijer associate stacking paper towels on a mostly empty shelf, a trolley behind him stacked with boxes of paper towels, napkins, toilet paper and... tissues!

I didn't screech to a sudden stop--my sandals aren't capable of such dramatic sound effects--but it was a halting stop as I realized in horror--"I sent Gram-Grams the wrong way!"

my brain rips my photoshopped face off the Good Samaritan character and slaps it onto a new character--the sinister Bad Samaritan who goes around changing road signs, forcing old people to wear out their hip replacements! 

I mentally curse the supersize-superstore: they couldn't leave well enough alone. no! they just haaaaad to change things again and turn me into the bad guy! I went into overdrive, desperate to find Gram-Grams and make this right. 

hindsight is 20/20 note: pretty sure all the people I barked at to get out of my way weren't hip to the vision of me reclaiming my good Samaritan status, but to H-E-🏒🏒 (← double hockey sticks) with 'em! I had to redeem myself at all costs! 

I careen around the corner where the tissues were two weeks ago, and there she was-- accepting the last box of tissues that a kind, smiling (and was that a halo?) Meijer associate had removed from the top shelf. 

in my mind, the Good Samaritan's face changed again

like I said, my brain is great at photoshop. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Meijer and the germaphobe

here's the thing-- I took 10th grade biology, so I understand a thing or two about bacteria, aka germs.

they're everywhere. ev-er-y-wher-e 
(the last hyphen is unnecessary, of course, but I like the aesthetic)

it's one of those life realities, that as humans, we just have to accept. 

let me repeat that, just accept it, use good hygiene practices, and MOVE ON with life.
(in my head, I all-caps shouted, so I hope you did too)

a few years ago, when I found myself face-to-face with a specifically designed stand of antibacterial wipes next to Meijer's royal blue carts, I rolled my eyes, grabbed the cart's handle and walked away. 

now, I know, not everyone feels the same as I do. for instance, the new mother; it takes a kid or two before you accept life's germ-y realities. and yes, the medically fragile; they can't afford to be so overt eyeroll dismissive. fine. understood. but the rest of you--I'm looking at you Meijer crazies--really need to find a new hobby.

it's mid-morning and I need to pick up a few items. I pop in my earbuds and take my time walking to the indoor grocery cart-sanctum that this newly remodeled Meijer has created. I'm not in a rush, because it isn't Saturday, I even take in a cleansing inhale/exhale (that's yoga, right?) as the automatic doors whoosh open, revealing a clutch of Meijer customers, hanging out(?) in front of the cart tunnel.

ever the Meijer Outlier (thx Malcolm Gladwell!), my plan was to bypass the bystanders, grab a cart and commence shopping. I maneuver myself in front of the silent sheep customers, only to instinctively step-back with a mix of shock and consternation.

a woman has situated herself, her cart, and the stand of antibacterial wipes, directly in front of the rows of carts... while she vigorously cleans the cart.


the entire cart. 

the 35 seconds or so that I had patience to watch her (I could kick myself for not recording her with my iPhone, for the sake of this post), she wiped down the handle (repeatedly), the top and bottom edges of the basket, each basket wall--exterior and interior--and the legs of the cart. with each section, she dropped the dirty wipe onto a little pile on the floor.

she was in her own little antibacterial induced bubble--mentally and physically oblivious to the outside world--much less the Meijer customers waiting for her to move so we could get our own germ-infested carts.

when she eyed the wheels(!), and reached for the next wipe, I made my move. I stepped in front of the antibacterial stand and in my louder-than-normal voice stated, "excuse me, I need a cart."

I think the combination of my voice and physically blocking her from the wipes, burst germaphobe's OCD bubble and snapped her back to reality. 

with index and thumb fingers, she pushed her cart out of the way. I smiled and thanked her. I grabbed my cart, as did the other customers, but then noted that germaphobe had a new dilemma: a pile of bacteried-antibacterial wipes. 

horrified grimace when her eyes darted from used-wipes pile to the garbage can several feet away. knowing that my other super-power is common-sense (my other, other super-power is, of course, a secret), I scooped up the pile, smiled at her and tossed them in the garbage. #Heroic

if the CDC asked me to write their PSA germs slogan it would be, "wash your hands, but not until they bleed."