Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Meijer and the conceited shoplifter

I have accepted and swallowed--gulp--that my ego has been put in it's Meijer.

okay, keep reading.

perhaps the reason Meijer was so chock full of customers was because it was the last Saturday before Christmas. whatever. the wide-open-west parking lot was still west, but no longer wide open. I finally found a parking space in the "F" comment.

I grabbed two of my Whole Foods reusable grocery bags, pulled on a coat since I had an arctic snow storm trek to endure before I could get inside the 73 degree store, sloshed through leftover gray slush from last night's storm and created a mental stratagem that I would not bring a cart out through this slop: shop light and carry the bags to my car.

I breeze through the first automatic glass door and stumble upon a heretofore never experienced line...inside the airlock. get this, there are no carts to be had and people are standing in line, waiting for someone to give up a cart as they leave the store.

yeah...somehow that scenario just doesn't fit into the paradigm I've adopted through most of my life called, "too impatient to be stupid." I wade through the line of hapless, hopeless, cart-less line waiters (suckers, I chuckle heartlessly to myself), secure in my own muscle power to carry my two or three purchases, I don't need no blankety-blank Meijer cart!

with said reusable grocery bags tucked under my arm, I make my way to the Rice Crispy Treat fixin's aisle, grab the two large boxes of crispies, two large bags of marshmallows (making them for church activity and for home), pile those up on top of each other, smile smugly to myself while again repeating the Yosemite Sam-esque declaration of "not needin' nothin' from noooo-body!"

then I recall that I could use some naan (Indian flat bread and no, I don't mean Native American) and some hummus, and ooooooo, those black seedless grapes look so de-li-ci-oso! grocery stacking tip: grapes don't stack so well.

I stumble over to a pallet of stacked flour, and dump my desired purchases. determined not to give in to Meijer's gauntlet-thrown-down, pathetic attempt to challenge me via a cart fiasco. in the spirit of ingenuity, imagination, pragmatism--what else?--and cleverness, I remove my reusable Whole Foods bag from under my arm and put all my groceries inside the bag!

yay for me! problem solved and I can still fit in a few more groceries! I maneuver through the busy store like, well, like whatever unencumbered metaphor you can come up with on your own. I'm dodging cart collisions, weaving through cart and produce stands, squeezing into meat counter sweet-spots and snatching up items with cat-like reflexes. it's time to check-out, yippee-ki-yay!

now, I like to park in the wide-open-west and use the check-out lanes on the west side of the store, because most Meijer sheep, I mean, customers, park and check-out on the east side of the store. with reusable grocery bag full I head over to the west. I'm smiling, feeling very smart, I even consider waving to the poor fools still waiting for carts, you know trying to do my part to uplift humanity during the holidays.

I see Meijer Tzar staring at me while talking on his Meijer issued cell phone. his stare becomes more intense and his mouth slackens as he looks me up and down (oh yeah, the nearly 40 year old gal's still got it!). I give a slight nod, and a nondescript, closed mouth smile--I'm married, I don't like to encourage such wildly flirtatious behavior from other males--and walk by. I get a little farther on my search for an empty check-out lane, making my way towards the west exit area when Meijer second-in-command-Tzar, on his cell phone, walks by me and gives me the furtive eye! I "reply" with raised eyebrows and a squeamish smile. what? am I ooozing pheromones or something, what is goin' on?!

then, just as I'm nearing the 12 item or less u-scan machines next to the exit, I see Pat (Pat is the name I have given for one of the Meijer House Detectives. Pat is one of those SNL skit personas, not sure if "it" is a male or female), even Pat is giving me "the look!" (cue shivers, I think?) I see "shim" reading a Better Homes and Gardens magazine. I stop at the u-scan machine line while a nagging thought surfaces, "why would Pat care about 26 Holiday Gift Ideas under $20?"

At the same time, I see Head Honcho #2 coming towards me, while giving me a more serious glance. I watch as he walks purposefully to the exit and then just non chalantly paces, cell phone to his ear. I notice him give a slight nod to someone over to the left of me. I follow his line of sight and see Pat pull itself away from BHG, and walk over to the exit. that's when the light bulb blinked on over my big, fat, egoistic head: huh. apparently, I'm not the subject of all men's and men-look-alike's desires, I'm a suspected shoplifter! I think at this point I mentally went from sexy-almost-40-year-old to maligned-low-life-crook...with egg on her humiliated, non-sexy face.

ever a bastion of calm and grace I wait my turn for a u-scan, remove all the items from my grocery bag, scan them, re-bag them, purchase them and with head held somewhat high, walk through the line of cart waiters, and smile at the disbanding sheriff's posse, now ignoring me as I exit into the wide-open-west.

I repeat, gulp.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Meijer and the hope for change

okay, so what am I supposed to think when Meijer hangs banners from the ceiling declaring, "customer satisfaction" this, or "here to help you" that, complete with attractive Meijer associates with shiny white teeth? these huge posters with their winning smiles and pressed shirts lulls my needy, friendless-without-Meijer soul into a warm fuzzy world devoid of reality. see? see how I've been set up for the latest pulling-hair-out Meijer experience?

is it me? if it's me, let me know...

I've just finished scanning my 12 items, just a quick run into Meijer. I've pressed all the right buttons on the screen to declare that yes, I need cash back--ten dolares, please. just as I select the $10 minuscule rectangle, I recall that I need two 5 dollar bills, one to pay son and the other to pay daughter for contracted yard work. the inner workings of the u-scan machine whirls with cash counting noises as I begin all my lucky rituals (knocking on wood, crossing fingers, doing a $5 rain dance), hoping against hope for my change to shoot out in the form of two $5 bills. after a tense 4 seconds of staring at the machine's cash exit, out pops a single $10 bill.

son of a nutcracker! (love the movie Elf don't you?)

as I roll my eyes and lock my jaw in annoyance, I snatch the money and head toward Meijer's u-scan lackey. I start out with pathetic friendly approach--soft voice, tinge of whininess--"hi, the machine gave me a ten dollar bill, I need two fives." apparently, this u-scan lackey confused "pathetic friendly" with "aggressive hostile." her hands shot up next to her head like I just growled "stick 'em up!" she walks backwards away from me mumbling, "I just came here to help, I don't know nothin'!"

nope, I'm not exaggerating. no literary embellishment; that's what she said. verbatim. as my hapless "victim" backs away from me, it hits me: I have to go to the customer service desk! nooooooo!!!

"what's the big deal," you ask?! it's Saturday my friend, and my quick run into Meijer is about to become an epic journey through the bowels of the customer service underworld! I turn in slow motion toward the customer service area, praying that the line is short and hoping that the Friday night Fondue-ers are not in line with their Saturday morning defiled merchandise return, or that the crazed LOTTO potential winners aren't still trying to decide what numbers to play, or that someone isn't struggling over which seasonal book of stamps to buy: "overtly Christmas" or universal "Happy Holidays." that's the big deal!

after all the above and more take their turns, I step up to the counter, obviously a customer looking for some service. instead of "pathetic friendly," (didn't work out so well last time) I try "upbeat easygoing." with a slight smile, "morning, just need to change this ten into two fives." extend hand with money in a casual, relaxed manner.

again with the "stick 'em up" pose! "I can't do that!" she gasps as she backs away from the counter. completely confused, I inspect the money and pleadingly say, "this came out of your u-scan machine. I just need to change this ten, I need two fives!" Suzy wets-her-pants-a lot, staring at the money in my hand like it's the ebola virus in paper form whispers, "we've been told not to open our registers just to make change." I give the what-in-the-world-is-going-on-here look, to no avail.

she starts to be helpful by saying, "if you buy something..." I just look confused at her while my brain screams, "I just bought over $40 worth of groceries, I need to change this money, not spend it!" I glance over at the other "customer service" associate (hoping someone will cave) and see her drawer open. I jump at the chance, pointing like a tattling child I blurt out, "her drawer is open, get the two fives from her!" Suzy perplexed-into-non-action-a lot turns her head, stares at the open drawer, waits till the drawer closes and says, "sorry, can't help you." my exasperation turns ugly and I get loud. "are you kidding me?! I JUST WANT CHANGE!!" yes, I know my contextual usage was incorrect, but at that point I was beyond caring about proper Queen's English. oh, acoustical note: it's amazing how well an echo can carry in a warehouse-like store.

Meijer associate ignores my tantrum and signals next person in line to take my spot. sympathetic person in line waves me over, "try the bank over by produce, maybe they are open." totally dejected, yet still harboring ill feelings to all red-shirted people, I wait in line at the rented-space-in-Meijer bank for the only cashier to stop eating her lunch, unlock the half-door/gate thingy, walk through, lock the half-door/gate thingy, straighten her name tag, look at the line and ask "may I help someone?" like she can't understand why there are so many people watching her every move.

Hope for Change, Hope for Change. if only I could craft a whole grassroots driven campaign against the minds at Meijer based solely on that phrase... hmmm, maybe in 2012.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Meijer and the 2008 black friday update

first, let me say that unlike past years, this year I just wasn't feeling the black friday love. my normal awake at 3:30am because I'm so excited about the deals, slipped into 5:30 am. I stumbled into the car, armed with my prioritized list and found myself near the Wal-Mart parking lot. that's right, near. I could only get near the parking lot since the entire 15 acres of parking lot was filled! being half an hour late to the bf party put me at a distinct disadvantage. the cashier lane lines were so long and packed so tight, I couldn't even get passed them to get to the toy department. I turned around and left, my mood becoming more Scrooge like at an alarming rate.

had better luck at Target, Old Navy and Michael's and at 7am with my outlook shifting from "bah humbug" to "Happy Holidays," I decided to make a stop at the heretofore dreaded Meijer. with what I had already experienced at Wal-Mart and Target, I was bracing for the worst...

the first thing I noticed as I walked into Meijer was how quiet it was--too quiet; eerily quiet, ghost town quiet, deathly quiet, library quiet, graveyard quiet, calm before the storm quiet, lecture on "why Latin is a dead language" quiet. (side note: you ever notice how repeating a word over and over can make it sound strange? I just realized the same applies to typing a word over and over--quiet suddenly looks strange.)

I grab one of the dozens of carts from the corral and make my way to the electronics corner. no compelling urge to hurry, no worries about angry backlashes for accidentally bumping into a fellow bf-er. electronics is empty save one english-is-my-second-language Indian and one Meijer associate trying to communicate through loud-speak, "I SAID WE WILL NOT MATCH COMPETITOR'S PRICES ON BLACK FRIDAY!" (I know. he's not deaf. volume won't make him suddenly understand) and vehement ad pointing. I casually saunter up to the untouched bin of jump drives--1 item per customer limit--and fling one into my empty cart. whoop-de-do!

I pass a Meijer associate guarding/standing near a stack of flat screen tv's for $250. I pause and look at the stack. while I read the box details, I notice the associate raise her eyebrows in hopeful anticipation, ready and willing to fling a tv into my cart if I so desired. as it was, I did not desire. I looked at her, shrugged my shoulders and moved on. visibly crushed, associate tries a new sales tactic by rearranging the tv boxes into a stack more feng shui appealing.

my black friday purchases at Meijer consisted of one jump drive for $4.99, 3 pillows for $10, 3 pack of tape for $1.50, 1 bag of 50 count bows for $2.00, Goody hairbands for 50% off, and a 3 roll pack of wrapping paper for 50% off. that was it. I'll say it again, without the sarcastic exclamation point and emphatic italic font: whoop-de-do.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Meijer and the Casablanca ending

per my 23July2008 post, I mentioned we had built a house. we bought our original cottage (that sounds nicer that it was) in spring of 1999. it was a 1000 sq./ft home, built in 1947, sitting on just under an acre of property. when my husband and I first toured the, ahem--house, we thought the same thing, love the land/location, HATE the house.

well, we lived in that one bathroom (absolute disaster when the clay sewer line fell apart), leaky roof, musty crawl space, anciently wired (Ben Franklin technology), literal holes in the wall, oven in the summer, freezer in the winter, place for 7 years. our solace during those years were the 20+ mature shade trees, our very own "on goldfish pond," and planning/researching the best options for building...some day.

a bit hard to imagine how Meijer fits into this post, isn't it?

november 2006:
it's 8:45 am, my builder has just told me the sections of our home would arrive later that afternoon, but they still didn't have a big enough empty lot to "store" the sections of our home overnight.

see, all those years of planning and research led us to the modular home. no, not a mobile home, but a modular home. a modular home is built in sections (5 in our case), built indoors, wrapped, and all sections are delivered to the building site. just a few of the benefits are: no building materials damaged/delayed by weather, amazingly short construction period (from the day we signed the loan documents to the day we moved in was 5 months!), at arrival/assembly the home is 85% complete (reducing number of sub-contractors to deal with) and it is a very energy efficient home.

6 stressful hours later, my builder called. "we've found a lot to store the sections, we'll see you at 8am tomorrow to set your house!" soooo relieved, I head to Meijer to buy all of the food for our "assembling the house party" we are hosting for our neighbors, friends and home building workers. that particular Meijer jaunt was the stuff of legends. I flew through the gi-normous store, buzzed through the check-out lane, dodged cars in the parking lot like a vintage game of frogger, stuffed my car with noisy, plastic-thin bags of groceries and pointed my honda towards the nearest exit, Meijer's wide-open-west parking lot. giddy up!

sccrrreeeech! (supposed to be the literary equivalent of the sound my brakes made when I spasmodically double-footed the brake pedal. I'm clarifying because the "ch" sound at the end of the word just doesn't quite ring true with the actual sound of my brakes--and as you know, I'm all about literary integrity. tee hee!)

a deluge of amazement, shock, difficult to breathe-ness, (and that slight quiver/cold feeling I get when all my blood inexplicably attempts to squeeze into my pinky toe) broke out over my already frazzled nervous system. this is what caused my Treasure Island-like apoplexy...

of all the parking lots in all the towns in all the world, my house parks at Meijer.

who knows, maybe there's still time for a beautiful friendship...maybe.