Friday, January 30, 2009

Meijer and the Catch-22 situation

"all is not gold that glitters."
"not everyone who has a cowl on is a monk."
"all are not cooks that walk with long knives." (personal fav!)

man, I love a good Russian Proverb, don't you?! how about one more, just for kicks and giggles, let's call it a Meijeran Proverb: "not all rooms with toilets are restrooms."

I'll admit it, I'm a "judger." I do judge books by their covers, I do judge people based on first impressions, I do judge Mexican restaurants by their beans, and I do judge stores by their attention to bathroom cleanliness. like it or not, public bathrooms are important to me. why? because until my children are beyond the age of dying-from-public-bathroom-germs (anyone know what age that is?) I won't be able to relax. and I'm a woman attached to one massive, unpredictable bladder...my 4 year old son.

at any given time while shopping at Meijer, I can tell you how far away I am from the nearest Meijer bathroom. I've had to develop this 8th sense (6th, talking to "dead people" aka teenage son and his friends, 7th identifying Meijer crazies) over the years because my children seem to have every digestive tract ailment while at Meijer. yep, everything from public retching to a 3 year old's unholy screams of "my penis is bent!"

now as I've posted before, my Meijer has gone through a serious/extreme make-over. all of the store's sections and the gas pump have been updated, but apparently, restrooms are slated for a phase VI surgery. this is very frustrating because currently Meijer's "daily restroom maintenance plan" relies on their customer demographic to be 99% neat freaks, or that each restroom guest will adhere to some sort of civilized restroom "honor system." in Target, and Walmart I've noticed they have a sign in the restroom asking customers to inform management when the bathroom is not up to standards. here's the handwritten poem(?) I found once taped to the inside of a Meijer bathroom stall: "If you sprinkle while you tinkle, be a sweetie, clean the seatie."

there are two public restrooms at Meijer, west side entrance and east side Meijer eatery. they have two things in common, poor ventilation (ackkk), and plumbing poltergeists. don't know how strong your constitution is, but I get the gags from strangers' overwhelming inner-body smells that make their outer-body exits. the sight and/or sound of someone heaving their stomach contents doesn't make me want to play copycat, it's the odor. yes, there's a reason I didn't follow my mother's and my grandmother's career plan and become a nurse. but, even with how bad the ventilation is, I'm not sure it's as disturbing/disgusting as chronic plumbing issues.


without sounding like an alarmist, I'm pretty sure Hogwarts' Moaning Myrtle lives in the Meijer eatery restroom. every time I walk in, there is a puddle of liquid large enough to cover the entire floor of the only two stalls and then a separate puddle directly in front of the sinks. heaven forbid you should be sporting your Meijer brand flip-flops and mistakenly head into that restroom! you'll either be grossed out by the idea of very runny ectoplasm seeping over your Meijer manicured toes, or the other obvious liquid seeping over your now heebie-jeebie'd toes. shivers and ewww!

so, here I am, in a Meijer induced Catch-22: I must be crazy to frequent the potentially bio-hazardous Meijer restrooms, but on the other hand, I would be a "lifer" in the Meijer Crazy Commune if I were to investigate the severity of a bent penis(!) in the frozen food section.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Meijer and the big idea

"necessity is the mother of invention." Plato, The Republic.

that is what I call "big 'T' truth." needing something does make the juices in the gray matter flow but so does Waste-ity. see, I think I'm actually a child of the Depression Era. whenever I see something being wasteful or going to waste, I get all I Love Lucy-ified and start thinking of all sorts of clever (read goofy) ways to turn that waste into...non...waste. hmm, it's beginning to sound like I'm talking about sewer or landfill matter, ewww. poo imagery aside, I hate to see things go to waste, but love it when need and waste team up to become The Mutha of invention. Donny Deutsch's studio chaise lounge has hosted plenty of "muthas," and perhaps it's time to make room for me.

so, I've got a Big Idea for Meijer. wanna hear the terribly interesting process that made me come up with my Big Idea? heads nodding? okay, come on!

well, as you know, because I've told you, Michigan has about 5 solid months of winter temperatures. that's point #1. for years now, during each winter, I drive by the massive, fence-enclosed, winter-makes-it-defunct, Meijer Garden Center--frozen, barren, useless. that's point #2.

so, here's my Big Idea that I'm willing to give to Meijer: (fine print--for a mid-five figure idea fee and 12% (just like the number twelve!) of all future gross profits.) outdoor ice skating rink. call it: Skating Under the Stars. or for something more brand-pointed: Meijer's Polar Cap. Meijer, wake up to the money machine sitting out in the wide-open-west parking lot! an outdoor ice skating rink would provide the community with a days-gone-by, Rockefeller Center-esque, winter wonderland attraction. Meijer sells coats, hats, gloves, socks, spandex tights and tutu's (if you're into that kind of skating experience), long-underwear, and even ice-skates! sales of Starbucks coffee would sky-rocket if they would move the existing in-store Starbucks kiosk over to the Garden Center, providing easy access to coffee and cocoa for the chilly skaters. cha-ching! and, heaven forbid, should a mishap occur on the ice, Meijer sells Tylenol, Motrin, and about a zillion different sizes of band-aids. cha-ching, ching!

Meijer is open 24 hours a day, plenty of Midnight Madness skating, and they could re-hire all the phased-out bagboys, creating new jobs and reducing unemployment! and I'm pretty sure Meijer's existing linoleum cleaning "Zamboni" could be used to smooth the ice. Michigan has all the demographics needed for an outdoor ice skating rink. we live in the hockey-mania-heartland, constant profit flow from that demographic. another demographic, lovebirds dying for a better date alternative than a stop at Chipotle and taking in bad, politically- driven Hollywood "entertainment."

and don't be idiotic and ignore the Kristina Yamaguchi/Brian Boitano wannabe demographic. this group would pay any price (and has the ego/desire) to flaunt a toe loop turned into a Lutz, then fake-smile a humble bow to their oblivious fans. oh! the myriad of annoying mountains of bulldozed snow dotting the entire parking lot could be collected to become a sledding feature for families that are split between skating and sledding. ooooo, what about an ice-climbing wall/cliff for the truly adventurous! there you go, two whole new demographics (and merchandise opportunities), take that REI!

so, minds at Meijer, feel free to leave a comment with your contact information, and Mr. Deutsch, I would like dark chocolate green m&m's and cold skim milk in the green room.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Meijer and the battle of the bands

the age-old dilemma is this: Costco allows me to buy in bulk and store food/toiletries for a few months, but it's soooo easy to spend $400 at Costco, then get home and realize you have to go to Meijer to go grocery shopping!

if grocery stores were rock bands, then Meijer and Costco would be the only "artists" that would get any play time on my ipod. granted, they are completely different music genres, but you can't always listen to alternative/techno 80's music, occasionally you need some old school rock...from the 80's.

side note: I'm not exactly an expert on the whole rock music scene. only went to one concert during my six years of living in Colorado--you know, home of the Red Rocks Amphitheater, where u2's Sunday Bloody Sunday music video was taped. well, the Howard Jones concert (pathetic?) I went to was more than memorable for me. my hair was lit on fire by a drunk friend. I use that word loosely. it was a little difficult to have symmetrical big 80's hair after that, and gather the courage to go to another concert.

so I will be using all my MTV (circa 1983-1989) acquired knowledge to make this post genuine. here's to hoping you care about genuine...

there is definitely an old school rock 'n' roll vibe at Costco, you've felt it right? first, you have to flash your backstage pass (membership card) at the massive entry's bouncer in order to get into the venue: makes me feel giddy with special-ness. once inside Costco, there are huge flat screens of entertainment, the floors are industrial cement, there are wafts of pizza and churros in the air, leather lounge chairs and couches (some with massage capabilities), glass cases of rockin' diamond and gold "bling," and the venue's ceilings are gi-normous, even by gi-normous standards. and then there are the Costco roadies.

the roadies at Costco don't wear red (stretched out or otherwise) golf shirts, they don't wear any type of uniform dictated by "The &%@# Man!" Costco roadies wear the international uniform of rock--jeans and t-shirt. even their id tags are stylin', hanging from a lanyard around their neck, clipped on their crew collar or, my personal favorite, on their jeans' belt loop, old school-like.

the grunge looking, working-to-pay-for-pizza-and-beer roadies walk around the store chill-axing in their orange, glow-in-the-dark safety vests. they hang out at the front of the venue, waiting for a call on the walkie-talkie to heft a Nordic Track treadmill into a waiting van. dude...what an awesome career!

and then there's Meijer. no special back stage pass to enter Meijer! Meijer is a free for all mosh pit, they let anyone in. in fact the more crazy your hair, piercings, tattoos and personality the better! totally rad, man. ceilings aren't quite as gi-normous as Costco, but they are swathed in not-too-white paint, and sport mod, domed, tinted plasti-glass cameras that hang from the ceiling, similar to my favorite college dance club--Plastique! no huge flat screen entertainment as you walk in, Meijer offers several sleek small flat screens throughout the store, showing previews for failing network television shows and the occasional Meijer ad. yeah, blatant 80's consumerism at it's best.

the floors aren't the industrial coolness of cement, just beige flecked linoleum with scuff marks from devoted groupies looking for a deal on potato chips. Meijer doesn't have roadies per se, more like red uniformed Devo-esque worker drones, (Cool-Whip, it good!). Meijer doesn't smell like pizza and churros, but there is an ever-present contemporary smell (off-gassing?)of plastic and metal. however, on a bad winter day the store does take on a complex gut-wrenching smell of mud, wet dog and open 24 hours-a-day body odor. Meijer's cases of "bling" are definitely reminiscent of the alternative rock bands make-up: purple/pink jewel tones surrounded by curious shapes of silvery metal.

so in my little world of grocery bands, do I prefer one group over another? not really. I guess it boils down to this: whether Meijer or Costco, the heart of rock 'n' roll is still beating.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Meijer and the scientific reserve

FYI: Scientific reserves are smaller (10–100 hectares). They protect ecological groupings, plant or animal communities for scientific study and education. They are ...often used for intensive research or education programmes. (www.teara.govt.nz)

it's a chilly evening and I'm walking/trudging toward Meijer's west entrance. I notice a woman in front of me trying to quickly reach the warm Meijer airlock by doing the Michigan jig of hop-skip-and-a-jump across frozen tire tracks and semi-frozen puddles. I'm fairly impressed since she looks to be 60 years of age. "Nordic blood," I think to myself. I always mutter that when I see feats of winter wonderment; guy that shovels snow in shorts, joggers casually flicking sleet from their eyes, or geezer-before-his-time being warmed by his cigarette on a "smoke break" during a blizzard. Nordic blood, obviously.

back to human Petra Cottontail. I'm keeping up with her and notice that as soon as we reach the airlock, her pace slows, her shoulders slump and her head tilts to one side. "that's odd," I think as I come along side her, ready to offer assistance should it be required. the second set of doors open and I watch as P.C. beckons Meijer greeter to her and in a whispery/raspery (made that one up) voice and sudden arthritic limbs she indicates that she needs a motorized cart. hippity-hoppity say what?!

I grab a cart from the cart corral and head toward the produce section. I was still a bit flabbergasted that people pretend to be stroke victims to avoid using their perfectly healthy legs, just to get a very slow ride around the superstore. is my analytical/scientific mind missing something? what, is this the equivalent of riding the Meijer penny pony for the healthy but lazy geriatric set? maybe putting on an act is just her way of "mixing it up?" or maybe this is a prank; she's a new rushee pledging for some assisted living facility's sorority, Omega Lambda Delta? (Ω Λ Δfor Greek fanatics)

I'm trying to analyze these questions (and more) when I vaguely notice a Meijer customer exit a cashier stall about 100 feet in front of me. he pushes his one-bag-in-the-cart towards my direction about 5 steps, then for reasons unknown to me, stops and mumbles something in frustration, takes his bag out of his cart and leaves his cart perpendicular to the aisle and walks off in a huff. he is literally 95 feet from the cart corral (and he's going to pass the cart corral) but, he has to leave his cart in the middle of a high traffic area.

like a patient Jane Goodall, I watch as more exiting customers 1.) halt at empty cart, 2.) frantically search for owner of obstacle, then, 3.) accept their pitiful plight. repeatedly, the same solution is applied; 4.) carefully maneuver around empty cart. not one subject moved the cart out of the way. from the time it took me to reach the blocking cart I watched this play out 5 times, with the only variable being the occasional swearing angrily at empty cart. (scientific journal note: my deep-seated dedication to science doesn't allow me to interfere by removing this hindrance from people's grocery experience. I'm here to observe and record. sometimes the demands of science aren't palatable, but I've accepted my role as objectionable observer--I mean--objective observer. tee hee.)

perhaps not to be outdone by the other two cases that I have just observed, I happen upon this field observer's gem: upon arriving at the produce section I see a woman plop a $4 clamshell container of blueberries in her at-capacity cart, push her cart over to Meijer's "eatery," stand there for a moment (possibly reflecting on life's intricacies?), then leave her cart and exit the store. I meandered around the produce section for about 10 minutes, subject never returned.

that's what I love about the protected anthro/psych scientific reserve at Meijer, field studies offer so many questions, so many possible answers, and so much material.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Meijer and the holidays

since my near collision with the Meijer Law, I've decided to take a hiatus from the superstore. I'm hoping the black and white, fuzzy, smeared, xerox'd photos of me carrying a bag of unpaid groceries has been removed from the store's wall of shoplifter shame--well, I guess technically I was an almost shoplifter...who had no intention of shoplifting. oh, whatever.

but I did want to wish you all a belated: Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy?/Merry? Kwanzaa, and a very Happy New Year. woo-hoo 2009!

the vacation is nearly over and I for one am looking forward to the normal long lines at Meijer, the normal 8 out of 32 lanes open and the normal union's disregard for the customer. ahhhh, how I've pined for the normal superstore during this jam-packed, frenzied holiday season.

I was just thinking, it's only 42 days 'til Valentines day, do you think Meijer has yanked Season's Greetings/Happy New Year and has "decked their halls" with pink and red hearts yet?

I'll keep you posted.

oh, Happy Valentine's Day...in advance.