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.

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