Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Meijer and the barrier


this post is going to be difficult. I hesitate to share because, well... I think I was a jerk. *guilty grimace* it should be titled: "Meijer and the poo denier, pt. 2" because it happened on the same crappy (see what I did there?) day.

clearly, I was stressed out by the poo smearings, and the repeated texts from my son, and repeated phone calls from his birthday party host/friend... but that's no excuse. 

I could've been more patient and thoughtful because, I'm from the South (bless your heart!); we eat charm and hospitality for breakfast, lunch and dinner-- and then dunk it in our mint herbal tea on the porch, as we wave to passing strangers! I was raised better--

*southern-accent sigh...

I suppose, in a way, Meijer is cutting-edge-- at manipulating the customer into doing their work. first they eliminated the bagboy and installed the "round-about" bagging system which meant the customer was now "helping" the cashier bag groceries. 

then, the "12 items or less u-scan" scam was enacted, pitting humans against machine (humans will eventually lose this battle, for with each infuriating, time-wasting experience we lose several dozen braincells. the machines are just messing with us until that collective fateful day).  

the u-scan then evolved into the "unlimited item u-scan." the beauty of this braincell-popping, lull-the-humans-into-self-destruction machine is the hinged 3' plastic barrier that keeps groceries separate. so, in theory, while customer A is bagging their purchases, customer B can start scanning their purchases. 

makes sense, right? 

whoa(!), not so fast you makes-sense-thinking-human. 

not. so. fast. 

I have never seen anyone use the barrier, ever. I've seen the Meijer u-scan jockeys yell prompt customers from The Podium of Power to use the barrier, but eventually, they have to stomp over and make it happen when no one dared "pressure" the person holding up the brilliant Meijer system... 

and *gulp,* that's where I come in, Miss Southern Belle that has, apparently, lived with the native Yankees for far too long.

rarely do I accept Meijer crazies as nemeses. but on that day, in that moment, when I was the 2nd person queued for the scan nightmare, the slower than molasses in January (keep the southern imagery alive), Meijer crazy got elevated to Nemesis status when she completed her purchases, looked back at next-in-line comrade, then at me and then at her splayed groceries.

she inhaled and released a long pitiful exhale, as if the bagging task was infinitely more difficult and life-sapping than the eternal dilemma of poor mythical Sisyphus and his pet rock. 

for a moment, her eyes rested on the 3' barrier--aka, the device that could've restored my faith in humanity--her hand reached out... my faith-in-humanity-meter lifted with anticipation--

and came crashing down when she reached for her bag of quinoa and millet ("organic quinoa and millet" is understood, right?).

when customer in front of me lifts a finger to point out the barrier, Nemesis sneered a withering "don't even," challenge; nearly squeezing the "fu" out of her tofu purchase in her raised fist. to drive home her supposed-to-be-intimidating point, Nemesis slowly places the juicy squareness of no-flavor "food" into a Meijer bag.

where I come from, that's "ugly" behavior and when someone gets ugly, all bets are off. I step in front of my 4' 0", cowed comrade (I'm 5' 7", but in my leather ankle-boots I'm a solid 5' 9-ish"), armed with my Southern secret-weapon: KILL THEM WITH KINDNESS.

you think I'm joking, but I'm serious. Southern Serious. 

no one can beat this strategy. there is no socially acceptable countermove to the KTWK without looking like a rude, shameless such-n-such. Nemesis had no idea that my winning smile was the equivalent of Michael giving Fredo the kiss of death. 

*cue "Godfather" flashback*

I smile and reach for the barrier: "this will help--"

Nemesis: "I was just about to do that! you can't wait 15 SECONDS--?!!"

ahh, evil Nemesis doesn't give a rat's behind about her socially-acceptable checkmate dilemma? 

Very well... I un-Southerned and Yankeed-up within 1.2 seconds. 

*smile gone, replaced with tight-lip, raised left eyebrow and the deadly quiet-mom-voice* 

me: "No, I can wait-- but today, I won't wait."

I drop barrier into place, turn and get back in line behind 4' 0" pole-position woman, who I'm pretty sure was fighting a smile, and grew 5" as she stepped up to begin scanning her items.

let this be a lesson kids; the Civility War is not over.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Meijer and the Helvetica outrage

apparently, every 10 years Meijer gets a makeover. 

in 2006, I posted this entry about my hopes and dreams for the Marsha makeover, and then the subsequent shredding of said hopes/dreams. Marsha's pretty/perky exterior couldn't hide the hideously uncouth soul of Jan.

recently, in 2016 (oh my gosh, time flies!), I turned left into the wide-open-west parking lot and was hit with major deja vu... the railroad construction containers are back-- with a vengeance!

not gonna lie, my heart skipped a beat. all a flutter, in my chosen parking spot, I stared wide-eyed at the metal containers...

"is this it?" 
questioned my once again hopeful heart. 
"is this the makeover that actually drives a stake into Jan's putrid walking-dead soul?" 
(wow, that took an unexpected HBO-esque turn.)

after taking the necessary time (8 seconds) to reflect on my heart's vicious inner-monologue, I decided guarded optimism would be the wisest policy.

but then, I stepped inside and realized that no type of optimism, guarded or otherwise should've been in my game plan:

1. live "plants and flowers" section takes up an absurd amount of realty in this pre-makeover. there are so many hyper-perfumed flowers, my lungs and sinuses instantly went into lock-down mode. you'd think they'd at least put this pollen-cloud hazmat disaster near the Allegra-D aisle, but no. 

2. "his/her birthday, son/daughter birthday, funny birthday, from us birthday, naughty birthday, etc." previously, the superstore housed maybe 4 half-displays (8' long?) of greeting cards; now there are 5 half-displays and 3 full-length displays of greeting cards! are there even that many people with birthdays in this world?! okay, maybe, but do they all shop at Meijer? #doubtful 

3. wall of cheese has disappeared. no joke. all those pre-packaged, pre-shredded, dyed-yellow, rubbery time-savers-- poof! instead, there's a floor to ceiling, sinister wall; half white plastic (like the kind you find in 1980's slasher films), half white particle board (not particularly creepy, but...) with lots of machinery-noise shrieking from beyond. it sounds like a torture chamber, intensified by the fact that you can't see what is going on behind the wall! it's like being snow-blind in a 17th century Spanish inquisition dungeon. yeah, exactly like that.

granted, the destruction/construction horrors will be temporary, and could possibly purge the insipid, insidious soul of Jan forever (fingers crossed, knock on wood), but there's still item #4 that is new and permanent, that I can't abide. new signage has already been strung from the rafters and it's unsettling because...

they've desecrated the beloved Helvetica, but... I'm not sure how. I know there's something wrong with it, a chubby width(?) with an unnatural height(?); perhaps it's the tail of the lowercase 'y'? I can't figure it out, but when I search for the aisle labeled "salty snacks," I hear raspy Gollum wail in my head, "it hurts us!"

silver-lining? I created the perfect Facebook activism slogan. #saveHelveticafromJan

Monday, May 02, 2016

Meijer and the poo denier

if there is a day of the week that I have come to hate, it's Saturday. don't look so shocked, you know exactly what I mean--every kid's sporting event, recital, birthday party, tutoring, clothes shopping and family together time happens on Saturday; seemingly back-to-back. no matter how many lifehack, time-management gurus or Art of Simple blogs I roll my eyes at religiously follow throughout the week, I never have enough time on Saturday. 

it was Saturday. I was zooming through produce, shocked that Honeycrisp apples were still available, that the green beans were not actually brown-spotted beans, that bananas were mostly ripe and the Kumatos weren't fuzzy. it felt like I was Kali, the multi-armed Hindu goddess of time and empowerment, minus the blue skin. *shrugs* can't have it all. 

and then I saw her walk between the baked-a-week-ago cookies and cellophane-wrapped sponge-cake tartlets.

she looked like every other teenager: earbuds, phone, uggs; except this version was attached to a cute yellow labrador puppy. scratch that (no pun intended, tee hee), a "Leader Dog for the Blind" in training. 

no, this isn't a "dogs shouldn't be in a grocery store, shaking dog hair all over the exposed produce!" post. I respect the Leader Dog/Puppy, truly I do. it was the distracted human attached via leash to the LDP that proved to be the bane to my existence. 

I was once again playing beat the clock. I had to get a gift card for my son's friends birthday, grab some other necessities, get in line, get home, grab my son, and get him to said birthday party before 12:10. I glance at my phone, 11:38. yeah, I was screwed.

I rush to other side of the store, when I notice strange items on the multi-flecked linoleum floor ahead of me. ancient evolutionary warnings slow my speed-walking gait, part of my brain thinking I'm hallucinating, it can't be... it can't...

it is. 

dog poo piles, 18" apart. in Meijer--the superstore. 

I avoid the nasties, and search for the nearest Meijer associate. my shock and disbelief has plateaued enough for me to point and stammer, "um, over there-- there's poo."


just as I turn and point to the trifecta of poo, teenager with guilty-looking puppy nears, oblivious to the dangers ahead. I begin to wave her off, as Meijer associate bellows behind me, "what do you mean, poo? dog poo?!"

Meijer associate's decibels must've been louder than teenager's soundcloud choice, because she looks up, sees my warning wave, grimace and emphatic pointing at the make-shift doggy toilet. 

Meijer associate is next to me now, armed with his accusatory look and exclamation of "dog poo?!" his glare rises from floor, then bores into teenager with the vest-wearing poo-machine on a leash.

teenager girl doesn't flinch, doesn't even remove an earbud (the 21st century's polite thing to do in this scenario) as she flatly states, "not my poo." 

she then proceeds to maneuver around the piles-- oddly enough, the exact size of pile one would expect to come out of a puppy. I can feel the blood-boiling heat come off the Meijer associate, as I quietly push my cart away from this potential lawsuit.

the rest of the conversation seemed mostly one-sided as Meijer associate asks teenager to explain her assertion; "whose poo could it possibly be when there's only one dog in the store...?!"

back to my time-crunch. I whizzed over to birthday supplies, searched for an appropriate cool/funny/not childish b-day card, a gift bag and tissue paper. hallelujah, I can finally go get in line! I was forced to return back to the smelly scene of the crime, except-- there was no teenager, no puppy. instead-- two Meijer associates, a look of horror on their "what now?!" faces. 

it seems that while I was gone, associate's need to make the poo denier admit her offense meant that he didn't clean-up the poo, much less rope off the area. 


spread across thirty feet of Meijer's blah-tinted-flecked linoleum tiles, multiple skid marks, from defiled Meijer carts, streaked the main walk-way in front of the precious few (only 7 lanes open on Saturday?!!) staffed check-out lanes.  

eww. eww. eww. 

my phone chimes an incoming text: "mom? where are you?!"

my thumb taps out the only possible reply: h-e-l-l.