Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Meijer and the not-quite season

if you are lucky enough to live in NYC, you have access to a pretty amazing tradition; Christmas window displays. 

represented are the 3 Bs: BarneysBloomingdale's, and Bergdof Goodman. with of course, Saks, Macy's, Lord & Taylor's and... Tiffany's! *gasp + moan + jaw drop* 

these window displays are a year of prep--no, seriously. for these brilliant window designers and staff, Christmas season is all year long! #lucky

this is silly, and maybe even a little sad, but starting October 15th, I avoid the supersize-superstore for as long as possible. 

why?

because I have this yearly "Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus," hope that when the glass airlock doors whoosh open sometime in November, I will be greeted with a wintry-wonderland of whimsy, over the top make-over dedicated to the greatest season of the year, Christmas!

look, I'm an optimistic realist, so I keep my expectations in check. all I ask for is: 

1. a holiday season soundtrack featuring the greats: Bing Crosby & David Bowie's Little Drummer Boy, Frank Sinatra and fill-in-the-blank-artist, singing fill-in-the-blank-Christmas song, Nat King Cole singing any and every Christmas jingle, and Wham!'s Last Christmas, on loop over Meijer's sound system. 

2. a general upping of their game in the supersized-superstore departments (grocery, pharmacy, clothes, outdoor, pets, etc.). maybe fall somewhere between NYC's dripping grandeur, and the night Buddy the Elf prepped Gimbels for SANTA!!!

too much...? 

to ask?

apparently so, *resigned sighbecause this is what I discovered when I walked in to my midwest Meijer today... 



sure, I acknowledge the oversized cardboard "ornaments" hanging from the rafters, effort--but this is the entrance(!) for crying out loud! and by the way, the ornaments are hanging over the garbage bin, rake and leaf bag displays, with a side of punkin pie! #seasonmashupfail

I walked deeper into the store, came upon these beauties as I walked passed the plus-size women's department.


better, but is this all a I'm-so-in-the-Christmas-mood customer gets? 

I rallied on, maybe the west-side staff are die hard Thanksgiving fans. I cross my fingers, hoping the east-siders have got their Jingle game on. 

alas... produce department offered this conundrum, cavity/weight-gain culprit soda in the fresh fruit and veggies section? wha--?!

I rethink my incongruent criticism, I mean, what if this is it? what if this is the best Meijer has to offer me this year?! the sugar-bubblewater display does somewhat cleverly use the beloved Christmas colors, and has a "tree." (feels like cardboard is becoming a Meijer theme) I feel my Christmas cheer-o-meter sink. 

I walked all over the store, hoping against hope that other departments had more to offer. then it occurred to me, have I jumped the Christmas season store-display gun...? and then... proof.

empty shelves and a trolley of Lindt boxes waiting to be emptied. it's like I was just hours too early! *clenches fist, waves it at ceiling security cameras*

side note: "C  HRISTMAS"? I'm guessing whoever wrote this also wrote these signs

and that's when I knew. this isn't NYC. this isn't Saks--not even close. and it isn't time for Christmas (or even C hristmas), I was a victim of my own Christmas premature-adoration.  

but it's okay. it's all good. I won't let Meijer squelch my cheer, my seasonal smile, my goodwill to mankind. 

I have the perfect revenge reply to Meijer's slow-to-the-season, paltry decor. an act of Jingle Defiance, if you will, a way to get everyone to feel the Christmas spirit...



pah-rum-pum-pum-pum, baby.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Meijer and the walk

since January, I've been paying people to hurt me. 

sounds wacko, right? let me put it another way... 

since January, I've been paying people to teach me how to fight like my life is on the line. (☚ much better, a less wacko vibe.) (sorta.)

it's called Krav Maga, the Israeli Defense Forces fighting style. because of this training, I've learned some pretty cool (like, killer cool) skills in weight lifting, endurance, disarming weapons and how to inflict brutal, quick-fire pain. 

this training has changed me physically and mentally, and as it turns out, has impacted my Meijer, the superstore, experience.

fun fact--I've always been a good "walker." my mother taught me how to properly walk in heels: shoulders/hips aligned to create balance, medium-length stride (short strides are halting, long strides are ridiculous) and walk with confidence. I got so good that I can run in heels on sand, gravel or cobblestone streets with nary a twisted ankle. 

now that I'm into month 9 of KM, I've learned new walking tips: be aware, look people in the eye, don't carry a purse (purses are robber magnets), and my favorite, look strong. accordingly, my walking style has a new characteristic--"strong." and during my last Meijer visit, I discovered that some people have taken note...

I went home after my workout, got ready for the day (t-shirt, jeans and my favorite leather half-boots with a 2.5 inch heels), and left the house for a quick Meijer stop. 

I only needed three items, no need for a cart, but they were items that hit three different areas in the superstore: grocery (extra lean ground beef), toiletries (black nitrile exam gloves--not a fan of cleaning raw meat out of my fingernails) and outdoor (charcoal); grill night!

I knew something was up the moment the sliding doors whooshed open. I removed my sunglasses and noted that this time, Greeter Lady was Greeter Man--and in my strong, confident, balanced manner, I walked inside the superstore. 

GMan began his memorized greeting, then stopped, turned sideways and lowered his eyes, as if I were royalty, come to see how the commoners shop. 

"that was weird," I mutter to myself, very unroyal like.

I medium-stride through produce, the clutch of grape-foragers tasters hurriedly replace the grape they were about to "test" and scurry away from their buffet as I walk by. 

"hmm, odd."

I'm walking through the Maze of Carb Tables (bakery department) and note that Mr. Meat Packing man is unloading his seven foot tall trolley. He eyes me, realizes I'm headed his way, and fumble-rushes to pull the cart from my line of path. 

same scenarios across the store as I make my way to toiletries for exam gloves, hunched elderly with cane picks up the pace as I approach--nearly breathless from the exertion. pairs of eyes avert as I attempt to make eye contact.

"am I really that intimidating?" I ratchet my strong walk stride down a notch to relaxed

with the next person who sidesteps to get out of my way, I try to make doe-eye contact with a cute (non-aggressive) smile; a desperate attempt to convey the reality that I'm a nice person for crying out loud! what is going on with you blankety-blank Meijer crazies?!

with meat and gloves in one hand and a large lumpy bag of charcoal in the other, I head for the u-scans at the front of the store. 

I notice three Muslim women, wearing niqabs, walking towards me. (nothing unusual about this. c'est la vie here in Michigan. we have dozens of thriving international communities--Polish, Chinese, Syrian, Indian, Korean, Saudi, Japanese, French, Iraqi, Mexican, Israeli, Russian...to name a few. makes for some great food festivals!)

getting closer, I was determined to prove to my fellow humans that I was a kind, compassionate-type human. I smile a sincere smile, just about to say, "hello" when they purposely w i d e - c i r c l e walk around me. 

gonna be honest, I was crushed. I slowed my relaxed, non-intimidating walking pace and hung my head.

and that's when I saw it.

my t-shirt.

I wore one of my Krav Maga t-shirts, the ALL-CAPS letters written in English, and in Hebrew. in case you didn't click on the Krav Maga wikipedia hyper link above, the words, KRAV MAGA literally translate to: CONTACT COMBAT(!). it wasn't my balanced, confident, strong walk that was intimidating, it was my IDF/Mossad fighting-style t-shirt! #wardrobemalfunction

the faces of all the people I interacted with whizzed through my head-- all of them a mix of Middle Eastern heritage, hence a mix of awe and concern. 

my ever quick/clever mind commands my arm to heft the bag of charcoal to my chest, carrying it like a baby to cover my t-shirt. 

that imbalanced distribution of weight threw off my stride--pretty sure I looked more clumsy than balanced/confident/strong--but for the rest of my walk across the superstore I gave smiles and "hellos" and was soooo relieved to see that in return...

I was flatly ignored.

*content sigh*

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.

yeah. 

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."

Friday, February 17, 2017

Meijer and the chair

ummm.

my, "it's 4:45pm, it's been a busy day, better stop by Meijer to pick up dinner (the ginormous Meijer Super Sub for $5)," jaunt had an interesting, no unsettling plot twist.

a New Greeter lady.
a chair.

mind blown yet? no?

NG lady was sitting in the chair! 

twiiiiist!

in my long-suffering 20 years of Meijerdom, I have never, and I mean ne-ver, experienced the greeter + chair combo. my observation has been that greeters stand because they also have responsibilities to straighten the area, help with directions, answer silly questions--"are you open yet?", and intervene with the occasional thwarting of the sinister types when the security mwhaa-mwhaa sound goes off.

it still doesn't compute, I mean, she is younger (by at least 15 years!) than every other greeter that I have half-heartedly, half-smiled at. 

can you even fathom how weird it is to walk through the airlock-- per normal, hear the doors whoosh open-- per normal, to then be bludgeoned with a perfectly healthy 50 year old, sitting in a chair-- not per normal? 

that's off-guard catching enough, but then, slouching-on-the-armrest NG lady looks at me with a blank look, as if she's totally bored by 5th period biology, and proceeds to give me the half-hearted head nod. no chirpy "welcome to Meijer" script, no working-to-be-sincere smile-- a head nod.

I was half-hearted outdone by the chair-sitting NG lady!

my feelings exactly, Keanu. #soulmates

*cue mind blown* 


Friday, February 10, 2017

Meijer and the Granny Smith savant

three times a year, I appear to be a Meijer crazy. 

let me explain.

I work with 12-18 year-old young women, and for the past three years we've made gourmet chocolate/caramel covered apples as a fundraiser for summer camp.

did you notice the italics and bold on the word "gourmet?" yeah, that's not exaggeration, take a look see...


these beauties are a hit, because we use quality control parameters, a whole lot of effort and gobs of TLC (tremendous layers of chocolate). ;)

it all starts with the perfect tart Granny Smith apple. from Meijer. and only Meijer. 

before Meijer gets an inflated ego, I made the decision 3 years ago to use Meijer as our exclusive supplier (⬅ business lingo) because they have the quantity/quality ratio that I need when searching for 70 apples. yes, se-ven-ty! that's our typical pre-order for each event that we make them: Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and Father's Day. 

here's the "moment she appears crazy part," I hand select every apple

and no, don't even get the image in your precious little head of me standing in front of Meijer's gourmet apple mockery section...


nope! 

I do not "hand select" pre-bagged damaged apples the size of GMO walnuts. 

to find 70 gourmet apples (firm, no blemishes, no bruising, so-big-that-I-can't-wrap-my-fingers-around it), my crazy-for-thirty-minutes world begins here...


loose apples, three layers deep. 

I have a system, that involves higher math and complicated patented algorithms, on how to efficiently inspect every layer of the apple bin. that's how high the apple perfection bar is, and what usually makes me appear crazy. 

side note: if your hankering for a really good GS apple, don't come looking after 8:30am on the Wednesday before above mentioned celebration days. #myrejectsarenowyours

but this year, *sigh* this year I didn't need 70 of the GS gems, I needed 100(!). which means I'm appearing crazy for even longer. 

actually, what's really crazy are the hilarious (⬅heavy sarcasm) comments that people barrage me with...

"an apple a day... you must hate doctors." 
"wow, that's a lot of applesauce." 
"juicing your own?"
"you know there's bagged apples over there, right?"
"while you're looking, can you grab me a few good ones?"
"you know those are the sour ones, right?"

my typical auto-pilot reply is a "teehee," or just blatant ignore and keep searching. 

listen people, I can't chat, keep count, juggle the apple bin/layer algorithm, grip an apple to test its firmness, hold it up to the light (incandescent lighting shadows are the worst!) then spin it, searching for even the slightest soft dip in the skin-- I'm not a multi-tasking apple savant(!)... yet. #crossingtheMeijercrazyline 

nine produce bags, filled with 10 apples each, are gently piled in my cart. thrilled, I grab my last produce bag, lift up the formed pressed cardboard for the last layer of apples--only 10 more to go!--and reveal a sea of waxy-green apples-- blotted with bruises. 

Meijer has a new pop-up screen on their check-out screens. the screen offers 'YES' or 'NO' buttons, and asks: "Were you satisfied with your Meijer experience?" 

I Meijer crazy mutter to myself, "90%, Meijer. 90%." 



Monday, January 30, 2017

Meijer and the nirvana sick day

just one of the multitudinous joys of parenthood is the sick day. 

this is the day when your kid has to 1) go to the doctor's office, then 2) go get a prescription.

as any professional mom will tell you, items 1) and 2) listed above take ALL DAY LONG. heaven help you if you should have any other errands/to-dos on your list, even if you get the first 9am slot/appointment, you can't accomplish anything else. 

can. not.

even though the entire pediatric office visit was a long, waiting nightmare of shifting blocks of time between the waiting room and the exam room, the final outcome question, "where would you like me to send in that prescription?" made it all worth it.

"Meijer. the supersized, superstore, please." (teehee)

as those words lyrically flowed from my lips, it hit me. that one split-decision, that one insignificant choice between Rite-Aid, CVS and the superstore, just nudged me into the nirvana of sick days, the veritable cosmic alignment, nexus, balance of doctor/prescription/errands, and I made it all revolve around Meijer.

I couldn't get out of the doctor's office fast enough, anxious to verify my errand list in the car that everything could be done at Meijer... 🤞

*post office, mail package ✔
*redbox return ✔
*groceries ✔
*gas for car ✔
*gift card ✔

I grabbed a pen and wrote the final errand...

*prescription(!) ✔
  
*serenity whisper chants, om...*⃔ (Sanskrit, thx google!)

the newly remodeled glass doors whooshed open, I bolted for the pharmacy--I had a plan. 

since I was the adult, and keeper of all adult pieces of plastic (insurance card/debit card) I would slowly age stand in line at the pharmacy queue, then send my son out to the wide world of Meijer to take care of the rest of the errands. 

"ok, we need these groceries..." son looks over the 5 item list.

"what and where is bucatini?"

I turn around to point my son in the right direction, when it hit me... remodel!

I haven't yet memorized the aisle numbers in this supersized superstore! I mentally chided myself, "aisle numbers?! you don't even know where the blankety-blank redbox is anymore!" 

between my mind's chastisement, and my frantic mental map search of the superstore's redbox location, I peripherally hear my son's voice, asking more questions/directions about the 5 item grocery list.

I feel the inner peace dissipate from my soul as the nirvana sick day slips away.

despite the supersized superstore's shredding of my plan, I am a believer in silver linings. I regrouped, then spent the next 1.5 hours chatting with my son while we waited in line at:

*Meijer pharmacy
*Meijer u-scan
*Meijer redbox
*Meijer postal services/customer service
*Meijer gas station

when we finally pulled into our garage, 

"thanks, mom. I had fun with you."

nirvana.