I Master the Fine Art of Grocery Shopping

Just over five years ago, my 30+ year career in corporate America came to an abrupt and totally unexpected end when I, and ultimately 3,000 or so of my coworkers, found ourselves out of work. To a large degree this action was taken so that the company’s senior management team could apply the savings recouped from our salaries to their bottom line and thus assure themselves of reaping their annual bonuses for another “Job Well Done”.

I’ve lost track, and frankly any interest, in what slights of hand those guys have used to continue to ensure the receipt of their annual ill-gotten largesse, but I can assure you that they are more than up to the task!

In any event, that’s only an introduction to today’s ramble.

Shortly after finding myself in an unexpected state of early retirement, one of the domestic tasks that I took on was responsibility for the weekly trip to the grocery store.

I remember cruising the aisles of the local Publix (my personal grocery supplier of choice) at around 10:00 a.m. on a Tuesday and seeing another middle-aged male pushing a cart down the aisle toward me. As we passed, we exchanged a mute glance that seemed to say to each of us, “What are you doing in here at a time like this? You should be at work.”

Unfortunately, this scene was to be replayed with increasing frequency over the next few months as more and more of my peers joined the ranks of the un- or under-employed.

But I digress once again.

I quickly took a real liking to the act of grocery shopping. I approached the task as I had done so many others during my work life. I began to systematize the process, eliminating non-value adding steps, and laying out a route through the store that minimized the distance I had to travel and the time that it took for me to load my cart.

It goes without saying that I never entered the store without a list of the items I was after.  As I’ve told my wife many times over the years, “I never shop, I buy!”

I was intent on developing grocery shopping into a highly efficient art form.

It wasn’t long before I became known as a regular at the store. The stock clerks would nod in recognition, dare I say admiration, as I sped down their aisles. I plucked items off the shelves without stopping, intent on achieving my objective with minimum effort and no loss of time.

I knew I had “arrived” so to speak when, on one memorable morning, as I turned my cart into the checkout queue, the clerk, a short and very pleasant Russian woman, looked up at me and said, “You really know what you’re doing! You, a good customer, are!”

Then she handed me a Hershey’s chocolate almond nugget!

I was as happy to receive that Hershey’s nugget as my old senior management team is over their annual bonuses.

Well, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch (a whopper actually), but it brings a smile to my face anyway.

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