To the grocery store!
They got edible cactus in a jar
Mixes and accessories for my bar
Breakfast cereal that comes in a box
Bagels, cream cheese and even the lox
Fruits thoughtfully sealed inside of wax
Winged feminine products sold in packs
Only forty-two varieties of Wheat Thins
Toilet paper with gels squirted in
Everything you ever needed and more
You’ll find it all at the grocery store!
A wise woman once said, “I learned a hard lesson this day. … [N]ever and I repeat NEVER EVER take Tom shopping again!!!” This person was my wife of two years ago. Not my wife of today. Apparently the two have never met.
Our story begins and ends in a grocery store…
It usually begins with a ruse. It almost always involves some form of deception but quite often an element of me not mindfully listening.
“Wanna go get a hamburger?” my wife will innocently ask.
“Yeah! Let’s go!”
Then the car slows and pulls into the grocery store parking lot.
“Holy shit!” I yell. “What fresh hell is this?”
“Oh, we just need a few things.”
“OK,” I grumble. “At least I got my my iPad. I can try to earn some dino bucks or read some Game of Thrones on the Kindle. I’ll see ya in a couple hours.”
“No, you’re going with me. This is shopping we need to do together.”
I have my ways, though. And it begins the moment we cross the threshold past those automated doors.
I grab the first thing I see. “Hey, lookie right here! Mango peach salsa! And at a reasonable price.” Grab. Swoosh. It’s in the cart.
“I ain’t eatin’ that shit!”
“You said we needed salsa!”
“Yeah, but not that salsa. I was thinking something more local and organic. Put. It. Back.”
Twelve feet later, “Hey, look at this! A box of boneless chicken wings in buffalo sauce! And it’s only $9.00. I want that.”
But then, with a twinkle in my eye, a small measure of hope.
“Maybe bringing you in here was a mistake.”
“Holy shit,” I say, gesturing down the current aisle of doom. “Look at all that yellow.”
I was referring, of course, to the Safeway yellow tags that denote currently available special promotions. And I made sure my comments were inappropriately loud so store personnel could hear. (Not that they actually give a shit.)
“I’ll bet there’s 42 yellow tags on this aisle alone.” Talk about understatement. I decided to conduct a science experiment. My mission? To find a single product that did not have a yellow tag. I sure wouldn’t want to be that poor son of a bitch.
It proved to be an insurmountable challenge.
I paused to thoughtfully stroke my chin. “Logic tells us,” I pontificated, “that if every product has a yellow tag then yellow no longer denotes special. Hell, it doesn’t even denote average. The actual meaning is a bit more mundane. Mere existence.”
“Thanks for the help, Safeway, but we already know the product exists. It’s real. It’s firm. It takes up space. It resides in at least four known planes. It has physical properties. We get it.”
It’s for sale. Therefore it exists.
Safeway scientists are always hard at work to answer the great mystery of life: How to crowbar your wallet against your will. True, they could just point a gun and mug you as you step through those automated doors, but that’s too easy. Even Safeway wants a greater challenge than that. Besides, it’s bad for repeat business. Instead they opted for a trust-based consensual system. That’s why the shopping carts are all equipped with automated LoJack systems and The Club.
Then, one day, a Safeway researcher noticed something that was downright fascinating. Simply affixing a yellow tag denoting a promotional special to a product caused an increase in sales of that very same product.
Whatever did this mean? All of the scientists got together to discuss the findings. There was substantial peer review. A super-collider was built. Then some brainiac (probably the bag boy) said, “Let’s try it with two products at the same time.”
The results were staggering. Safeway had a true winner on their hands. They almost won a Nobel Prize in grocery achievement but got narrowly beat out by the in-store television set. (Because that took a lot of genius.)
Safeway’s reasoning was impeccable. If one is good, and two is better, then all is the only way to go. Store managers across the land began to spread the word to their minions. “Put yellow on every product you see! Every. Single. One. Our very lives depend upon it!”
And that’s the story of the great yellow dye shortage of the 21st century. All of the yellow known to exist was exponentially consumed by Safeway to produce promotional tags.
I know, that’s a lot more information than any of us ever wanted. I guess sometimes shopping can be an educational experience. I hope to go again soon, in the name of science, just to see what else can be learned. As always I will report my findings in this space.
Happy shopping and may you always get the cart with the wobbly wheel. (As if there is any other kind.)