Grocery Store Envy (Or "A Lament on Ghetto Kroger")


I pretty much hate going to the grocery store. It's the worst.

First, I drive over to what we affectionately call the "ghetto Kroger" near our house and try to navigate the parking lot without being fatally injured. It's kind of like playing Mario Kart but a lot slower and with dumber drivers. Yes, dumber drivers than Bowser and freaking Baby Peach (who let her in that game? I swear.)

After dodging three different '93 Buicks driven by people who don't understand four-way stops or how parking lots work, I finally find an open spot approximately six miles away.

It's not really six miles away, but at the grocery store, anything farther than the four rows directly in front of the store and 10 cars deep might as well be six miles away.

I inch my car in next to the tank of a pickup truck with a crooked mirror which also happens to be OVER the line (UGH) but manage to make it in.

Of course, a surly woman with three kids and an overflowing grocery cart pulls up next to my driver's side door and proceeds to open all her van doors whilst kids climb in and she unloads her groceries. I try to catch her eye and smile but actually communicate "MOVE IT LADY I'M TRYING TO DO THE THING I HATE MOST IN THE WORLD, HERE" with my mind.

She finally gets the hint after giving me the stink eye and I can go inside.

Kroger--at least our Kroger-- has this signature dingy fluorescent glow that really grinds my gears, but by now I'm used to it. They're usually out of some form of produce and/or meat I need after I've meticulously made my grocery list for the week, requiring me to think on my feet and hopefully replace it with something else on the fly, hoping I'm not forgetting anything required to prepare it. (I usually do.)

I maneuver up and down the aisles, crossing things off my list (I put them in a general order of how the store is laid out since I go there so much) until I reach the end an inevitably I have forgotten something like almond milk which they recently MOVED to the healthy section of the store which is back by the produce, which I started with. (Did I mention I don't deal well with change?)

And WHY is everyone ALWAYS in my way, no matter which way I'm going or what aisle I'm on? Either they're going too slowly or they've stopped completely or they're standing in front of the ONE thing I need and simply cannot decide on which type of granola bar to buy. But nobody is ever behind me or in front of things I DON'T need. Is this on purpose? Why can't everyone just MOVE? Ugh.

Luckily the people that check me out at Kroger are kind of the best. They do it approximately 150% faster than I would at the self-checkout and usually don't care if one of my coupons is expired by a week.

All of this wouldn't be a problem if I could shop at Publix. Shopping IS a pleasure there, after all. No really, it is.

Walking in there is like walking into a nirvana of freshly-cut meat and colorful, organized produce. The people are happy and helpful but not pushy. The floors are clean. They have a bakery that looks trustworthy. They straight up give you some of the seasoning they use on their steaks just because they don't carry it in the store.

Sigh. No one is EVER in my way at Publix.

Too bad 1) we don't have one near our house and 2) we would officially be broke if I shopped there. Unfortunately you get what you pay for, I guess. And say what you will about Kroger but they send me coupons in the mail based on what I buy and some of them are just free money coupons like "save $5 on a $50 transaction." I mean, come on.

I have also recently discovered how glorious Whole Foods is. While people ARE in my way there, they have a "Grill" and gelato and BINS of things to make your own trail mix and organic produce as far as the eye can see.

I will make fun of kale-eating hipsters until the cows come home, but one step in there and I turn into "must…eat…organic…buckwheat….pancakes…"

We walked in there the other day and they just gave me a rose. It was like I was on the Bachelor and Whole Foods CHOSE me. It CHOSE me, okay? You hear that, broke married person budget? Just let me LIVE.

Sigh. One day we will be able to afford to buy organic buckwheat pancakes and make our own trail mix. That's the dream.

Until then…stop blocking the Kroger-brand sunchips, old man. I'm low on cash...and patience.

Do you envy other grocery stores? Which is your favorite?