by Thomas Greco, Publisher
It’s been quite a while since I found myself inside a supermarket. But since New Year’s Day fell on a Monday this year, I suggested to my wife that we barbecue some burgers and hot dogs since most restaurants would be closed. I even volunteered to go buy all the stuff we needed.
Now, I know I’ve written about grocery shopping in the past, but allow me to offer you a brief recap of my history. As a kid, I used to love to go to the store with my mom if only to look at all the candy in the checkout aisle. Back then, there were no candy sections like there are today. There were no bags of candy. The only place you could get candy was at check out, right below the latest TV Guides and National Enquirers.
I don’t know why, but even though we had two huge supermarkets in town, my mom frequented a smaller store, known as Foodarama. Man, did I love that store! I have a vivid memory of begging her to buy me a magazine preview of the first Joe Frazier-Muhammad Ali fight in 1971. I think that was the day I fell in love with boxing (and I’m one of the few dozen who still love it!). I treasured those Saturday afternoons with my mom.
Maybe that’s why I did a lot of the grocery shopping for the family when I got older. When I was single and then for the first few years of our marriage, I did all the grocery shopping late on Friday nights. I was an expert. I would get through my wife’s list and be back home in under an hour (half of which I spent in the candy aisles, drooling over the bags of candy). I don’t remember exactly when that stopped, but it was a long time ago. Not so much because I didn’t want to do it, but more so because she overruled me.
So back to New Year’s weekend. I only had a few things to get for the barbecue (it was only going to be me and her), so how difficult could it be?
First item on the list: hamburger rolls. Now I remembered from my old days that the bread was always in the last aisle in the rear of the store. I confidentially grabbed a shopping cart and headed there, and guess what? The bread aisle was now the frozen food aisle. Okay. I turned around, and luckily, the bakery was right there. But all they had were specialty rolls. Hey, I’m a Wonder Bread man from way back. I needed my Wonder Bread rolls. So I pranced around the store for about 10 minutes to no avail when I finally went up to a worker and asked where the hamburger rolls were. He gave it some thought, pointed towards the front of the store and said, “Down there.” Okay. I headed down aisle one. No bread. Aisle two. No bread. What the f#$k was this guy talking about?
I paused on the bread and went in search of red onions which were easy to find. Potato chips and chopped meat were also easy to find. I felt like I was on a roll. Speaking of rolls, I still couldn’t find my damn Wonder Bread! Before resuming my search, I went looking for Sabrett hot dogs. Now, logic tells you they would be by the meat section right? That’s certainly what I thought. Up and down I went. There was chopped meat, steaks, patties, every type of meat you could think of but no damn hot dogs. Exasperated, I called my wife.
“Hi, I can’t find the hot dogs or the rolls.”
“Oh, that’s easy. The hot dogs are by the meat, and the rolls are over there.”
“Um. No, they’re not.”
“Yes they are. Go look again.”
Back to the meat. Again up and down. Ribs, chicken, turkey…but no hot dogs.
“Siri, call Donna.”
“I can’t find them.”
“Oh wait, they are in one of those freezers across from the meat counter.”
There were about five of those freezers. In them, I found pigs in a blanket, hors d’oeuvres, bagel bites, etc. But no hot dogs.
“Siri, call Donna.”
“I am losing my patience.”
“I swear that’s where they are. Maybe they are out of them. Ask somebody.”
I asked another worker. He pointed to a freezer all the way back at the front of the store. And the rolls? “Aisle three.”
What do you know? He was right. I found my Sabretts right where he said they’d be. As for the rolls, it was the correct aisle, but sadly, there was no Wonder Bread to be found. I had to settle for the store brand.
After over an hour, I headed to the checkout. When I got there, I saw about a dozen unmanned checkout lanes and only self checkouts open. (How about that? No candy. No Frazier-Ali and no freaking cashiers!) Uh oh. I ALWAYS mess up on self checkout. But I dove in.
What I saw next was the most astonishing thing of the day.
Lays Potato Chips: $5.99
Hamburger Rolls: $4.49
Sabrett hot dogs: $12.79
Red onions: $4.99
Over $30 freaking bucks! (Next time you vote, do yourself a favor and bring your grocery receipts just to remind yourself what the current administrations are costing your day-to-day life.)
But it gets worse. Not only are prices out of this world, but living in this dumb blue state, I can’t even get a damn bag to carry these overpriced items to my car. Even though EVERYTHING I bought was packaged in PLASTIC!!!
So there I was, like a juggler in a circus, trying to carry a bunch of items to my car in the freezing cold without dropping one and getting run over by one of our state’s legendary courteous drivers.
Once I made it home, my wife quizzed me as if I was Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men.
“Did you find the hot dogs? Did you find the rolls? Did you get the onions? I can’t believe Shop Rite moved all those things.”
I knew she “couldn’t handle the truth,” but I bit my lip, took a deep breath and said:
“Me either. Too bad I was at Stop & Shop.”
Want more? Check out the February 2024 issue of New Jersey Automotive!