Whose genius idea was it to completely upend and revamp Stop & Shop? In the middle of a pandemic? And an election campaign that refuses to quit? And a financial meltdown? And remote schooling? And a social gathering nix-athon?
I’ve been hiding out here in Madison since March 7. I stay in my house or venture out into my garden or maybe take a bike ride or walk to the mailbox and chat with neighbors who stay on their side of the street while I stay on mine.
That’s it. Other than going to Stop & Shop where I mask up and dart inside and check off my list as fast as I can.
Only fast just went out the window with the current re-org at Stop & Shop. The “organic” section is strewn all over the store. The garbanzo beans sharing an aisle with Barbie dolls?!? Worse, the organic produce is seeded in among the “conventional” produce so that’s it’s no longer possible to quickly suss out what I feel like adding to the menu. No, I have to walk through miles of aisles and read every forking label and try not to take it out on the poor beleaguered staff who are quick to tell me that they don’t like it either.
It was one thing to make all the aisles one-way. We all get it — COVID. But this — not knowing where anything is - is driving them nuts. They’re actually carrying around maps — that change every day. They’re losing it.
And they’re not alone. The customers are livid. I have never heard so much cursing – not even in Times Square right before curtain time. You turn down an aisle and see an otherwise respectable Yankee staring at the goods in front of him and cursing. Cursing! In Stop & Shop!
Because we’ve all had it.
It’s just too much.
I think it’s because we were all hanging on by our fingernails, waiting for the election. And then the election came and went and by Friday had wrung us all out. And even though it’s over, it’s still not over. We still have to focus on it.
I don’t wanna focus on it anymore.
I want it to go back to the way it was before. Say in 2014. Quiet. Non-eventful. Handled.
I want boring! Who’s with me?!
And yes, I know, it’ll change. I have the benefit of perspective. I’ve lived through crises and cluster-forks. (And thank you, Eleanor Shellstrop — or should I say, Michael Schur of “The Good Place” — for enabling my ability to communicate clearly in public.)
Because this, my friends, is a cluster-fork of the first order and I don’t just mean the disaster that is Stop & Shop.
Drug and alcohol use is up. Suicide is up. Domestic violence is up.
The only bad thing that’s down is school shootings because, hello, we can’t send the kids to school on a regular basis.
The other day I overheard a stressed out mother asking another mom how to cope with a teacher who, after surveying her child’s room on Zoom, told the kid that no, it’s not necessary to pick up those dirty clothes or take a dirty plate to the kitchen. The mom was ready to go for the knives and I was right there with her.
And now the COVID numbers are rising. And unemployment is running out.
And my grocery store is working my last nerve.
Because the owners – in answer to my first question (see “who’s genius idea was it to completely upend and revamp Stop & Shop) – decided to change things.
Who are the owners, you ask? Let’s just say Stop & Shop is owned by a Dutch firm.
Now the Dutch, in my limited experience, are incredibly intelligent and have a long history of innovation, discovery and artistic accomplishment. But they’re not a particularly empathetic lot. Not cheerful, the Dutch. Too pragmatic.
I can just see them, sitting there in Amsterdam, grim and determined, and all too ready to pile on. Why not? They have to put up with 360 days of rain every year. Why shouldn’t we have to put up with a total upending of the only comfort any of us have known in nine months. Our last haven. Something that tells us that someone is actually in charge. That all will be well. That the organic leeks will continue to live next to the organic cabbage. That our future will look like our past, not like our present, at least as far as the day to day goes.
Because I’m not averse to change. As I said, I’ve lived long enough to know that this too shall pass. And I expect all of us to learn something from it. For great discoveries to be made. For new technologies to take off and great novels to be written and all kinds of insights to power us on to a brighter future full of brand new ideas.
But not now, Stop & Shop. Now we need comfort and order and the illusion that someone is actually in charge of at least one teeny tiny part of life.
Because I’m done! Uncle! Or as one of my neighbors declared in a sign that spread from one end of her porch to the other, “Make It Stop!”
So I’m just asking, Stop & Shop. Can you please give us one little thing we can rely on? Please?