Every grocery store attracts a different segment of the population.
Whole Foods: Upper middle class or outright rich people, health conscious, status conscious, does not mind burning piles of money on apples that cost 7.99 a pound.
Stop and Shop: Feels like they don't speak enough foreign languages to shop at Whole Foods, is willing to spend too much on groceries that are merely average, enjoys the self scanner guns so they can avoid talking to chronically depressed cashiers.
Trader Joe's: Young and hip. Would like to shop at Whole Foods but their jobs as massage therapists and chakra cleaners prevent them from this. They enjoy the free samples, great music and overall festive mood.
Market Basket: Zombies, drones, cheap housewives, competitive coupon clippers and the entire elderly population of New England.
I have been all of these people over the past decade (except elderly!), but now I am a Market Basket drone. I begin to feel the joy fleeing my soul as I start the car and begin my journey. Once there, I move through the crowded aisles, jostling for 6.99 a case K-cups (7.99 at Stop and Shop, not carried at Trader Joe's, not free range enough for Whole Foods). I have been verbally abused twice at Market Basket. Once a man told me that I should be ashamed of myself because I did not put my cart away properly. My point is that at the Market Basket I can get apples for .99 a pound, but I need to bleed for the privilege.
This morning I told my visiting mother-in-law Ellen that I needed to go to the Market Basket to pick up Lily's birthday cake. She asked to come along. I tried to talk her out of it.
"It's horrible. It's crowded and miserable and I can't imagine anyone going there who didn't actually have to go." I said
She came anyway. Lily came too since it was her cake and she wanted to be the first to see it.
I walked into the store and braced myself for the wave of despair. Instead, where there should have been a big pile of misery, there was a huge pirate! A pirate! Giving away Pirate Booty! We chatted with the friendly pirate and received four (!) packages of free Pirate Booty.
I thought for sure that the cheerfulness we experienced with the Pirate was an aberration. After all, he is not a Market Basket employee. He does not know that gloom is part of the dress code.
We next went to the bakery and the lady at the bakery counter asked Lily if she would like some cookies. As the kind lady gave Lily three (!) free cookies I began to suspect that I had wandered into the twilight zone. This was not my Market Basket. Where were the cranky people? Why was no one berating me for taking too long selecting green beans (.89 a pound)?
My mother in law found some inexpensive and delicious sushi- such delights at the Market Basket! Such a bargain and so wonderful! Finally, as we were checking out, the cashier asked Lily if it was her birthday and wished her a very happy birthday.
The Market Basket made a liar of out of me today. Whether it was a grocery miracle or the universe laughing at me I may never know. I am merely grateful for the opportunity to achieve grocery nirvana with the most unlikely of candidates.