The worst part of shopping, I feel, is putting away the groceries.
I’m not going to complain about actually buying the groceries. Walking around a brightly-lit room like a king and selecting objects off shelves -- that’s not a big deal. I mean, the paying part isn’t great -- finding out how much you owe in total and how all that selecting like a king added up a lot quicker than I thought – but I usually pay with a credit card anyway. So I don’t feel it at the time.
What does take the wind out of my sails is when I get all excited that I’m home, my shopping trip is done, and I can get back to—Oh, wait, now I have to put away the groceries.
It’s a pain. I’m sure you feel that way too. This is after you take all the items out of the cart and put them on the belt, put all the items back in the cart in bags, put all the bags in the car, drive home with them rolling around the car, and bring them all into the house. By the time they’re in the house, you’re so sick of these farshtinkener groceries you no longer know why you took such great pleasure in putting them in the cart in the first place.
And you have to put them away that day. This can’t be tomorrow’s project. You can say, “Well, I just have to put away the stuff that goes in the fridge,” but the guy at the store does not pack the grocery bags by saying, “Let’s put everything that goes in the fridge in the same bag!” So you just know that if you let the rest of the groceries sit out, you’re definitely going to find a warm cottage cheese the next day.
Baruch Hashem, I have kids.
This is not why I have kids. The fact that I have kids is unrelated hashgachah pratis. But not as much as you’d think.
First I honk the horn and all the neighbors look out the windows to find out what I’m announcing and whether it’s for them. I mean, they can help bring in the groceries if they want. Just throw on some ill-fitting shoes and come join us. That’s what my kids are wearing. Not a single one of them is wearing his or her own shoes. They’re all wearing whatever shoes they happened to find near the front door.
Why does nobody in this house wear shoes? I go to buy groceries, and suddenly everyone throws out their footwear?
But I have to honk. If I just come home and don’t honk, no one will run out to help. They will claim they had no idea I was home until I walk up to the front door with all of the groceries in one trip and knock with my forehead.
But even once you carry everything into the house -- all carried stiffly and in a rush as grocery bags are splitting open and items are rolling all over the place -- it’s still not as much of a pain as putting it away.
First you have to stand in front of the closets and find out which of the items you bought don’t fit where they’re supposed to go because you already have some in the closet.
Then why did I buy more?!
Then you have to sit down and make room in the fridge. You’d think that if you needed groceries so badly, there would be a lot of room in the fridge, but there is not. At best, you still have to take everything out of the fridge and put the new groceries in the back. If the fridge is too full of groceries no one’s eating, it’s probably because you didn’t do this the last time.
And why is everything round? Every container, every fruit…
Produce in particular takes up a ton of room. A bell pepper, for example, is said to be 94% water, and that makes no sense, because you know for a fact that it’s also 94% air. Should we just mulch everything up before putting it away?
Point is, by the time you get to the freezer items, things are just crammed into the front. You have no idea what’s in your freezer. You just know that things keep sliding out and landing on your feet. This is why no one wants to spend a long time standing in front of the freezer and rearranging stuff. As well as the benefit of those refrigerators with the freezer on bottom.
And where did everybody go?! Where are my helpers?!
It occurs to you at some point that your family doesn’t want to help put away the groceries; they just wanted to see what you bought. They’re perfectly happy wandering away and leaving them on the counter.
Maybe none of my bare-footed kids wants to be asked to rearrange the freezer.
But the truth is that even without them putting stuff away, you actually do need the kids to see what you bought. Well, more accurately, half the groceries you don’t want the kids to know about, and half of it you want them to know about. The last thing I want is for my kids to walk up to me later and say that there’s no food in the house -- which, as I’ve said, there always is -- just because they did not personally witness all the food that just came in. I do not need this, after putting all the groceries away myself that I bought myself with my money during a time that I could have been making more money to buy more groceries that you’re going to ignore to tell me you’re hungry. And then I should reward you by telling you where to find the new food?
I also specifically ask my wife to help me put away the groceries. And she doesn’t understand why I need her. The perception in the house is that I’m being lazy. I wasn’t home for the last hour. I’m finally home and I can’t do anything myself?
But I don’t need to put away the groceries. I already know what I bought. Everyone else needs to know.
I’m not even sure why I want to get the kids to put it away so badly. Because they do it badly. Kids, left to their own devices, will just leave the items in the pantry in the grocery bags so you can’t see what anything is ever. That way, they can get back to their own devices.
And our big pantry is in the basement, so if our kids are putting the food away, I’m not checking it afterward to see if the food is findable, and they don’t ever go down to look for the food because none of it’s findable.
And I’m not going down to see if it’s findable because I bump my head every time I go down to the basement, I spend way more time than I budgeted rearranging things, and then I come up with twice as much food as I need, because to me it’s like going to the supermarket. I disappear down there for a half hour, and everyone’s asking, “Where’s Totty? Did he leave? He didn’t say anything… Hey, he’s back! With groceries!” I should actually leave the house through the basement door and then come back in the front door with the groceries. They’re still in bags anyway. Have the kids get all excited so they can bring them back down and try again.
I don’t have these issues with any other kind of shopping. I come home from other stores, and I’m excited to open up my purchases and try them out and admire how they fit in their new location. I never come home from the clothing store and say, “Great; now I have to put all this clothing away.” But I guess there’s no other store from which I come home with as many items at once. There’s no other store where there’s a question of how many times I have to come in from the car with the items I bought.
I would just stop this whole putting-away process if I could. But I can’t. Yes, some people order their groceries remotely and get them delivered, but guess what! This is the one step they still have to do!
The only thing I can think of for us to maybe make this easier is to figure out how to arrange for more refrigerators and closet shelves. Not in the basement, of course. Somewhere else. Maybe hire someone whose job it is to organize all the foods. Also, to avoid the issue of the food your family doesn’t want to eat going bad, maybe this new storage should be a shared area, where you and several other families can just go and get the food you want. Of course, this only works financially if you don’t have to lay out the money for all that food – just the food you personally are taking in the end. Someone else lays out the money, and then you can just come in and get the stuff you want, when you want it. Or go less often and get enough for a whole week, let’s say. I think that would be a pretty good ide—wait.