Wednesday, November 21, 2007

If you must go to the grocery store the day before Thanksgiving . . .

. . . I do hope you have a Trader Joe's nearby.

Our family once again dropped the ball on Thanksgiving plans. Responsible folks put in their farm-fresh turkey orders weeks ago and shopped the root veggie sales last week. We planned our meal last night over soup.

We're not big turkey fans and it's just going to be us this year. Eric wants a meal that feels seasonal and authentic so we're having rabbit. I've never had rabbit before. I'll be sure to let you know how it goes.

Anyway, the rabbit will be procured elsewhere but the rest of the shopping had to be done. The day before Thanksgiving. With two children. Who were tired. I didn't want to go. I figured the store would be full of frantic shoppers all of whom would be pestering the overworked, harried employees for items they can't find because they are planning overly ambitious dishes that they make once a year, at best.

I was partly right. I usually shop on Saturday mornings and the store was MUCH more crowded today. There were a lot of husbands there, and several college kids with mom. For some reason college kids think that if classes aren't in session it's okay to appear at the grocery store in your slippers. I helped one bewildered husband locate sundried tomatoes. I was feeling magnanimous because the employee-customer ratio at Trader Joe's was about 1:2. They were all busy restocking pumpkins, highlighting their favorite wines and moving people through the checkout lines. And they were all happy. One girl, sporting a sunflower headband, offered us all biscotti and then scurried off the to the back room to find me hazelnuts. They didn't have any but I didn't even care because I can't remember the last time I got such prompt service at a grocery store.

My sleepy little boy was an angel and patiently waited through the entire shopping trip to sweetly and politely ask the clerk for a balloon. She obliged--how could she deny such a polite request from a three-year-old? When I commented on the cheerful mood at the packed store she suggested that maybe things wouldn't be so nice for the evening crew. No worries, there. I noticed at the sample table that champagne tasting is on the menu at the store this afternoon. Do you think that's for the customers or the employees?

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