Gathering Food, Gathering Storm

With news of the upcoming storm (Chicago is expected to get from 7″ – 10″ of snow, and up to 14″ in some areas), Liz and I decided it would be a good idea to stock up on some food before the weekend.

It was a thought that, apparently, everyone else in the neighborhood had as well.


On arriving at the store, there were no grocery carts. And no small baskets, either.

Lines at the checkout were nuts! Every checkout lane was open, and every line stretched back into the aisles. We got into the shortest one at the time, with our line extending back through the snack aisle.

I learned a few things, standing there in that slow-moving line.

Most people, though we were all waiting and impatient, were generally laughing and smiling about the entire situation. Everyone in line responded with laughter when they saw someone come around the corner and ask “Is this the line?

In my time in the snack aisle, I’ve become more familiar with the various snack-related offerings than I really care to be. Cinnamon pita chips, kale chips with a hint of truffle oil, a brand of crackers called Mary’s Gone Crackers.

Nestled in the middle shelf, between the Triscuits and Wheat Thins, were a few bottles of Cheez-Whiz. As we were inching along, I realized that right here, right now was the highest chance I’d purchase a can of Cheez-Whiz in the next five years.

After work, surrounded by snacks, getting a little hungry. If there was a time for Cheeze-Whiz… well, there would never be a more opportune time.

I’m happy to report that I did make it through the gauntlet of snacks without succombing to any impulse purchases. But I came close.


The lines really were all sorts of crazy. Where we were at, it stretched from the register pretty much all the way down the entire aisle to the other end of the store. I can only imagine that the other lanes were similarly full.

Standing in line, I realized once again how grossly, horribly inefficient normal store lines are. To have to wait for someone to manually scan each and every item is just nuts to me.

It was funny/painful to also remember that today was the same day Amazon announced free two-hour delivery from Whole Foods for Prime customers.

Nearing the actual register, I watched an older woman pay for her groceries in cash. And she spent a lot of time counting out the exact change in coins. When she ended up being about $1.05 short and she counted that out in coins as well.

I mention this not to bad mouth the woman (cash is a valid, albeit slow, form of payment). It’s just that the whole process was just so woefully inefficient. As a developer, it’s darn near physically painful.

I guess the takeaway for me should be that, for the most part, everyone else was in generally good spirits. Folks in line, joking with one another – shaking their heads at the whole situation. As Liz mentioned to me while we were in line: there’s nothing that brings a group of people together like a shared hardship.

Related:
The Final Days of Strack & Van Til on Elston Avenue, Logan Square
Amazon Go: Grocery Store with No Checkout Lines
Sudden Showers Inside Treasure Island Supermarket
Using Instacart for the First Time

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