Saturday, August 20, 2011

Truman Show grocery store

My mate and I were driving to get some dinner and he's like "let's check out this new grocery store" so we take a right turn off the main road and follow this plaza drive which goes a bit before getting to an isolated parking lot for this one store, Aldis. It's very hard to see from the main road and the fact that it's set away and by itself was a bit strange. There are only a handful of grocery stores where I live and I know them all pretty well, so I was like.. where'd this new store come from? never heard of it.. weird. We go inside and as we enter we see a poster on the door advertising $23/hr manager position. The aisles are strangely minimalist and there are cardboard boxes everywhere with food in them. There's hardly anyone in the store... no one is at any of the cash registers. A man with a distant, isolated expression on his face pushes a floor cleaner around the store. Fruit is stacked on cardboard boxes. A container of grapes rests haphazardly and half opened. There's hardly anyone in the store (did I mention that already?) The few people there seem a little too ordinary and comfortable in this strange place. Are they really part of the same town? Are they even part of the same universe? I can't tell if I've entered into the future or the past. Even the attractive lady with nice legs seems to have a veil of doldrum about her. The prices seem really low. We go up to one of the referidgerator doors to get some milk and as I pull out a gallon of rBST free whole milk for only $3.19, I see a giant, unlit, cold, industrial and completely empty concrete room behind the minimalist milk shelf. Giant fans are blowing on the far wall facing me.

We get to the check out line and James notices there are no plastic bags. Only empty cardboard boxes near the entrance to the checkout line. We grab some and while I've always been in favor of reusing cardboard boxes to plastic bags, the whole setup feels very cheap. We start asking the checkout girl where the store came from. Apparently it's only been here since December. It's owned by Trader Joes but until recently was only in Germany. I mention that the store has a very temporary feel to it. The cashier gives me a quick look like I'm way out of bounds "temporary..." she odles. James asks if the managerial position is really $23/hr.
"That's just for training", she says. "It then goes up after that. Training is a year, tho."
I then ask if she thinks the store will be around very long. She's quick with her affirmative response: "Once we open a store, we never close it. We've been opening about two stores per week."

She gives us instructions on how to return our grocery carts. Give a quarter, get a quarter back.. or something. I didn't fully understand the process; was still trying to get my bearings on how we suddenly stepped into the Truman Show.... James isn't able to figure out how to chain up the grocery cart to the rest of the carts. I give it a try--clip in the dangling clip to the one in front, and we go back to my car, very bemused, but eager to get back to the real world.