The Perfect Grocery Hour

There are times when I feel like my hunt for a good time to go grocery shopping is like hunting a mythological creature. You are certain it exists (why hunt for it, if you’re unsure?) because of the experiences of others or because you’re certain you once saw it yourself. You try to find patterns in its appearance, but the moment you think you’ve nabbed it, it slips from your grasp. Science and logic and reason are no use, largely proven useless by their failure to produce results but still tools you rely on since you tried randomly searching and that didn’t help either. And then, just when you’re ready to give up, to pack it in and join the group that claims it doesn’t exist at all, something happens to renew your certainty.

I’ve gone shopping every weekday evening, at times ranging from 4pm to 10pm. I’ve gone at just about every hour on the weekends. I’ve even tried waiting around to see if, like a rain storm, things will clear up if I just wait for a bit. While I’ve gotten lucky and enjoyed some quiet grocery trips throughout all my attemtps to find the optimal pandemic shopping time, they’ve never been at the same time. I went at 10 pm on Decemeber 23rd and enjoyed an almost empty store (though the benefits were mostly lost since they crowded all the shoppers into the self-checkout lanes, including the people who typically avoid them because they will find every software bug that exists in those machines any time they walk within 10 feet of one). I went shopping at 10pm a week later and it was so crowded they had to actually open checkout lanes staffed by real human people.

At one point, back when I wasn’t working Fridays because I didn’t need the overtime, I used to go grocery shopping at 10am. I enjoyed a few weeks of relatively quiet shopping in a row. Not quite as empty as I would have liked, but still fairly empty. Defintely not busy. Then it started to get crowded as more people seemed to realize that 10am was a good time to shop. I shifted later and later as the crowds changed, ran into the afternoon crowd, tried the mornings again, and then resigned myself to shopping when it was a convenient time but annoyingly crowded (I mitigated this by going weekly so I had less to buy at once). Now, after almost 2 weeks of not getting all my groceries (my late Decemeber trip was for a small list of essentials only), I am going on a Tuesday night in hopes of this random day being relatively empty. And because I’m pretty much out of food other than soup and noodles. Which make for a fine dinner, don’t get me wrong, but I’m getting tired of it.

I’ve spoken with friends about their experiences, and most have given up on finding a quiet, safe time to go grocery shopping. Which is fair, I suppose. It is a lot of work, kind of exhausting, and I have many other things I’d rather do with my time than find a way to push myself to go grocery shopping after a long day at work (and they’re all long days, of late). I wouldn’t blame myself for not going grocery shopping at a time like this (and don’t even blame myself for letting things get this bad. The past few weeks have been so busy), but my desire for something other than broth and noodles has finally overcome my exhaustion. Come hell or high water (or horrible, long, stressful days at work), I will be going out for a full grocery run.

I think I might make an offering to Artemis or something. It has just as much a chance of working as everything else I’ve tried.

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