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Less-Than-Special Deliveries

If you’re anything like me, you take every possible opportunity to eliminate those pesky domestic chores. And one of my least favorites, without a doubt, is making the schlep to the grocery store for provisions. I first professed my distaste for supermarket shopping more than three years ago in these pages, so you know I’m serious about it.

(I can change my mind on anything in three years; apparently, ‘food shopping’ is one of my more deep-seated rabid phobias. If only ‘Boston baked beans’ and ‘reality TV’ had been so well ingrained, I’d have been spared a lot of grief. And I’d probably still have my favorite pair of jeans.)

For a while, I convinced my wife to try online supermarkets. We’ve had several e-grocers available locally, Peapod and now-defunct Home Runs among them. For a few months, buying groceries online was the only method we used to get delicious goodies into the house.

It was, looking back, one of our more spectacularly-failing domestic experiments ever. Right up there with ‘Let’s Paint the Dining Room!’ (her idea), ‘Pants-Optional Sundays’ (mine), and ‘The Unfortunate Oatmeal Incident of 2002’.

“It was, looking back, one of our more spectacularly-failing domestic experiments ever. Right up there with ‘Let’s Paint the Dining Room!’ (her idea), ‘Pants-Optional Sundays’ (mine), and ‘The Unfortunate Oatmeal Incident of 2002’.”

First of all, online groceries are more expensive than their store-confined cousins. Which is perfectly reasonable — you’re paying for the convenience of the service. Unfortunately, we also seemed to be paying for the gas in the delivery truck, the mileage driven, the hosting costs for the website where we ordered, the online merchant fees, and the delivery driver’s kid’s college fund. At least with some of the places, tipping the drivers was ‘discouraged’. Not that it mattered; after a few sacks of groceries, we had nothing left to tip with. ‘Thanks, bud — here’s a hearty handshake and a baby carrot. Good job.

Then, there were the groceries themselves. My wife always suspected that it was the ‘low-end’ product being shipped out the back door of the store and into the trucks. She eyed every shipment for scuffed boxes, bruised fruit, and smooshed buns. I never saw much of that personally, but I don’t usually notice such things. If it’s edible, it’s fine for me. My food doesn’t have to look pretty; it just has to taste good and stay down. The missus is just a tad more discerning.

The bigger problem with the goods was that they often weren’t our goods. All the orders for one truck get lumped together in the back — and clearly separated, I’m certain. Then the driver chugs over a few miles of choice grade-A Boston potholes, and who the hell knows what’s what? There’re bags tipped over, pasta on the floor, mustard shot onto the ceiling — who can blame these guys for grabbing the right number of bags and hoping things work out?

Only, things don’t work out, most of the time. The crap we ordered goes somewhere else, and we end up with fourteen bags of somebody else’s slop we don’t want. Getting our shipments was like playing Iron Chef America: The Home Version:

And now, the secret ingredients! All of your meals for the next three weeks will be made from… a five-pound bag of all-purpose flour… three tubes of Crest toothpaste… and a jumbo-sized tub of stewed prunes! How luxurious!

So, we stopped ordering. I miss the service, though. When they did get it right — and we managed to order without taking out a home improvement loan to cover it — it was a pretty sweet deal. No crowded supermarket parking lots to deal with, or rusty-wheeled carts, or watching somebody’s grandma squeeze her peaches and thump her canteloupes.

(It’s like a train wreck! I don’t want to see it, but I can’t look away! Ack!)

Maybe someday we’ll try Peapod or one of the other services again. It takes a while to build up the courage, though. Maybe when you’ve spent a summer eating prune ‘n’ fluoride pancakes, you’ll understand.

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One Response to “Less-Than-Special Deliveries”

  1. kerry says:

    i’ve overcome my distaste for grocery shopping by going to the 24 hour stores. it’s much preferable to go at 2 am when no one is there. sure, you might have to stand in line behind 20 people because there’s only one cash register open, but somehow i’d prefer that to dealing with hordes of rude people meandering through the aisles getting in my way.

    i’m glad to hear the truth behind these online grocers. i don’t think we have any available around here, but i’d rather not receive 50 pound bags of dog food and bottles of hemorrhoid cream if we did.

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