There’s a trend in shopping I’ve not just accepted and embraced, I’ve become romantically involved with it.
Don’t tell my wife.
Much like washing dishes and flossing, I’ve always viewed shopping as a necessary evil and dealt with as such. This may, or may not, have involved pouting.
The word “shopping” is misleading in that it sounds like recreation, but there’s an underlying feeling of dread that comes with entering a building with the sole intention of leaving with less money than we walked in with. It’s like an old “Friday the 13th” movie if the teenage campers bled dollar bills.
That said, I don’t mind going to a store, I just don’t like going inside because stores are filled with people. As an introvert, I’ve been way ahead of the paranoia curve by actively avoiding human contact. When forced by survival instinct to leave the house for food, I’m faced with the following:
• Iowa drivers.
• Shelves bare of toilet paper.
• Something, at some point in our shopping experience, will smell bad. It’s often me.
• Small talk. It’s the most feared activity in an introvert’s day, ranking above rabid dogs and clowns in the terror category. I would have polled other introverts for this, but they wouldn’t open the door – and I didn’t knock.
But shopping doesn’t frighten me anymore.
Major grocery chains are actively attempting to keep shoppers from entering their stores. This is brilliant.
My wife and I now spend our first waking minutes on a Saturday clicking little boxes on her smartphone. These boxes represent things like milk, frozen pizza and toe fungus cream.
The founder of a particular discount store (this is not an advertisement, so I won’t identify it, but the prime color of this chain with 11,766 locations worldwide is blue and its name ends in “mart”) understood that when people needed groceries, they probably also needed hemorrhoid medication and a new hammer. Hopefully not all for the same reason.
The smartphone app then gives us the option to choose when we’ll visit the store to pick up our groceries and – this is the best – employees shop for us and deliver the goods to our car.
WE DON’T EVEN HAVE TO GET OUT OF OUR VEHICLE. This is absolutely the laziest thing we could do on a Saturday morning. How American is that?
No walking up and down aisles searching for a product the store may not even have. No cart with wonky wheels. No needing just one thing from the opposite side of the store. No exposure to whatever diseases human beings transmit to one another. No small talk. And, the best part, we don’t even have to change out of our pajamas. If only visiting the dentist were this easy.
I’ve seen the future, and it’s wearing a blue vest.
Jason Offutt lives in Maryville, Mo. His newest book, “Chasing American Monsters: 251 Creatures, Cryptids, and Hairy Beasts,” is available at jasonoffutt.com.