For the past three years, I have been asking my husband—and almost anyone else who would listen—why no one had created a drive-through grocery service.
You see, once you have children to unbuckle and coax into the cart and placate and discipline and talk out of the cookies and bribe with popsicles and then re-buckle in the car, you realize you could be perfectly content never to enter a grocery store again.
Yes, I know you can have groceries delivered. But every time I’ve looked into it, it seems that you have to plan your meals days ahead of time, and you either have to be home to get your food or trust that it will still be there, nicely chilled, on your porch when you get home. Call me disorganized or narrow-minded or both. It just doesn’t appeal to me.
What I want is to be writing at the office, think of an idea for dinner, send my request over the Internet, and pick the food up on our way home—without unloading my sons from the car. It’s so obviously a good idea, but I have never been able to find a way to do it.
I stopped by a ShopRite one day last week and noticed signs advertising a “shop from home” concept. When I looked online, I learned that I needed to place my order at least four hours in advance, pull into a designated parking spot, wait for an employee, hand over a credit card, and the groceries would be placed in my car.
The catch? There’s a $10 fee.
Now, even though I have—not unfairly—been called cheap, that sounded like money well-spent to me. And what better time to try out this service than the day when the whole Mid-Atlantic region is at the grocery store preparing for Frankenstorm? So I signed up, placed my order, and scheduled my pick-up for yesterday afternoon.
A few hours later I went to get the boys from preschool.
“Wait until you hear about this crazy thing I’ve done!” I told them.
“What is it, Mama?” Leo asked.
“I ordered our groceries on the computer. We’re going to go pick them up, and we won’t have to get out of the car!”
“But what’s the crazy thing, Mama?” Leo asked.
Clearly he didn’t share my excitement.
Then we got to the store and Daniel saw a shopping cart that looked like a taxi. He desperately wanted to get out and ride in it.
“We’re not going inside today,” I told him. “We don’t have to go in at all. Isn’t that great?”
We pulled into a parking spot right out front, and a woman came out to greet us. We were a half-hour early, but she had our order ready. She took my credit card, returned within 10 minutes, and loaded our car.
“The only thing was the watermelon,” she told me. “We didn’t have one that was good enough.”
I couldn’t argue with that. I don’t even know a good watermelon without tasting it. She even threw in a package of chocolate chip cookies.
At home I noticed that we had only bought what we needed. In fact, I bought absolutely nothing fun at all—unless you count the organic apples. So I suspect we saved more than $10 by not going inside.
As I was congratulating myself on this amazing discovery, I found only one discrepancy—and I had marked on my order that substitutions were fine, so I blame myself. We ended up with canned mushrooms instead of fresh. That wouldn’t normally be a problem, but my family has been asking for fondue, and we need fresh ones.
So John offered to run to a different store this morning.
He could find only one cart available, and it was attached to a large, red, plastic truck. If you’ve ever used one, you know those carts are almost as easy to maneuver as the Millennium Falcon.
John fought the crowds to pick out a dozen items from around the store. Then he stopped to grab one last item—a carton of orange juice. He turned around, and his cart was nowhere in sight. It had been replaced with a cart full of yogurt and pickles.
He gave up in despair and left the store empty-handed, discouraged, and convinced that people are losing their sanity over the storm.
“Baba, maybe people be mean,” Daniel said.
Oh, dear. And just yesterday our 2-year-old and his family were feeling so good about humanity.
Fortunately, I know just the cure for that.
It’s called drive-through grocery shopping. I can almost guarantee that—as long as this storm doesn’t coincide with the end of the world—you’ll see us sitting outside ShopRite again next week.
I can hardly wait.