Shopping In the Modern World

grocery store

We live in a land of plenty. Sometimes too plenty.

Our ancestors would be amazed at how easy we have it. Instead of milking a cow, we pick a carton off a refrigerated shelf.  Instead of beating our clothes against rocks in the river, we throw them into a machine and come back forty-five minutes later.  Instead of hitching the horses to the wagon, we fire up the horsepower with the turn of a key.

I’m grateful for all this, even if I take it for granted 99.9% of the time. But I have to wonder if in the pursuit of convenience we’ve all gone a little insane.

Let’s start with the milk. I said it’s as easy as going to the store and picking up a carton, but can you imagine sending out our aforementioned ancestor with that task?  He would scan the shelves and see whole milk, skim milk, 1% milk, and 2% milk.  Then he would have to decide if he wanted antibiotic-free (good luck explaining that), or organic (ditto) milk.  And that’s just the cow’s milk.  There’s also soy milk, almond milk, lactose-free milk, all in a variety of flavors.

I’m exhausted just writing about it.

Same thing with the laundry. Sure, you just throw the clothes into a machine, but what kind of soap are you going to use?  Powder, liquid, or little plastic packets?  Bleach?  Fabric softener?  Fabric strengthener?  You’ve got an entire aisle in the store dedicated to dozens of brands of each.  And of course, you’ve got to pick a scent:  Lavender Dream, Mountain Fresh, Botanical Rain Storm.  That is of course, unless you are allergic or sensitive to scents, then you can get Free and Gentle, Allergy Free, or Scent Free.

And cars? Don’t even get me started.

A person can be forgiven for walking up and down the aisle of their grocery store and grabbing the same brand of toothpaste, mustard, and shampoo week after week. If I tried to evaluate the features, scents, taste, and price of every product I needed, I’d be in the store for hours.

It’s a workable system, and one we could give to our hypothetical ancestor. We’d give him pictures on his smartphone—actually, better just print those out—of all the products we wanted.



Every shopper’s nightmare: the packaging change!

Now, instead of my minty fresh cool gel toothpaste coming in a red box with blue writing in the bottom left corner, all the boxes are yellow!

Why do they do this to me?

All I’m trying to do is buy is what I already have and love at home. Now I’m stuck reading all the fine print—does my toothpaste at home fight cavities and tartar?  Yes, I think so.  Is it whitening?  Not sure.  Fresh breath?  Definitely.  Or wait…is it fresh breath or peppermint?

It’s definitely a gel. Although, this box says “liquid gel.”  Is that the same as regular gel?  Is all gel liquid gel?

All I want is clean teeth. Is that too much to ask?

Here in the land of plenty, you can have anything you want. Exactly what you want.

Provided you can figure out what the heck it is you want.


3 thoughts on “Shopping In the Modern World

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