It was my first grocery store experience in two months, after relying on deliveries and curbside pickups. Since writing two weeks ago about my grocery thoughts, I took the plunge.
I selected Trader Joe’s because I wanted specific foods that aren’t available anywhere else for the same taste and price — such as their cauliflower pizza crust, kale gnocchi, and oven-baked cheese bites.
Not wanting to linger in the aisles (because I didn’t know if it would be crowded, which it wasn’t), I wrote a list of items to buy. I organized my list by sections of the store. I brought my LAA mask and put it on when I exited the car.
I arrived at the store entrance around 12:30 in the afternoon. The employee standing outside the sliding door told me to grab a cart and go inside.
It was the same pre-pandemic store I remembered — but this time everyone wore a mask and the floor was marked up with one-way arrows and stand-here squares. If I didn’t know what to expect in advance, I’d be overwhelmed.
I was impressed there were employees everywhere stocking shelves. There were a handful of other customers but I occasionally had aisles to myself with no one else. I felt safe.
When I encountered my first fellow customer, she and her cart were in front of me. I didn’t know if I should excuse myself and go around her or wait. I waited. She saw me and lightheartedly said that I can go around her, adding that we’re both wearing masks. I smiled to myself and thanked her.
Everything on my list was in stock.
I headed to check out. Most of the registers were staffed and there were no lines. One person scanned the items and someone else bagged them. I small-talked with the cashier as I stood in a marked square, maintaining distance.
I wanted to experience using my new contactless Citi credit card. Some call it a “tap card.” Instead of swiping the magnetic strip or inserting the chip, I placed the card on the top of the machine and it “read” my card information. Neat.
As I headed out of the store and pushed the cart of bags toward my car in the 80-degree heat, I noticed a line of about a dozen people, spaced apart, waiting to go in. I grinned to myself that I lucked out without standing in line.
I think I’ll continue ordering delivery from large supermarkets and Costco warehouses for the time being, but for now I’m satisfied with the TJ’s experience.