Who is Kenny? He’s someone I don’t know very well, but I will tell you that he makes me smile every time I see him.

You see, I am one of those rare grocery shoppers that makes a weekly meal plan, a corresponding grocery list and a weekly trek to the store (this usually occurs on a Saturday or Sunday). I want to get it done all in one trip and never go back (well, until the next weekend). I really hate grocery shopping – as much as I hate cleaning the bathrooms.

I described myself as a rare grocery shopper because I don’t usually see many others in the grocery store filling their carts to overflowing and then, watching their baggers navigate two carts across the parking lot. I feel like a rare breed. One time, a fellow shopper asked me if we were having a party and I said, “Nope. This is my normal weekly grocery trip.” She looked horrified (really, I’m not kidding). I wasn’t sure how to respond to that so I didn’t. We just waited in uncomfortable silence in the checkout line until my groceries were bagged and ready for transport.

So, you’re still saying, “Who’s Kenny? And, what does this have to do with food?” Kenny is my grocery bagger. Okay, he’s not really MY bagger, but the poor thing is usually the lucky duck that ends up bagging the seemingly endless stream of food that I buy.

I want to say that while bagging groceries isn’t rocket science, it’s still a science of sorts. Not everyone is good at it. You have to have good spatial skills. There are definitely great ones (fast, efficient use of bags, perfect food placement within the bags and smash-free bread & chips), good ones (somewhat fast and efficient, okay food placement within the bags and smash-free bread & chips) and bad ones (slow, wasteful with bags and smashes your bread & chips). When picking out my checkout lane, I’m not looking for the shortest lane, I’m looking for a good to great grocery bagger. Since I shop at this store every week, I know who’s who and what’s what.

Kenny makes the trip worthwhile. Besides being a fantastic bagger, he is always happy, always has a smile on his face and always has really nice things to say. For example, he often asks about my kids and when I tell him their ages, he always responds with, “Wow! You look too young to have kids in high school!” (Thank you, Kenny!)

Kenny is probably in his early 50s and I think has been working at my local O’Malia’s for about 25 years (give or take a few years). In making small talk out to the car, he will be the first to tell you that he was hit by a car when he was a toddler (2 or 3) and suffered a brain injury in that accident. He loves skiing with his aunt in Colorado because they have a great skiing program for the disabled. He also has a sister in Dallas whom he visits at least once a year (from what I have gathered). His sister has three or four kids and he LOVES them tremendously. He talks about them as if they were his own.

I really admire him – his outlook on life is wonderful despite the cards dealt to him and he seems to find the joy in the moment.

I strive to mimic his perspective and his ability to live in the now.

He always ends the visit with a “Thank you for shopping at O’Malias!”

I hope that Kenny’s coworkers see what I see and take away something positive after a Kenny-encounter. I know I do.

The Closing of a Grocery Store



Okay, so a grocery store is closing March 26th.  So What!?  Well, the store I’m talking about is my local Joe O’Malia’s .  This is the store of my choosing where I do my weekly grocery ritual.  The thing you need to know about me is that I really HATE grocery shopping, but I do it because, well, we need to eat to live.

Well, I walked into my local Joe O’Malia’s today to do my weekly ritual and guess what?!  I saw a sign on the door informing me that my store will be closing forever and that the last day would be March 26th!  The store located at 126th Street and Gray Road would be more than happy to help me after March 26th. What?  I wasn’t quite sure I understood.  What is that sign trying to tell me?

Thus, began my whirlwind flight through the 5 Stages of Grief

Denial:  I was in total denial.  I stopped, stared and re-read the sign.  Surely, they were announcing that they were just going to be closed on that ONE day, March 26th.  Of course, Whew! And, then they would be available to me again on the 27th.  Right?  So, thinking that all was right with the world, I continued on my way.

Anger:  Well, the state of denial lasted about 30 seconds and quickly turned to disbelief and anger as I walked the familiar walk toward the produce section.  Where had all the produce gone?  Where were the potatoes? avocados? asparagus?  I started hyper-ventilating.  Okay, calm down.  They were re-vamping the place and it was in a state of remodel.  Yep, that had to be it.  Well, it became increasingly clear as I walked toward the meat counter that the sign might be true (there were about 3 pork chops left).  The store was closing.  This stage of grief lasted the entire shopping trip (which was very short, BTW).  As I was headed toward the next phase of the grieving process, I started to get really angry again when I realized that I was going to have to go to another grocery store today to finish my shopping!

Bargaining:  Well, who could I bargain with?  The devil?  That was unlikely.  I really didn’t hang out in this phase of the grieving process.

Depression:  I am languishing in this phase.  I am depressed.  I had finally found a store that wasn’t HUGE , that special ordered items for me, where I knew the meat guys, the deli guys, etc.  I had the store layout memorized and that was how my shopping list was organized (I know, crazy, right? See first post).  It made the shopping trip go faster (remember, I HATE to go grocery shopping!).  The store was within walking and biking distance from my house.  If we forgot something, no problem!  Just run over to O’Malia’s!  Well, now where am I going to grocery shop?  All of the other stores near my house are the HUGE stores that are not personal and don’t take your groceries out to your car.  I’m going to have to memorize another layout!  I’m almost 45 for goodness sake – how can I be expected to do that!?  I’m too old and too busy!

Acceptance:  I’m not quite at this stage yet.  My husband is trying to fix it for me (as husbands usually do) and suggested that I go to the only remaining O’Malia’s left in Carmel.  I honestly try to go to the store only once a week and thus, my weekly shopping trips are meticulously planned and take awhile.  I do this to try to save money.  I used to go the to store almost every day due to lack of planning and would end up spending way too much on food that would ultimately spoil and go bad.  Since I now do one big weekly trip, my husband is encouraging me to travel across town to go to last remaining neighborhood grocery store.  I may just do that starting next week, but I have to mull it over.  I haven’t completely graduated to the acceptance phase.  Maybe “they” will realize that I would really like this store to stay open. . . . .