I gather from assorted newscasts that lots of people have lots of time on their hands as they shelter in place. So they’re bored and they take to drink or binge watch The Good Place on Netflix or obsessively play Sudoku and Solitaire on their smart phones. Well, personally, we don’t have all that much spare time at our house.
Take online grocery shopping, for instance. Our service proudly keeps a tab on how many hours our shoppers have saved us, according to them. These savings average about an hour per shopper per trip. But the time-saving bit is pretty much a crock. Here’s why I say that.
Now, I’m systematic about grocery shopping and always make a list on a notepad I keep in the kitchen. I’ll add a dozen eggs after my daughter has made an omelet for breakfast for dinner and a bunch of bananas when I’m down to one. And just before I head off to the store, something I haven’t done myself in more than a month, I quickly check the vegetable, fruit, and cheese drawers in the fridge to see what I’m short on, ditto the pantry and freezer. I confer with my daughter about anything she might need. So overall, I hardly notice the time it takes to create a grocery list.
But the thing about online shopping is that you have to transfer your list to the shopping app and that takes time because you have to say what replacements you’ll accept for an item they don’t have or if they should skip it altogether something like a specific brand of Neufchatel cheese for which you will accept no substitute because you’ve tried them and they’re just a little slimy. Yucko on the toast. And thanks so much, but nonfat cheese is even slimier. Double yucko on the toast. (If you’ve read any of my previous pieces on shopping, you know how picky I get when I shop.) My daughter usually handles putting the groceries on the app and texting back and forth with our shopper in the store, but I stay close by so she can ask me about the Neufchatel or whatever.
And another thing about time and online shopping . . . When your shopper is actually in the store and shopping, you have to go through the list again, explaining by text why you won’t accept a substitute for the hand soap you use because you have sensitive skin. (FYI: All those 20-second hand washes, even with my preferred soap, have wrinkled the backs of my hands and made them shiny too, so my skin looks like some kind of weird baklava.)
Also, I know the stores we order from better than most of the shoppers, so they get lost sometimes and need to text for directions for items like tortillas that I would go right to if I were shopping in person. So overall we spend as much time online at the store, or maybe more as we would if we were actually in the store and shopping. Plus, I miss the retail therapy and the pleasure of smelling the peaches to see if they’re really ripe.
And once the shoppers deliver my stuff, I have to process the perishables by spraying the packages of frozen foods with disinfectant, for instance, before I hustle them into the house and into the freezer or in the case of produce like apples and clementines giving them a bath in soapy water. This takes time, too.
But really the time required is beside the point and neither the shoppers’ fault nor the service’s either. It’s the pandemic and that insidious virus. And thanks to those shoppers going out into danger in my stead, I feel fairly safe from it. And I am better off than if I were out shopping on my own. So again, thanks is due to those who help me.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I want to go play Solitaire Go on my iPhone for thirty, forty minutes, maybe an hour . . .