I was never a huge fan of grocery shopping, but it wasn’t the worst household chore. Sometimes (if the list included beer) it could even be fun. Sometimes I didn’t need a list and sometimes it was scribbled on the backsides of empty envelopes or written on my hand.

When I first started working at the grocery store, I started to find grocery lists charming. I thought there was a kind of beautiful simplicity about the grocery basics: milk, bread, eggs. My mind flashed back to classic Americana – very I Love Lucy –every time I found a handwritten shopping list someone dropped during their visit. I loved helping a lost husband translate his wife’s chicken scratch or decide what kind of cookie dough she was talking about. I started making more grocery lists myself – proper ones with legible handwriting.

Now that I’m six months into management training, the romance of grocery shopping is officially ruined.

I am incapable of scribbling down a simple, elegant grocery list. Now my list has to be itemized according to aisle and department. Then the aisles are listed in order of flow-of-traffic so I can get in and get out in one swift, well-crafted circle.

Forgot the eggs? Too bad, I’m not going back.

And it doesn’t stop there. The grocery list must now be very specific. Considering my huge 10% employee discount on “grocery store brand” items and whatever specials are going on, my items have to be listed according to brand names. Gone are the days when I  could glance down at my ill-crafted list, spot “peanut butter” and spend a good two minutes deciding whether or not I wanted to travel into the world of “chunky” or stay safe with “smooth.”

Color-blocking: Using like-colored items stocked in rows (be they vertical or horizontal) to create color striping that is pleasing to the customer’s eye. Think about it: you’ve never seen a pile of green apples, then red apples, then more green apples. It’s all red apples then all green apples then yellow, etc.

I reminisce about how many times I just reached up and grabbed what I wanted off the shelf without a second thought. Now I can’t pick up an item without pulling the one behind it to the very front (let’s not forget our “conditioning” lesson), not to mention straightening up the nearest three items while I’m at it. And this goes beyond the grocery store. I’ve caught myself straightening bottles and magazines while waiting at the gas station or leveling out a restaurant’s pile of kids menu crayons into neat, color-blocked sections.

It’s sick, really.

So restore my faith in grocery shopping and share with me what your quirky lists (or lack thereof) look like: is it a note in your Blackberry? A piece of paper torn from the side of class notes? The backside of receipts? Do you write it and hand it off to someone else? Either way, I hope your lists forever remain charmingly disorganized and significantly less anal than mine.

Trust me, you don’t want my hell.

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