Stronger Together / by Susie Lubell

Making shopping awesome since 2011.

Making shopping awesome since 2011.

I hate grocery shopping in Israel. I've lived here nearly five years and I thought it would get better and I guess it has a little. I don't feel intimidated to order cheese at the cheese counter. I understand grams. That part has definitely improved. But everything else still stinks. When I visit the US in the summer and I get to go to Trader Joe's, you know what I like the best about it, besides the way food is packaged such that it takes me half the time to cook meals, or how cheap the cereal is, or the fact that coconut water exists, or the pretty chalk drawings on the end caps, or the fresh flowers, or all the chocolate covered things you can buy (I would buy packaged fingernails if Trader Joe's dipped them in chocolate. Wow, a parenthetical INSIDE a run-on sentence. You're welcome Mrs. Fletcher, 9th grade English), or the fact that I can just take a cart without searching for a coin to use as a down payment for cart usage, which, by the way, is so dumb because if I wanted to own a shopping cart, then five or ten shekels is really not a deterrent...? What was I talking about? Yes, what I love about Trader Joe's. It's the CHECKOUT. 

I love that the checker places the food items on the conveyor belt and also bags my groceries. I LOVE THAT. I can't even describe to you the stress I feel while trying to load my groceries and then bag them while the checker has now moved on to the person behind me to the point where I erroneously end up with her anchovies and cat food. Wait, let me try to describe it. It's like a tiny vice on your eyeball. It's like taking your driver's exam in Burmese. It's like reading Danny and the Dinosaur to your son every night forever. It's just not fun. I'm bagging as fast as I can, and I know how to bag my friends. I worked at the Tustin Farmers Market for a year in high school! My brother worked there before me. I come from a long line of grocery baggers. But still, it's impossible to keep the pace. And some days are extra tense, like Thursdays before Shabbat when the place is PACKED and everyone is cooking for seven hundred of their closest family members. There just has to be a better way. 

In fact there is a better way. A few weeks ago I did an experiment. I was at Rami Levy, a popular super market chain in Israel, and it was a busy morning. I needed to pick up my kids from school soon, which adds an additional layer of checkout stress. The man in front of me was doing his best to load his items onto the belt, but it was slow going. So I say to him, "Why don't you start bagging your groceries and I'll put the rest of your stuff on the belt for you." Well he loved that idea and thanked me wholeheartedly. And you know what happened? Soon enough it was my turn. And then you know what happened next? The guy behind me says, "I got your groceries. You go bag." And so I did! It was beautiful! So smooth and simple. I thanked him as I was leaving and noticed the woman after him starting to put his groceries on the belt for him too. And so on and so on. It was a grocery revolution.

Now I try this trick every time I grocery shop and not only has it worked almost every time, it has made shopping so much less stressful and oddly more meaningful! One time there was a middle aged Russian woman who looked at me suspiciously as if to say, "Communism is dead, comrade." But otherwise everyone has happily pitched in. Because you know why? Life is better when we work together. We share the burden; shit gets done; we make a connection. We're stronger together. 

See what I did there? Little Hillary pitch I slipped in while you were enthralled by my story...
#strongertogether #imwithher #traderjoesforever