Tuesday, February 24, 2015

When your superpower tries to kill you

Tonight I had a breakthrough at the grocery store. Okay, well, it wasn't exactly as dramatic as a breakthrough, but I learned something new about myself. I'm almost 38, so learning something new about myself is pretty significant. I've been around a long time.

I am organized. I've cultivated this gift my whole life. When something is complicated and detailed, I can't wait to get my hands on it and get into an Excel spreadsheet. In fact, I've commented that if I can't make it make sense using Excel, then it's likely not a solvable problem, and I wasn't kidding. It's like a superpower.

My current job has me working through several detailed processes, and my current project is ordering every piece of furniture for an entire elementary school. It's fantastic. I methodically review every detail and submit changes in the form of - surprise! - an Excel spreadsheet. (This is my organizational method rather than the furniture vendor's, but I'm certain that he's impressed and thinks I'm brilliant and the world's very best school furniture customer ever in history. That's what Excel can do. Organization is powerful stuff, man.)  My first round of changes was approximately 307 line item additions and deletions, itemized by construction room number and room name, and with detailed explanations of the products in question. It was a thing of freaking beauty. For real.

Now to the grocery store.

As long as I can remember, I have loaded my groceries onto the checkout conveyor the same way.
1. Cold items first. I have a giant insulated bag that I want them to go in, so it seems easiest to put them first so the bagger can put them directly in that bag.
2. Boxy/canned type things next. They are durable and aren't damaged if you bang them around a bit.
3. Gatorade and paper towels, etc. These things are also not damageable. I can fit 2-3 six packs of Gatorade in one reusable shopping bag.   Yes, I want them in a bag. That's why I brought all of these bags. Because I want my groceries to go in them. Grrr...
4. Fruits and vegetables next. I don't want them smushed. Also, I don't use the plastic bags in the produce section because it seems silly to bring reusable shopping bags and then fill them with small plastic bags. I can place the apples together, limes together, etc., to help the checker.
5.  Breads, chips, etc. I really hate when my bread is smushed. It makes me angry. Raises my blood pressure. Makes me sweat. I place bread products carefully last on the conveyor so that the other items don't get pressed into them at the other end.

Going grocery shopping stresses me out more and more each week, mostly because of the check out situation. Just the thought of going to the store makes me anxious, maybe takes years off my life. I have a system, and I'm doing my part. It never, never, never, never goes according to my plan. Sometimes an employee comes over to help me unload my cart, and it sends my blood pressure racing because they don't do it in order. Often I angrily bag the Gatorade and paper towels myself when I get to the car, using one of the many extra bags that the grocery store folks left unfilled while placing several random items in my cart all alone...some Gatorade here...some toilet paper there... Sometimes the bread bag makes it in the cart ahead of the cans bag, so I fluff up the bread and rearrange those items to minimize damage on the drive home. Top heavy bags also must be reorganized so they don't topple over. Basically, I re-bag most of my groceries in the parking lot. This is totally normal, right?

Today's kind-of-but-not-really breakthrough came when I made a choice to haphazardly place my groceries on the conveyor. I don't know what got into me. I just put items on up there in whatever order I picked them up from my cart.

In no particular order.


It was strange. I may have felt a little free. I'm not lying when I say that I smiled all the way to my car. All I could think is that I felt like Superman, who had spent his whole life learning the perfect way to make kryptonite only to find that he'd developed a terrible allergy and now it was choking him to death! (That's a pretty ridiculous, awful analogy and Superman never made kryptonite, but if he did make it then the analogy would work. I promise.)

What I learned about myself? My organization superpower has taken over my grocery shopping and made me loathe and despise what should be an easy chore. I have officially over-organized.

I still rearranged a few groceries when I got to the car and bagged my Gatorade and Kleenex and paper towels. While you might think this was my over-organizing again, it was simply evidence to me that my obsession with check out order was really, truly pointless. I'm left wondering what other areas of my life I've devolved to a spreadsheet and then stressed out about. I suppose that gives me even more to learn about myself, doesn't it?

Now, I wonder if I can do it again next week...

1 comment:

Unknown said...

OMG Stormy! That is ME! No one in my family even attempts to unload the cart, because they know I'll growl at them. And, honestly, as much as I know it drives them crazy, I can often be found pushing the baggers out of my way, so that I can bag my own groceries. Or, telling them exactly what to put in the bags. Just the thought of doing what you did, and randomly putting items on the belt, makes me sweat. Huh. Maybe I need to see someone about this.