Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Making a Difference

[Reposted from December 2007]

We all seek to leave our mark on the world: to do something that will be appreciated by others, even if we receive no credit. Here is my story.

I shop at the Real Canadian Superstore regularly. It’s where we do our regular family shopping as well as occasional mid-week trips. Now the Czar of Superstore, or at least the VP in charge of aisle naming, organizes the store in so cryptic a fashion that neither I nor Husband (who does his share of the family shopping trips) can discern a pattern (and we’ve tried). Tomato sauce is on a different aisle than tomato paste. Fruit in little cups is in the pudding aisle while fruit in larger jars are in the fruit and vegetable aisle. Don’t get me started on the maze that is the produce section. Even if it were organized by colour I think I’d have a decent chance of making it through that section in one go.

To be efficient in our shopping, we have created pre-printed lists where we list what we ordinarily shop for by aisle, in the order that we traverse the store. Last year we moved from the catchment of one Superstore to another. We discovered that the VP of Aisle-Naming does not have enough to do so he creates a new labyrinth in each Superstore which only resembles any other Superstore in that homo, 2% and skim milk are usually in the same cooler. So we revamped our list. In all honesty it took us about 6 months to get it done, but finally we were prepared.

Within eight minutes of our updating our new list, Superstore decided to re“organize” all their stores to have a similar “pattern”. So our list was out of date. (and still is – but we’re coping).

Some months ago, I was looking for crackers. I had done my usual rounds of every aisle except pet food (can’t stand the smell) and did not come across the crackers. I know I have found them before but I cannot remember where. They are not with cookies, chips or even rice/pasta (thinking maybe carbs are stored together?). Crackers are not listed on any of the overhead signs. Now I would have thought that crackers were a big enough category to merit its own piece of real estate on the overhead signs. It’s not like I was looking for “anchovy flavoured gel candles” to be particularly identified.

As luck would have it, a store manager walks by and I ask him where the crackers are. He tells me the aisle and I look toward that aisle and the overhead sign read “Juice / Drink Crystals”. Of course, I should have immediately known. VP of Aisle-Naming must have known when you eat crackers you get thirsty and you may want juice or a drink made from crystals so that is where they should be.

Seeing the opportunity to have access to VP Aisle-Naming (who must attend at least one meeting with this manager every three years), I say to manager is as pleasant a voice as one can muster after 60 minutes of shopping with a cart with 3 bum wheels “now that’s not entirely intuitive.”

“No it’s not”. He concedes.

“You see” I continue, “if I were looking for drink crystals, I might be able to make the leap that it’s on the juice aisle. But looking for crackers, I did not make the connection.”

He said “we should change the sign. I’m going to look into it.”

This is pretty heady stuff for someone who can’t get her own children to listen to her. No doubt you can see where this is going. When I had all but forgotten my interchange with the seat of power in the juice aisle and after another half dozen times of having conjure up the memory of where to find crackers, one day I see it in white and green: “CRACKERS”.

Don’t give up the dream people: you too can make a difference.

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