By Sophia Yakumithis
Trader Joe’s isn’t somewhere I frequently shop. The nearest one is about 45 minutes from my house, so picking up groceries is essentially a pilgrimage — a pilgrimage I’m willing to take, that is.
Given that it’s not just a quick run-and-done type thing, I pretty much only make the trek if I want specifically Trader Joe’s-brand products. However, I do greatly enjoy going as an occasional, spontaneous pick-me-up.
Trader Joe’s has some unique products that you can’t get anywhere else, plus there’s something really satisfying about eating a local peach that costs way less than it probably should. If I’m dying to get out of town for a minute and pick up a treat for myself, it’s the first place on my list.
Since supermarkets have implemented strict adherence to social distancing measures, though, those spontaneous runs have been sidelined.
Too many times I have mustered up the energy to put on pants with buttons, fill my tank with gas and drive all the way out to Ann Arbor, Michigan only to make that fateful left turn into a strip mall and be greeted by soccer moms and granola dads standing at a comfortable, tape-indicated six-foot distance from one another. And this isn’t just a few people hanging around — this is a line that stretches all the way from the tucked-back storefront to the street and then some.
It’s absurd, yet people are willing to wait.
It amazes me that white suburbs can’t stay away from novelties like Joe-Joe’s (a knock-off Oreo) or Everything but the Bagel seasoning (literally just the seasoning on a damn everything bagel) to the extent that they’re willing to wait in a line longer than an episode of “House of Cards” and then get sardined into the tiny store with the rest of the addicted, frantic shoppers. That kind of defeats the purpose of distancing, right?
All I have to say to those willing to wait is that Trader Joe himself better be baptizing customers at the checkout, perhaps with Trader Joe’s-brand holy water.
On-the-verge-of-tears is my constant state. I am losing the will and hope to drive out, and my attempts are becoming less frequent. I’ve tested different times of days, and I’ve learned that no one can resist this grocery Mecca.
Unfortunately, until social distancing subsides, I don’t think my body will be so privileged as to taste the sweet, sweet flavor of dried mango or sweet potato tortilla chips — for these are products that only Trader Joe has mastered the taste of and I am unwilling to pursue other sorry attempts.
In the meantime, the dispensary to the left of it will supply my emotional needs.