Adventures in Jewel, or where the #*@?* is the mayo?

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I keep saying, "Pushing 60 is all the exercise I need." I wage my personal, on-going battle against becoming a cranky old coot in various valiant ways, ever struggling to remain calm, cool and collected no matter what.

I long ago blocked or purposely forgot most of the stuff my father used to tell us yet I distinctly recall his one main mantra: "Life gets crazy so no matter what happens, you have to be flexible."

I focus on Dad's advice whenever things grow stressful. But then a few weeks ago, without any warning, the Jewel on Lake Street in River Forest decided to totally reorganize its entire stock. From toothpicks to bean dip?#34;-everything is now in different locations.

Now, don't get me wrong. I like change. Change is good. We all need change. Historically in this community we have embraced change. So I repeat: Change is good.

I never minded if periodically someone in the Jewel food chain decided that, say, jars of pickles really ought to be moved over to Aisle 6, near the back. I could handle that. I'm a flexible person. Change is good. But then one fine day, totally unprepared for Major Change, I did one of those pit stop dashes into the Jewel to "grab a few things" and oh-my-god. Everything was now completely different. I felt like Rip Van Winkle, visiting his favorite supermarket after waking up from his 20-year coma.

I love the Jewel on Lake Street. It's as big as McCormick Place. You can buy everything there from sushi to sweatshirts. You can purchase hot, ready-to-eat Buffalo wings or made-to-order floral arrangements. It's a big, wide, wonderful store. You need roller skates to see it all in one visit. But did any of the Jewel big shots realize how they'd make us all nuts by totally rearranging their entire stock in one fell swoop?

Four or five days into this New Improved Jewel reorganization project, I spotted helpful guides planted in every aisle armed with maps and checklists. "Finding everything okay?" they'd earnestly inquire. "Well, no," I grumbled, struggling not to appear completely disoriented in the middle of what used to be the cookie aisle. Now it had become the cereal section. Just plain wrong, if you ask me. But get a grip, Doug, I told myself. Folks in Louisiana are now missing their entire towns. You just can't find a few groceries.

Yet I distinctly felt like Dorothy Gale when she opened her back door and stepped out into Technicolor Oz. Would I be able to cope with this brave new world?

We are such creatures of habit. But usually you can crack the shelving system in a store you don't know, like if you have to stop for a few items in some alien neighborhood. Mustard is always near pickles, which is close to salad dressing, right next to mayonnaise. But after endlessly trudging up and down the aisles at the Lake Street Jewel, I decided to make an inquiry. I refuse to become one of those dumb males who never stops to ask for directions.

"I am looking for light mayonnaise," I told one of the many helpful guides, a woman around my age clutching a clipboard. "Well, let's see," she said, scanning her pages, seeming nearly as frustrated as I was. She finally took me by the hand and led me over three or four rows. We wandered up and down the aisles like Hansel and Gretel searching for a way out of the forest. We passed other shoppers shuffling around with their mouths open, presumably also disoriented. Aisle 6 looked like a casting call for the zombie scenes in Night of the Living Dead.

I think I can now adjust. I mean, it's not like we have a choice. Change is good. But change is hard. We just have to roll with it, be flexible, and above all else, remember that it's the little things that can put you over the edge.

?#34;Doug Deuchler


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