Shoppers Have So Many Choices, So Little Time
There are people who look back on their lives and wish they’d spent less time at work and more time with family. I’m going to be in the group that looks back on life and wishes I’d spent less time at the grocery. The ever-increasing multitude of choices at the store may reflect progress, but all this progress has become terribly time consuming. Did you know there are now 180 kinds of pasta? Someone could do an entire quiz show based on nothing but pasta shapes. The make-up of pasta is mushrooming as well. We now have whole grain, oven ready, no boil, vegan, quick cook, organic, gluten-free, quinoa penne and pasta made from chickpeas — all multiplied by at least 180 shapes. I could pick a stock fund for retirement or find the perfect little black dress in less time than it takes me to find one specific pasta. All I want is plain old pasta — the kind Italians eat, the kind that leaves you loving opera and imagining that you own a sprawling Tuscan villa with windows without screens. The pasta I often look for is orzo. I have a wonderful orzo salad recipe with fresh spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, pine nuts and lemon. Just thinking of it makes me think I can sing opera. You know where I usually find traditional orzo? On the top shelf. It doesn’t matter what store I’m in, it is nearly always on the top shelf. I have next-to-top shelf arms. In addition to the time I spend looking for the pasta, I am also out the time it takes to wait for someone who plays basketball to saunter down the aisle and reach it for me. This ever-growing multitude of choices takes a toll on a relationship. The husband and I have come to an understanding, which is more like a truce. I will no longer ask him to stop by the store for a bag of chocolate chips and he will not text me when I’m at the store to say he needs deodorant. The request for chocolate chips inevitably leads to a flurry of texts. “Milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate or dark chocolate? Regular, mini-chips or chunks? Small, medium or a bag big enough to feed the city?” I’m not any better when it comes to finding his deodorant. The last time I was looking, I asked him to send a picture of the one he had. If I had colors to match, the process might go faster. It didn’t. I still had to sort through 20 different brands with a dozen scents per brand — Sport, Super Sport, Ocean Surf, Aqua Sport, Regular, Fresh, Ultimate Sport, Musk, Irish Spring, New Car and Dirty Socks. OK, I made those last two up, but I bet they’re in the pipeline. The one he wanted that I couldn’t find? Unscented. Some of us just weren’t made to enjoy a thousand choices. LORI BORGMAN is a columnist, author and speaker. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.