Advances in grocery shopping … maybe | Column | The Press and Standard

by | October 14, 2017 5:00 pm

Last Updated: October 11, 2017 at 11:45 am

Tired of fighting traffic and crowds to do the grocery shopping? Sick of throwing out your shoulder trying to carry 15 bags in the house at once?
Several grocery chains now offer on-line shopping that lets you pick, pay and pick up at the curb. Amazon will ship everything from tandoori chicken to Tylenol to your front step. Target has also jumped into the fray, with its Restock home delivery in 10 markets, including Atlanta.
But if none of that eases your time-crunched schedule… you might have another option. In September Wal-Mart announced it was testing a new home-delivery service, in which employees take groceries straight to customers’ refrigerators. It launched in Silicon Valley, where everybody works 20 hours a day anyway.
It goes like this: If you have a smart lock, a Wal-Mart employee will use a one-time pre-authorized passcode to enter your empty house and put your groceries away. (If you do not have a smart lock, congratulations! Your life just got less complicated.)
Let’s repeat: A stranger will enter your home and put away your groceries. Because what could possibly go wrong?
Wal-Mart says the homeowner would be in control of “the entire experience.” You’d receive a notification that a delivery is in progress, and could even view the process in real time. Like I want to be watching when a stranger opens my refrigerator and screams, “Sweet Jesus, what is that!?!”
I’m not saying this is a bad idea. I’m saying I’d eat old socks chased with sour milk before I’d let a stranger near my pantry. And it’s not even the security factor—the delivery people would probably have to be bonded, like a cleaning service. Or maybe not.
The main problem is, nobody knows where my groceries should go but me. I can barely tolerate my husband putting them away, and he lives here. There’s a very specific location for each item: In the cabinets, the soup goes in front of the dried pasta. The canned tuna and pickles go next to the olive oil, but nowhere near the protein bars. Tonic water goes on top of the dryer. (A LOT of stuff goes on top of the dryer.) The spelt flour goes on the highest shelf (I just hurl it like a shotput and hope for the best.) The honey goes on the counter. The second shelf of the fridge is reserved for butter and yogurt. Do not put the eggs in the vegetable crisper, or mayhem will happen. Laundry detergent goes in the upright cabinet, third shelf, next to the sandwich baggies and tinfoil. My point is, if I get home from work and have to rearrange the groceries, why bother? (Confession: I may or may not have severe control issues.)
Another thing: What if they judge my housekeeping skills? They wouldn’t have to claw through spider webs or step over hot garbage, but they might side-eye the unfolded laundry or my collection of moldy cheese. Look, I’ve had my house cleaned maybe five times, ever. And each time, I do the frenzied, obligatory pre-clean. I race around spraying and wiping before they come, so they don’t think we’re disgusting slobs who live in filth. It’s okay if the baseboards need dusting, because everyone’s baseboards need dusting.
I just don’t want them to look at my bathroom floor and say, “Is that makeup and hair gel, or her husband’s blood?”
Same with people delivering groceries. I guess I could leave a note on the fridge: “Don’t judge me.”

(Julie R. Smith, who will buy clothes and drugs online but not a can of soup, can be reached at


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