To Better Serve You

To Better Serve You


            So I stopped off in a hurry yesterday afternoon, in a hurry because I, like most people these days, had some place to be other than where I was. At that time the moment, the place I didn’t want was the grocery store. It was the first part of my Kessel run (I still had three more stops) and I didn’t feel as if I had anywhere near twelve parsecs before I had to be at my final destination, which was not a galaxy far, far away, but my backyard cooking burgers and hot dogs for our afternoon gathering. (All honors to Mr. Lucas and his fabulous story)

            I had no worries, though. I had been shopping at this particular grocery store for more than ten years. I knew the inns and out of this store almost as well as I knew the layout of my own shop. The bread was in aisle two, the soft drinks in aisle five, the charcoal and lighter fluid were in aisle seven, the hotdogs were in the cooler section along the back wall on the right hand side and the cheese in the cooler section along the right hand wall. This was going to be easy. Unless some jackass was in the twenty items or less checkout line with thirty cans of vegetables, then I’d be in or out in less than twenty minutes, hardly a parsec. That would leave me plenty of time to gas up my car, buy cigarettes and beer, and still be home in time to fire up the grill, turn on the game, and get relaxed after a hard week’s work.

            I jumped out of the car and hit the door running, snatching a shopping cart so hard and fast the wheels squeaked on the tiled floor. I push on past the impulse items stacked along the wall, past the produce and made my turn into aisle two, ran down to where the bread was supposed to be…and found myself staring at a row of olives, pickles, and jalapenos.


            I looked around for a second, but I didn’t tarry long. My parsecs were ticking, so I moved on to the back wall, where the hotdogs are located. As I moved along the back wall, up from the hotdogs, with the aisles to my left, I was sure I would find out what had happened to the bread aisle or I would run into old Fred White, the manager, and ask him. At that moment, I needed to keep moving. Parsecs were parsecs and they waited for no one.

            Straight down from aisle two, along the back wall, right where the hotdogs had always been, I ran straight into the ice cream section. Oscar Mayer was nowhere to be seen and Breyers was giving me the bird. The ice cream sandwiches looked tasty, but I didn’t think they’d last too long over the burning coals.

            The whole store started to spin around me. I had been in the store for five long minutes now and had exactly nothing from my list in the shopping cart. Nothing!  Before too long, a whole host of people would gather around me demanding food and I had nothing!

            What in the hell is going on here?

            Just when I thought all was lost, I looked up and saw an employee of the store, dressed in a cheesy uniform and wearing an even cheesier button on his shirt that said, Here to Serve You.

            The uniform and the hat were new to the store, but I didn’t have time to contemplate its meaning just now. I had things to cook and guests to please. I needed to get in and get out, so I violated the ages old “man’s code” of never asking for help and called to him.

            “Young man!” I said moving towards him. “Young man, I need to some help immediately.”

            “What seems to be the problem?” he asked.

A smile crossed his face that made me uneasy, but I ignored it for the sake of time.

“I can’t find anything,” I said.

“Well, I’d be happy to help you find what you need,” he said. “Just tell me and I will help.”

            So I babbled off my list as quickly as I could and off through the store we went, weaving in out and out of aisles, from the front to the back, from end of the store to the other. After another five minutes had passed, I still didn’t have anything on my very short list in my shopping cart. It became evident to that this young man had no more idea where things were than I did. When I had finally had all the exercise I could stand, I put a stop to it all.

            “Young man,” I said. “This is nonsense. I have been coming here for two decades and everything is always in the same place. The bread and the hotdogs and everything else, in the same place for two decades and now everything is all turned around. What in the world is going on?”

            “Well, we felt that to better serve you, we would rearrange the store to more closely suit your needs,” he said.

He smiled and pointed to his cheesy button. I wanted to punch that button on its saying.

“Where’s Fred White?” I asked. “I want to see Fred. He is going to explain this nonsense to me right now.”

            “Mister White no longer works here,” the young man said. “I am the new manager.”

            The fact that old Fred White didn’t work there any more threw me off guard a little, but I didn’t pursue it. I had bigger problems to deal with. I pressed on.

            “Young man,” I said with all the patience that was left in me. “Did I miss a survey somewhere? Did I miss something that was sent to me to ask me how you could better serve me? Did I miss the opportunity to provide you feedback on how changing around this store might not be in my best interest?”

            “No,” he said. “There was no survey. We just felt it was in your best interest to rearrange the store.”

            “I am sorry,” I said, now no longer believing the signals my ears were sending to my brain. “How is in my best interest to rearrange everything and cause me to not know everything I’ve known for the last twenty plus years?”

            “Sir, sometimes in the name of progress, we have to take some steps back,” he said.

            Now I wanted to punch more than his button. But I didn’t have time to argue, so once again, I pressed on.

            “Okay,” I said. “I am in a hurry, so sense you obviously don’t know where everything is, then could you direct me to the person who rearranged my store. Surely he will know where I can find the damned hotdog buns.”

            “Oh, I rearranged the store,” he said proudly.

            “But you don’t know where everything is, either!” I screamed.

            “I know,” he said smiling. “But in time, I will.”

            Now, instead of punching, I just wanted to scream.


            Now the entire story above, as you might have guessed, is something of a dramatization. But tell me the truth. Isn’t this exactly how you feel every single time you go onto your favorite website only to find that it has been completely rearranged to better serve you?


Tim Keen





About timkeen40

When I was seven, I opened one of those little Golden Books (Lassie) and started copying the words down on paper and it set my soul on fire. I have been writing ever since. I don't know where this is going but I invite you along on the journey.
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14 Responses to To Better Serve You

  1. prenin says:

    They do it to stores here too in the UK.

    I think the idea is to fool you into traipsing through the whole store in the hope that you will buy more than you planned!

    Doesn’t work with me, but I get VERY frustrated!!! 😦

    God Bless!


  2. I feel the same way about WordPress…. I still can’t find Notifications which I had only discovered a few weeks ago! Bah!

  3. I can definitely relate. Things like online banking or shopping that you feel so at home visiting the site, and then all of a sudden, everything looks strange. Great post.

  4. I loved the story! Very funny but so very true, too! And yes, I feel your pain!!!

  5. diannegray says:

    It really annoys me when they move things around in the grocery store. This is a great story (and gave me a bit of a chuckle) 😀

  6. Pat says:

    Hmm. I have met this scenario a couple of times. Very well done. And funny too, unless it happens to you! They do it in the UK. I hate it too. I have been known (because I can be in a hurry too and also sometimes short of patience) to leave my half full trolley in the middle of the aisle and go to another supermarket!! I once asked a manager what he thought he was up to: he told me they had re-merchandised. He used the expression several times in answer to different questions.
    The real reason of course is that they want you to spend four days looking for the loo roll because they hope you will spend more en route. This is not my experience…..

  7. willowdot21 says:

    Yes, yes I hate it I loathe it I dread it!! When I was working I worked on a “Welcome Desk” of a supermarket and every time the fairies snook in and changed it over night it was so embarrassing because like your Man with the Plan we were meant to know where everything was!!

  8. Oh yeah – and store too! 🙂

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