Wednesday, January 09, 2019

2036 The Errand Boy


Once again, old is new.  In many places, you can get your groceries delivered or call in your order and pick it up.

In olden times, you could just phone your local grocer (remember those?) and they’d put your order in a big pushcart and deliver it to your door.  The errand boy -- they were all boys -- would bring the stuff upstairs if you lived in an apartment and if that’s what you wanted. They worked for tips.  

As chain supermarkets began to replace the locals, the practice first became an endangered species and then became extinct.  But it’s back. Bigly.

Here are the majors:
--Instacart: They hire personal shoppers who take your list around the market, then deliver your order.  Insta serves mostly small chain stores in regions where many people don’t drive.

--Peapod: It’s a division of Stop & Shop and a pioneer in this resurgent trade.

--Amazon.com: They’re just starting.  For now, no perishables. But you can bet that will change and soon.

--Google Express: again, no perishables.  But you can buy bulk items like cleaning supplies, paper towels, bathroom tissue.

--Walmart: Not quite there yet. But you can order on line and pick up from a reserved parking space right outside the store. They’re trying something like this at their Sam’s Club division, too.

Ms. Zhao, in her 70s, and not a driver doesn’t want “some sloppy kid choosing my tomatoes for me.  That’s what sloppy husbands are for.” Inspired by this, the Wessays(™) undercover research department dispatched observers to three different chain grocers to see how the sloppy kids do their jobs.  Some conclusions:

1.    All the errand boys were girls.
2.    All the errand boys inspected the perishables, one at a time before putting them in their carts.
3.    They checked that eggs weren’t cracked.
4.    They checked that dairy was within sell-by dates.
5.    The made sure fragile stuff -- chips, eggs, bread, etc. were bagged separately.
6.    They wore exam gloves.

“I think of my customers like they were my grandparents,” said Sarah the order picker.  “I love my grandparents and wouldn’t dream of bringing them a cracked egg, a bruised apple or tomato or a dented can,” she said.

Next thing you know, gas stations will start hiring pump jockeys. Office towers will start hiring elevator operators. Footwear stores will hire shoe dogs who know style, fit and which colors clash.
SHRAPNEL:
--Have you had enough Kool-Aid yet? If the answer is “no” try the newest flavor, Jamaica Estates Orange. And for a limited time only, each carton comes with a coupon good for a bucket of balls at the trump driving range in Moscow.

--Congratulations to Susan Zirinsky, newly named President of CBS News and the perfect choice for the job.  But while we’re throwing bouquets at “Z,” as she’s often called, let’s not forget Hinda Glasser, technically Cronkite’s secretary but actually the woman behind the throne at CBS News when women behind the throne weren’t acknowledged.


I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
© WJR 2019


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