I’m at checkout at Carrs-Scarfway in Eagle River.
“Omigosh, I’m absolutely addicted to this coffee creamer!” said the cashier, holding up my bottle of Italian Creme coffee creamer. “The store ran out of this and I went ballistic, I have to have it!”
“Me too Me too!” I cried, happy to find another addict, like myself.
“Oh yeah, if I can’t have this in my coffee first thing in the morning, my world is messed up from then on!”
“Me too Me too!” I empathized again. “You guys ran out, Walmart didn’t have it, and I ran all over town, crazed.” Like an addict. Except I wasn’t willing to do crime to get my Italian Creme.
“I found it at Freddy’s,” I shared with her. “So when you can’t find it, go to Freddy’s, they always have it. By the way, why doesn’t Scarfway carry the garlic bread sprinkle and those little tiny pasta stars—Starini—anymore? Can’t find those either. Our fam got hooked on them, and now can’t find them anywhere.”
“Freddy’s has them!” I shrieked. I had found a soul mate, sharing my grief over food products I’d become accustomed to, and now, for whatever reason, they’ve disappeared from certain grocery stores, like they’d never existed.
It’s one thing to go through a Thanksgiving without onions, celery, and sweet potatoes, because the sea barge to Alaska one year lost containers in a storm in the Gulf of Alaska, enroute from Seattle.
Somehow, we survived without onions and celery in our turkey dressing. But the lack of sweet potatoes—it was ugly.
Yes, we Alaskans and many other Americans are shamefully dependent on food shipped to us by barge or air freighted daily (thank you, Alaska Airlines and Lynden and all the rest!) Note to self: Remember to squirrel away local Mat-Su veggies next winter! Double not to self: Stock up on earthquake food, DUH.
The cashier leaned across the counter. “It’s a conspiracy,” she whispered. She was dead serious.
“How so?” I asked, glancing at the mellow guy behind me in line, a stoned smile on his face (gotta love legalization).
“They take away our favorite products, so they can shove the least popular ones down our throats. But I’m onto ‘em. Now I buy, like 5 at a time, to stock up, you know, when they start their little conspiracy games.” She nodded in a cat-ate-the-canary way, like she’d outsmarted all of corporate America. Or China. Whatever.
She leaned heavily into me, like she was sharing a stock tip. “Don’t. Scan. Your grocery card. That’s how they know.”
“See? They’ve got hold of us, they hold all of us hostage. They know Alaskans will do anything for mileage. And when I say anything—I mean A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G!” Her eyes bulged at me.
“We should—we should—form a support group or something, with all of us that became addicted to products like Starini pasta, Italian coffee creamer, and garlic bread sprinkle, organize ourselves into a force to be reckoned with, go up against corporate America,” I offered, at a loss for anything else to say.
“Yeah. We totally should. Freaking conspiracy,” she narrowed her eyes, nodding at my suggestion, like she was going to take specific action at that very moment.
“Okay, $149 please!” She smiled brightly, reaching for my store card to record everything I’d just purchased for corporate America’s data collection pleasure. “Thank you, have a nice day! Hello sir, did you find everything okay?” She looked at the stoned, patient soul behind me.
I scooted out of the checkout line. She got me to thinking.
We Americans are a pampered lot. I’m having a damn all right day, if all I have to complain about is not finding star pasta and garlic bread sprinkle at Scarfway. Suck it up, girlfriend, I told myself. At least you can put food in your belly.
Even if we are at the mercy of a corporate American food conspiracy.
Or China. Whatever. LIPS
© Lois Paige Simenson and The Alaska Philosophaster, 2018, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to The Alaska Philosophaster with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.