expectations of abundance
Posted by adiamondinsunlight on February 22, 2009
I’ve written before about the mysterious ebbs and flows that characterized the stock on Beirut’s grocery store shelves – not to mention its Starbucks. The staples – locally produced goods – were always there, but imported or even semi-imported goods would sometimes disappear for ages. (Sietske has written about this as well, as has my aunt – apparently its a region-wide phenomenon.) When the shops were out of my favorite tea:
I would whine to myself for a while – but in the end, I would be fine.
Americans are, as the saying goes, spoiled for choice. We expect abundance in our mega-grocery stores, and we expect uninterrupted availability of our favorite brands. If a store carries product x by brand y, we expect the store to have it in stock all the time – and when it doesn’t, we expect an explanation and a re-stock within 24 hours (or a coupon to take away the pain). I never did get a coupon in Beirut, but I did get something better: the chance to develop a bit of consumer maturity.
There are no big-box stores in my current neighborhood, so – much as in Beirut – I shop for groceries at three smaller, local shops, each with a different selection of goods. From one I buy produce; from another, bread; and from the third, the staples: milk, yogurt, pasta, tea, etc.
But since Wednesday, my staple store has been yogurt-less. Well, there are a few lingering single-serve containers of fruit-flavored yogurt, but the two/three brands that the store carries in larger sizes have disappeared.
I thought nothing of it on Wednesday. On Thursday, I began to wonder. And yesterday, I asked the store owner when they would be getting more.
He gave me a look I know well from shopping in Beirut: a look that says: we carry yogurt [or whatever product has gone missing?
The yogurt that’s usually in the dairy section? I say, smiling awkwardly and putting an inept question-mark at the end of my sentence.
In the end, we agreed that the store does carry yogurt and that more will be in soon. And, as in Beirut, I whined to myself for a while – but in the end, I was fine :).