March 20, 2018

Beware the Zombies!

Guess there is no going back. Pesach is in the air and is coming fast to a home near you. I’m staying calm and composed simply by using the denial method. Besides, it is now beach weather here. Why stay indoors cleaning?

One thing I am doing is buying Pesach products. This is because I have a phobia of being near chaotic grocery stores closer to the holiday. In fact, I actually went Pesach food shopping just yesterday.

However, this morning I decided to face the contents of my pantry and see which chametz ingredients are still lurking there. I found a box of lasagna noodles and half a box of cannelloni. As I cannot have them in my cupboard after next week, I have two options: throw them out or make a lasagna.

So back to the grocery store I went, this time in search of ingredients to prepare my chametz dishes. Sounds a big backwards?

When I went to get a shopping cart, I saw that the Shufersal store had implemented a kind of high tech grocery cart vending machine. 

People were standing around looking at it quizzically, not knowing what to do. What was so wrong with the old system of putting a 5-shekel coin in a lock to release a cart?

And why would the store invest in a fancy new lock system, yet not replace their shoddy, dangerous old carts? These shopping carts roll sideways, not forward. Pushing these carts could send a sore back into spasm. 

And trying to maneuver a full shopping cart that goes sideways through a busy parking lot without denting a parked car or hitting a delivery truck is an insurance liability.

We pulled at the locked carts. Nothing. We looked for the 5-shekel lock on the cart. Removed. We then took to staring at the new machine. Silence - a rarity in Israel. This machine had thrown us shopping robots completely off balance. 

Someone approached the machine and clicked on the computer screen. The machine talked back. It told the person to take a cart from Row Number 1. He approached the row and, eureka, a cart was released.

We followed suit, typing in our citizenship number and getting our carts. This high tech system care of our start-up nation enables the store to know who has their cart. I imagine the Shufersal cart police turning up at my house demanding an absconded shopping cart.  

It is a broiling March day as I exit the store. I am sweating as I push my cart sideways through the busy parking lot. As I cannot access my car easily, I consider pulling the shopping bags out and lugging them to my car. I try to do this, but the cart rolls off on a collision course towards another car. Did I mention that these carts also have a tendency to crash into expensive objects?

But even if the cart were to obediently stand still, I realize that I could never leave it  - it has my ID number associated with it.

Looking around, I see confused shoppers who cannot deal with the new machine wandering like zombies, looking for an empty cart like mine to nab. 

I hold onto it tightly and steer it to the high tech machine positioned close to my car. I type in my ID number and hold my breath. Nothing happens. I do it again. Nope. This high tech machine care of the start-up nation will not compute. It does not let me return the cart.

I wrestle the cart all the way back to the store entrance, feeling like I’ve ridden a long slimy snake back to the starting point in Snakes and Ladders. And, at the store entrance, the machine happily directs the cart back to its nesting box.

I’m no engineer or logistics expert, but the problem with this high-tech innovation is now obvious. You can only return it where there is a slot  – and this slot is obviously nowhere near  shoppers’ parked cars. 

I know there are smart minds in this country but maybe we export our clever stuff and leave the half-baked ideas back home in Israel for zombies like me.

Whatever the reason, I’m too tired and sweaty to think about chametz or Pesach or shopping carts. 

It is time to perfect my Pesach denial method and head to the beach.

Chag Sameach!