Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

The ghost of grocery store past

Okay, so this daily journal thing slips away from me sometimes. A lot’s been up in the last few days, and I’m getting ready to leave for vacation on Saturday. Actually, I haven’t been getting ready, and that’s a problem. I will probably throw a bunch of crap in a suitcase an hour before I leave for the airport, and then end up in the middle of the fucking desert without a single pair of shorts. But, that’s why they invented Mastercard.

The big news – the book is done, and available. Go here and check out the page. You can view the whole thing from the publisher, and I also installed a message board, so ask some questions about it. And of course, buy the damn thing! It’s only $16 this time, and it’s a fairly easy book to read. You don’t even need to read it in order – just open it to a random page.

I don’t have copies of the book yet, but they are allegedly on the way. They will probably show up next week while I’m out of town. I still haven’t sent out a huge email yet telling everyone about it. I might wait the 4-6 weeks until it shows up on Amazon, because that’s where most people buy it from.

I found an incredible grocery store near where I work. I grew up in the midwest, where there was a Kroger’s store every mile, and each store had a few million square feet of floor space with every food imaginable. But in New York City, the grocery situation sucks. I’m sure it’s the lack of space, plus the markups, high costs, and the fact that everything has to be trucked in from far away, and it’s all run by the mafia. So the Key Foods near my house is in horrible shape, the kind of sanitary conditions you’d expect out of a Russian prison shortly after World War II. There are no choices in foods, the refrigerators are tepid, the freezers are covered with ten years’ worth of frost, and the cashiers give you so much shit, it’s a crime that they also ask you for money for the food. And for some reason, after you get such shitty service, there is a fucking tip jar at the cashier for the bagboy. Most of the time, I end up bagging the stuff myself, and if they do bag it, it’s all wrong. Plus, there are almost no 24-hour grocery stores in NYC. Compare that to Safeway and QFC in Seattle, who had an incredible variety of foods, great cashiers who knew me by name, and they were always open!

Anyway, I went to Safeway when I was in Washington, DC a bit ago, and it depressed me so much that I decided that I was either going to leave New York, or move to Jersey or something, where they had real stores. And then after a few weeks, I thought I was just nuts. Then the other day, I went to this Morton Williams store on Bleecker and LaGuardia, and the place might as well have been a Safeway. Well lit, air conditioned, very modern looking, wide shelves with lots of choices, excellent produce, large freezer cases and open fridge areas that were actually cold, and clean. And the cashiers were nice! I bought a sandwich and some sliced watermelon while I was there, and it was incredible. I can’t begin to explain how such a hospitable oasis in a desert of pure corruption and filth made me feel.

Enough with my insane rant, I need some lunch.