the illusion of choice

Dear internet,

So we’re not supposed to leave our houses for the next two weeks.

I like working on logistics. Give me a travel itinerary and I will spend many happy hours trying to maximize efficiency. I love trying to find the best laser printer in terms of time/money. I enjoy tracking packages online and spend airline flights poring over the map portion of the in-flight magazine.


As a child I always wanted to be Very Well Prepared, so I read Hints with Heloise* and devoured articles with life tips like how to survive falling overboard on a boat with just your boots as a personal flotation device, or how to fix a toilet without calling the plumber. (Am I a logistics person or more of a MacGuyver at heart?)


You would think that the whole grocery store situation** would be thrilling for me. But, it is not. You can’t maximize efficiency when there are no controls and all the choices keep changing. It’s like going to a casino thinking you are going to make money.


Here are the choices:

  • Go to the grocery store exposing yourself and others to germs BUT you know what is on the shelves and can improvise if needed. No organic chicken breast? That’s fine, warm Spam sammies for all!


  • Wait a week for delivery. Almost impossible to get delivery and it involves setting a 3 am alarm to try to get a spot. Hope that when you do get your groceries they have what you want, because if they don’t, you will be down to dried beans and canned pineapple.


  • Go to the only grocery store that has same-day pick-up. Which sounds so convenient! Almost…too easy. Oh, I see that grocery store is right next to the mass Covid-19 testing center.


Which one will I choose? Which one would you choose?




*Until Hints from Heloise got crappy, when she started publishing “tips” like “Tupperware is a good way to store food. Make sure you put the lid on the container so the food doesn’t dry out!”


  • ** We are not supposed to leave the house at all for the next two weeks, not even to grocery shop, although the exact reason why seems somewhat unclear. Some people are like, “this will kill the virus in its tracks!” and others are like, “if you get sick this week, you will die.” I am not a hobby epidemiologist so I guess maybe everyone is right? But maybe they are wrong?

    safeway delivery truck on the map
    Watching the grocery truck make its deliveries is like tracking santa claus