Fall Back

November 4, 2012

I’m not a very big fan of one-hour time changes. I don’t mind falling back as much as I mind springing ahead, but I much prefer flying to Italy and having a six-hour time change than going to Chicago and only having a one-hour time change. I read somewhere once that the number of days it takes to adjust to a time change is equal to the number of hours you’ve changed. By this logic, it should take me six days to adjust to Italian time but only one to adjust to Chicago time. I think they’re wrong. We fell back in the wee hours this morning. Or for me, I fell back just before going to bed. (I try to reset all of the clocks then so that they show the right time when I wake up. I will not have adjusted to the new time by the end of today. I doubt I’ll be adjusted to it by the end of tomorrow either. My experience is that it takes me nearly a week to adjust to the time change. Do you know how long it takes me to adjust to Italian time? One night. If I arrive in Europe in the morning, I’ll be a little out of it most of that day, and I’ll probably go to bed on the early side, but by then I’m usually so exhausted that I sleep all night and wake up in the morning when a person (or at least a person on vacation) ought to wake up. (And for me, sleeping in on vacation might mean 7 or 8, so not too late to miss the day.)

To give you some background, I am a morning lark. I choose to get to work by 7 so that I can leave by 3:30. This means my alarm goes off at 5:45.

I woke up at 4 this morning. Which, if you think about it, isn’t terrible. That’s 45 minutes earlier than my alarm went off on Friday. I prefer to sleep later if possible, but it’s not unusual for me to wake up at 5 on a weekend. Except, of course, with the time change, that 5 turned into 4. I’d planned to go to Meijer this morning, but I decided 4 was just a little too early even if they are open 24 hours. I was mature and waited until 5. I don’t know if you’ve ever gone to Meijer at 5 on a Sunday morning. And if you’re not from Michigan, there’s a good chance you’ve never gone to Meijer, but that’s another story altogether.

(Side note: When I was in college, there was one other student from Michigan in my class. Our friends thought it was pretty funny to get the two of us talking about Meijer. It hadn’t expanded into Illinois yet, so it was difficult for people to understand just how awesome it was that you could pick up your groceries, bedding plants, and new tires for your car all in one shopping trip. Okay, I’m not sure if you can still buy tires, but I remember when you could. We also had trouble explaining just why Vernor’s is the only ginger ale a person should ever drink.)


Meijer in the wee hours of the morning is almost a different world. It’s difficult to navigate not because you’re trying to avoid other shoppers, but because you’re trying to avoid the stockers. It’s a time that customer service seems, well, less important. The aisles are full of palettes of boxes. The stockers just toss the empty boxes in the aisles, so you have to get around both full palettes and empty boxes and the stockers themselves. And you start to feel almost invisible. The danger of going to Meijer this early lies in the produce section. It will either be nearly devoid of food or recently stocked. There is no real middle ground.

What I discovered on this trip is that the only checkout lanes available were self-serve. I hate self-serve lanes. Sure, they’re fine if I’m just running in for one or two things, as long as they weigh enough to register on the scale after I scan them. (That’s always fun. “Please place the item in the bag.” I did. But it’s a greeting card. It doesn’t weigh an ounce. “Please place the item in the bag.”) But when I’m doing proper grocery shopping, I prefer to deal with people. They frequently know the produce codes without having to look them up. They can scan and bag while I’m still emptying my cart. They’re generally friendly. There’s no waiting for assistance because something didn’t scan or the scale doesn’t believe you actually put the item in the bag. I find checkout clerks to be far superior to self-serve checkout lanes. So I saw that all of the self-serve lanes were open at the produce end of the store, but past experience told me that there had to be at least one regular lane open. I walked past all of the lanes looking for the one light that was on. (There was a glare on some of the lane lights from the fluorescents, so from a distance it wasn’t possible to tell if it was a reflection or an actual light.) None. There were no regular lanes open. With a sigh, I turned back to the self-serve lanes. And I was almost back to them when an employee, one Larry M (I made sure to make note of his nametag so that I could properly acknowledge him), said, “I can ring you up on lane 12 if you’d like.”

“I would love for you to do that,” I replied. “I prefer dealing with people.”

Now, I may have been wrong about no lanes being open. If any lane was open, it would have been 12. That’s where they keep the cigarettes. It’s also the accessible lane. And while the light on lane 12 wasn’t on, it didn’t look like he had to log in to the register in order to ring me up. It’s possible he’d just stepped away for a moment and turned off the light when he did so. But either way, he saw the resigned look on my face and offered wonderful customer service. This post has been a very long-winded way of saying Larry M deserves employee of the year, or at least week.

And, yes, I was home and the groceries were all put away before 7. We’ll see how early I crash.


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