“OK, Boomer,” said my kids as I struggled to make sense of online grocery shopping. It was a drizzly Sunday afternoon. They read books and played video games while I stared at the Fred Meyer website.
“I’m not a Baby Boomer. I’m Generation X,” I said from my perch on the couch. Still, I could see that they had a point. Online grocery shopping has been around for a long time, and except for a brief dabble in Amazon Fresh when I recovered from surgery, I’d never tried it. Instacart, ClickList, Curbside Pickup — all of these options were foreign to me. I really needed to get with the times.
“It can’t be that hard,” my son said.
“You buy stuff online all the time,” my daughter pointed out. “How is this different?”
I fluttered my seven page-grocery list. “What if I get halfway through selecting the items and my computer crashes?”
“The world will explode and all of us will die,” my son said, rolling his eyes. “Be careful.”
When I logged into my new Kroger account, the first thing I noticed was that the website had a list of all of my purchases for the last gazillion years. I knew Big Brother was watching me, but did he really have to keep a record of every time I bought gummy bears? I shuddered and kept going, inputting the epic tome that was my weekly shopping list.
Fifteen minutes later, I was ready to select a pick up time. I chose Sunday night from 7 to 8. Since this was the first time I used Fred Meyer’s Pickup service, it was free. Tipping was prohibited. I signed up for the text message alert so that I would have extra information about when my order was ready.
A few hours later, I received a text saying that some of the items I’d requested were unavailable, and asked for my approval for substitutions. I clicked through and approved everything except for the yogurt.
Later that night, we piled in the car and drove to Lynnwood. I was still anxious about how this would work. Thankfully, the gigantic blue “Pickup” signs were easy to spot. I pulled into a slot and dialed the phone number on the sign, while my family went to Baskin Robbins. A few minutes later, an employee named Rayne rolled out all of my groceries and helped load them into my car.
“I don’t understand how this works,” I told her. “Are the prices more expensive when I order online?”
“No,” she said. “They’re the same prices as in the store.”
“And normally curbside delivery costs $4.95?” I asked.
“Yes,” she nodded. “That’s right.”
I thanked Rayne for doing my grocery shopping for me and climbed back into the car.
“Can you believe that service was free?” I asked my husband when he and the kids returned with ice cream. “Collecting all of those groceries was probably 90 minutes of labor.”
“It wasn’t exactly free,” he said, handing me a scoop. “I just spent $15 at Baskin Robbins.”
Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal. Email her at email@example.com.