Friday, November 27, 2009

Why I shop at our neighborhood Key Market

Last week, the lovely Carol ordered a turkey for today's big gathering -- about 25 folks will be coming today for a sorta-pot-luck. These are people without family nearby, many of them from another country. A few are students; most aren't.

Rather than picking up our turkey on Thursday (with bazillions of other shoppers), we decided to pick it up this morning. That way, we could just bring it home, stuff it, and pop it into the oven -- no need to make room for it in the 'fridge, etc.

Yesterday, while we were out hiking at Rancho San Antonio, someone called from the meat department at Key to tell us that there was only one ordered-but-not-picked-up turkey left -- ours. "We'll be here 'til one o'clock." They had called maybe 11:30; we got home about 1:30.

Wasn't that nice? They knew we ordered a turkey (I guess they didn't notice we ordered it for today rather than yesterday), and they called to remind us about it. Think you'd get a call like that from one of the big guys? Ha!

So I dropped by this morning and inched the door open over in the meat department. Pete came over to help me. "We ordered a turkey?" I said.


I told him, and yes, it was the last one. "Thanks for calling us!" I told him. We did a little more shopping, paid, and left happy.

But when I opened the wrapper, I wasn't so happy any more. I called the number that they'd left yesterday. "Meat department, Pete speaking."

"Hi, Collin Park, I picked up a turkey, oh, half an hour ago?" He remembered -- it's not real busy over there today. I went on, "I opened it up and it don't smell so good."

Pete told me to bring it in, and he'd give me another one and open it up and we could make sure this one was okay. This sounded good to me. "You can sanity-check me too," I told him.

So I zipped on down there, and Pete took a whiff. "It's a little sour all right," he said. Then he pointed out a change in the coloration on the drumstick ends; they were a little yellow. It's been five years, he said, since he'd had anything like this happen. "Too bad it happened to you," he added. He got another bird out of about the same weight, and slit the wrapper with his box cutter. We both took a whiff and it smelled a lot better.

Pete wrapped it up for me, then walked out with me, past the cashier. I thanked him and came on home.

The bird's in the oven now, and it's about time to go baste it again. But I wanted to share this experience with you. Could we have gotten a bigger bird at Costco for the same amount of money? Well, maybe. But a pleasant shopping experience -- that's worth something to us too. Don't get me wrong -- I like Costco and buy things there I can't get easily elsewhere. But the neighborhood grocery store has a lot going for it too.

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