The hunt for red in November - Tucson Local Media: Editorials

The hunt for red in November

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Posted: Wednesday, November 24, 2010 12:00 am

Thanksgiving is a peculiar time of year.

We say we’re going to relax and celebrate thankfulness for what we have, but that rarely happens. Most often we stuff ourselves at lavish buffets or at home and then head to the malls for sales in anticipation of another over-hyped marketing holiday spectacle, Christmas.

But this year, Turkey Day was going to be different for me; all I needed was a can of cranberry sauce. Nothing is easy these days.

I don’t know for sure why I do it, habit maybe, but I always get a shopping cart rather than a hand basket when I enter the grocery store. I got lucky and snagged one having three out of four wheels that rolled without locking up every 10 feet and skidding. And I always use those alcohol towelettes at the entryways for wiping away the flu and cold germs from the handlebar.

However, for some folks it isn’t that easy. As I was tossing my germ fighter into the trash, a woman tapped me on the shoulder and asked how I’d gotten the germ-fighting towel out of the dispenser. First answer that came to mind was, “You’re joking, I pulled on it and it came out.” Somehow she managed to push the one awaiting her tug right back into the container, so I invoked my handy homeowner skills in dismantling the dreadnaught and restarting the daunting procedure of pull and wipe.

As I was explaining the process to her she blurted, “I don’t need to know how to repair it; all I want is a towel.” What?! What happened to “thanks?” What’s happened to the happy holidays?

All I needed was a can of cranberry sauce and I’d be out of there. You’d think the store manager would have barrels of the stuff greeting us at the entrances, but no such luck. I scoured the aisles, and saw nothing that resembled berry gel in a can. The freezer section was no help, either.

I was getting desperate, so I asked a total stranger if she knew where the cranberry sauce might be shelved. No clue. After enlisting the assistance of half a dozen newfound acquaintances, my cart remained empty. Finally, a store employee, surely she’d know where it was hidden. She led me around the store making a quick surveillance of the most logical locations, and she too met the same fate — no cranberry sauce.

Did America secretly ban cranberry sauce during Thanksgiving, or did the Chinese cut off this year’s supply and I missed the memo? Was it boycotted because it’s somehow presumed to be produced by the oil companies? Maybe the turkeys hijacked it in hopes of being spared this year. I just needed one can of cranberry sauce.

By the time I was totally exasperated, I’d procured the assistance of over a dozen willing shelf searchers intent on locating a can of cranberry sauce for me, and met a slew of semi-professional holiday shoppers in the process and we formulated a simple plan; when someone found it, they’d yell “I have it” until I found them. I didn’t hear a sound.

Fortunately, I bumped into a familiar neighbor and her visiting sister-in-law; unfortunately, neither one had shopped at that particular store and didn’t know one aisle from another. But her personality wouldn’t allow defeat and she began recruiting additional cranberry sauce hunters as they attempted to squeeze past us as we blocked the aisle like a herd of Alzheimer-ridden cattle looking for the barn at dinner time. At that point the only thing I wanted to do was quietly exit the store. And then I heard it, the victory shout “I have it, I have it” coming from several aisles over. Sure enough, it was beginner’s luck; the sister-in-law was sporting a big grin and a can of cranberry sauce. The marketing gurus had cleverly housed it on a shelf among other similar products such as broccoli, beets and sauerkraut. Nice marketing ploy.

These shopping adventures are never a total waste, in fact they often prove to be rewarding. Once again I’m reminded that men need women to achieve even the least significant shopping feat.

Upon arriving at home, I confidently handed the can of cranberry to my wife and expected a big, “Thank you.” Instead, she stared at it and said, “Why did you buy the whole berry, you know I always use the jellied.” I blamed it on the women at the store.

I just love the holidays.

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