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Finding Dates at the Grocery Store

Finding Dates at the Grocery Store

Finding dates at the grocery store is easier said than done. For the uninitiated, some grocery store clerks won’t get that you’re looking for fruit.

On the morning of Dec. 31, I swung by the nearest Safeway to get the ingredients for goat cheese-stuffed, bacon-wrapped dates. You need goat cheese, bacon, dates, and toothpicks, none of which can be found in my empty fridge and barren cupboards.

Every time I enter a grocery store, it’s as if I’ve never been in one before. Aisles! Strategically grouped foods and paper products! Whee! I wander up and down in search of my quarry, make my way from one end of the store to the other, then hit each aisle a second time. If bacon’s not stored by the ground beef, then where is it? Do they even sell toothpicks? Why isn’t goat cheese located in the cheese/butter aisle? And where on earth are the dates?

As it’s New Year’s Eve and the store’s bursting at the retail seams with customers, there’s naturally a sum total of five employees onsite. Through a miracle of timing and a massive tomato sauce spillage in aisle 8, I locate one of these five employees, who’s crouched on the balls of his feet inspecting the floor sauce in the hopes it will magically disappear.

“Sir, can you tell me where I can find dates?” I ask.

“Excuse me?” he asks as he wobbles, threatens to topple, and grabs the shelf for support.

“Dates,” I repeat.

Stan (according to his name tag) slowly stands up and takes two small steps backward, which makes complete sense as I’ve suddenly become more dangerous than the Ragu coating the floor. Stan folds his arms tight to signal that no matter how much I might want to I should NOT throw my arms around him and shower him with kisses. “I can’t help you,” he mutters.

“They’re fruit,” I say.

“What are fruit?” Stan says.


“I said I can’t help you.”

Always one to take a cue, I begin my third stroll up every aisle in the store, then sift through the produce section again. As luck would have it, another one of the five store employees starts unloading a basket of bananas, so I swoop in.

“Excuse me,” I ask, “can you tell me where I might find dates?”

“What?” Marcus (name tag) pulls off his cap, then replants it sideways on his head circa-1998. He then takes two small steps toward me, leans casually on the banana stand, and smiles. “Are you talking about the fruit?”

“Sure am.”


“Do you have them?”


“Dates? Do you have dates?”

“The fruit? I don’t know. I don’t think so.”

“Dates are in that cardboard box by the apples,” a woman says as she flies by pushing a toddler-filled shopping cart.

“Can I help you with anything else?” Marcus asks, following me as I head toward the apples.

Meaning, do I need more help finding dates at the grocery store? “Nope,” I said. “I’m good.”

2 Responses

  1. Ha ha ha! This is marvelous! Were Stan and Marcus’s name tags also inscribed with the titles of their favorite books? That could have made for several hours of fascinating conversation, I’m sure.

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