Posts Tagged ‘sensory overload’

I haven’t blogged about being an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person – take the test here) in a long time. I’ve been in a good place with no triggers for over a year, and that’s the way I like life to move. I like my job, I love the slow pace of small town living, I enjoy the lack of commute and stress. My routine is simple.

My routine is about to change. And I am not happy.

The grocery store where I do the bulk of my shopping is being closed. I like this store for a number of reasons: local beef, local milk in a glass jar, wide aisles, friendly staff who know me by my name, a pharmacist who really watched my back, wide (and clean) aisles, and a significant lack of fighting to get to food items on shelves. When this store goes out of business, I will be reduced to three local options (not including Grocery Outlet which sells things past their pull date & where you can never be certain of what is going to be on the shelves. Great prices, just no consistency): two big name grocers owned by the same corporation who purchase their beef from Iowa (which is OK, if you live in the Midwest and like grain-fattened beef – I don’t, on either count), and one big name grocer/retailer/warehouse style store.

Beef – we live in the heart of ranching country, for Heaven’s sake! Why would I buy something not grown within the State of Oregon and grass fed? I grew up on grass fed beef and have no desire to change. I used to shop at Albertson’s, but I never bought my meat there – I purchased it from a local grocer who bought 4-H beef from the kids in the county. In the years since, Albertson’s has changed management and ownership, and the local grocer went out of business. Safeway moved in, and Safeway is owned by Albertson’s.

I don’t like our local Safeway parking lot. This can be huge. I get that developers have to follow certain “rules” for “green spaces”, but the design for parking in this lot is all about concrete dividers and awkward angles. I even quit buying gas there because the last guy who pumped gas for me (hey, I live in Oregon, OK?) told me I had to get out of the car to pay.  I’m sorry – if I am not getting out of the car to pump my own gas (which I am not, in Oregon), why would I get out of my car to pay for the gas? Defeats the purpose of having someone pump my gas for me. Petty, but that’s how it is.

The third option – a Kroger/Fred Meyer – has followed the “warehouse” style of building and just going through the doors is a sensory overload. They do have local produce and beef, their prices are a little high (but so are the other options, locally), but they have great “loss leaders” (ads that draw you in and they lose money on). It’s just getting me through the doors that has my stomach in knots. It’s crowded. Narrow aisles. You have to jockey to get to things. Lines are long. I don’t mind shopping the other departments at Fred’s, but the grocery area is a nightmare of sensory overload for me.

There are options further out, and my extrovert friends are probably wondering why I don’t utilize them: WinCo, which is just over 5 miles from home and offers the following: narrow aisles, too many people, self-serve bagging. The pluses are: lower prices. In my book, the negatives just won. Oh, and I’d have to negotiate up Old Highway 99 with all the stoplights and traffic. And bag my own groceries. Did I mention I find that to be a pain in the behind? Bagging my own groceries. I consider that worse than having to pump my own gas! (Note: I live in Oregon. One of two states in the Union where we can actually pay someone else to stand out in the rain to pump our gas for us. I really hate it when I have to drive to Nevada and have to pump my own gas through California and Nevada. Can’t we just pay some poor schmuck to do that? I used to do that. it was a great entry level job.)

Costco. Warehouse. Thousands of people. Big carts. Warehouse. Great bulk prices. Warehouse. Sensory overload. No.

Super Walmart. Just.No.

Trader Joe’s. Darn – too far away to be feasible. Closest one is 13 miles away.

We have a Market of Choice within my preferred driving distance, but – and I mean a huge BUT – their prices are extremely high. Local meats, organic, great selection. Terrible parking (see Safeway). HIGH prices. Close to the Backyard Bird Shop where I purchase birding supplies. High prices nil all the benefits.

I’ll probably suck it up and go to Fred Meyer, but that presents another problem: Fred’s isn’t just a grocery store. They sell everything you need, like Walmart, only better quality. Or Target, only better quality. Clothes, furniture, paint, gardening, arts, toys, home, electronics. You see the problem? $$$$$ Because I can stand to be in those departments. It’s the grocery area where I get overwhelmed by the people, the carts, the lights, and the narrow aisles.

I think – and I may be wrong – for the non HSP, that none of this would be overwhelming. Just make a change. For me, it’s almost a life or death question. My routine is disrupted (Haggen, BiMart, home). I can change to buying a lot more at BiMart, but they are not a super store – they’re just a “general store” with a few items of everything that are nearly always cheaper than competitors: dry goods, electronics, paint, hardware, beer/wine, dog food, rifles & ammo, toys, home goods.

There are some products that our local Haggen sells that no one else carries: there are two local dairies who sell milk in glass bottles, pasteurized, but not homogenized (i.e. there’s still a layer of cream at the top of the bottle). It’s really good milk. I don’t drink much milk, but when I do, taste is everything. I grew up in a community with a local dairy and that mega-store produced milk tastes “off” to me. My husband loves the bottled milk. And they make the BEST chocolate milk, ever (must be chocolate cows).

I’ve been commiserating with co-workers. We all agree this is a tragedy. We’re scrambling to move our prescriptions. Some of us are agreeing that the only reason we shopped at this Haggen is that it’s never very crowded. We also agree that Fred Meyer is “sensory overload”. We’ll pay the couple pennies extra for groceries for the peace of shopping in a store that rarely has long lines, always has wide aisles, and where we know the employees by first name (and they know us).

We all wonder what will come in to replace the store: surely not WalMart? Our city council has a history of rejecting WalMart, but they also have a history of rejecting anything progressive. Maybe Trader Joe’s? Store is too big, but – Trader Joe’s has a location in Beaverton that is large & urban. TJ’s is kind of a specialty store and not always cheap. They’re the top choice. Whole Foods? Expensive, but I could price compare with Market of Choice…

Just not WalMart. Their practices of pushing out local businesses (like my beloved BiMart) are epic.

I get that this is not a crisis to the “normal” or “average” person. But to me: introvert, HSP… This is a crisis. Forgive me for curling up into a fetal position and asking God to “let it pass over”. I may even daub my door posts with lamb’s blood (oh, get over it. Sacrilegious jokes are a part of my childhood. My bff was Catholic & I was Protestant. Guess what our fathers told us to say at the other’s dinner table? Yeah. Some church joke). (And don’t ask about the whiskey jokes…)

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