I went to Aldi. It’s a bigger deal than you might think.

There’s an Aldi grocery store in the little city of Marshfield. I shop most most often at Festival Foods and I’ve been to the Pic N Save  and Super Walmart on a number of occasions for groceries, but despite frequenting the Menard’s right behind it and even the Applebee’s and Goodwill next to it, I’d never set food in Aldi.

About a year or so ago, Aldi put up a sign advertising open positions at a starting hourly rate well above minimum wage and Seth and I liked that– we thought maybe we ought to patronize Aldi to support their willingness to employ people for a living wage. And yet, month after month went by and I still hadn’t set a foot inside.

Why?

Honestly– because I was scared.

A grocery store is a ridiculous thing to be afraid of, I realize, but in addition to that bass (no treble!), I’m also all about that truth– and there you have it. I was scared to shop at Aldi.

Turns out, my fears were completely founded. I didn’t understand how the quarter-based cart release thing worked and stood there for what felt like an eternity (probably 45 seconds) trying to figure it out (think Zoolander, Hansel, and the computer), I somehow couldn’t find a pen in my purse (which contains pretty much everything else) so I couldn’t check items off my list which made navigating the unfamiliar store to find all of my items ridiculously challenging (up and down and up and down and up and down the same aisles over and over again– the store is not that big, I’m sure I looked like an absolute loony toon), and I didn’t understand how the after-the-fact bagging mechanism worked and was super confused by the ledge on the far well meant for bagging groceries after being checked out (also I dropped my bags on the floor not once or even twice, but three times– admittedly, that has nothing to do with Aldi and everything to do with me). So, basically, all of my fears came true– I didn’t know what I was doing, I was unprepared, I had a hard time navigating the store, and I looked stupid. (I did remember my debit card though– mini-win!)

Yet, here I am today. Surviving to tell the tale. The consequences of all my fears coming true? Negligible, save a bit of embarrassment, which in the grand scheme of things is pretty insignificant considering that I’m a 31-year-old woman walking around with two skinned knees and perpetually frizzy hair.

(I’m working on the frizzy hair though– I just brought the hair products that made Sister Athletic Trainer look this this!)

My hair was so huge I had to pin it up completely before we even went downtown-- Kayla's curls were perfection until the NEXT MORNING! Unreal!
My hair was so huge I had to pin it up completely before we even went downtown– Kayla’s curls were perfection until the NEXT MORNING! Unreal!

And after all of that, I will definitely be going back to Aldi again. Regularly. Because my grocery bill was ridiculously low AND I know that by shopping there, I am supporting a company willing that pays it’s employees a reasonable wage. But seriously, selfishly, the bill was so much lower. And the food, especially the produce, is just as good as any other store in town. (Ok, comparable to Festival, better than Pic N Save… I said it. I hate Pic N Save’s produce section. Hate it!)

All of that to say that Joan is right today. Right freaking on. Because change.

 “Change is the manifestation of our ability to grow and become.” –Anne Wilson Schaef

“I am still becoming: I am becoming myself — independent, different, free. Those are dangerous, unacceptable, qualities. They violate groupness. And yet, without this kind of change, can we possibly die adults? My problem is that this kind of change came so late and more in response to rejection than to process. But whatever the circumstances, the leap was worth it. I am not the person I was before. I am changed forever.” –Joan Chittister

Change is growth. And even little changes, little seemingly insignificant changes, like screwing up the courage to shop at a new grocery store, can be a big deal. Process, rejection, embarrassment and fumbling through– whatever the reason for change, change is growth. Growth is good.

Even though change is hard… and consequently, growth is hard. Worth it though, yes?

Especially because this particular change affected not only my actions (inexpensive groceries? heck yes!), but also my perspective– I saw a lot of predatory marketing at Aldi. Off-brand everything, but inexpensive Lunchables? That bothered me– those things are horrifying. It opened my eyes. And when I walked into Festival Foods immediately after completing my shopping trip at Aldi to pick up a few things I couldn’t find (and/or did not actually need, but wanted) I realized that I have definitely spent years paying the premium for appearance and space and little conveniences that are, all in all, not necessary.

Quite frankly, I’m lucky to have a choice of where I do my grocery shopping at all. A little gratitude never hurt anyone.

I recognize that it seems small, but to me… not so small.

 

Hopefully, when my hair changes, it will be small. Exaggerated WINK.

5 thoughts on “I went to Aldi. It’s a bigger deal than you might think.

  1. My first Aldi experience was pretty stressful too. At least you knew to bring your own bags. I was so excited by the low prices that I bought a cartful of stuff, then had to load each individual item into my trunk because I had no bags. Rookie mistake…

    1. Well, in my many months of preparation, I may have perused their website once or twice (or 15 times) just to make sure I really knew as much about it as I could before setting foot inside. Hence the bags. But I really love imagining you loading tiny little item and after item into the trunk of your car. That’s hilarious! It’s like a trip to Sam’s with 1) no Jerry Powell (boo) and 2) ridiculously small items (awesome).

          1. Perhaps you or I should end up with some sort of orthopedic injury next time we get together, yes? We can stop at Sam’s on the way to therapy for a nice 5 lb bag of chocolate!

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