Coffee heat rising

First Instacart Experiment: FAIL!

LOL! Well, ordering up stuff from Costco via Instacart did not start out on the most auspicious foot of all possible feet. 😀

So I jump through the hoops to sign up to Instacart. Once you establish yourself as an official human with an official charge card, you can navigate over to the store of your choice — they seem to be doing deliveries from every market in the city.

Once in the virtual store, I order up a few things that I need — not many, because this is a test run.

Among the discoveries:

  • Steaks are now way outside my price range. Check that off the list, right away.
  • They do not display “Coastal” cheddar cheese, which is the brand I favor. I order another brand.
  • Neither do they display blue cheese in chunks. Apparently most of their customers think of blue cheese as something that exists only in crumbles.
  • They’re out of flour, like every other retailer in town.
  • They do not carry cucumbers (but we knew that…).
  • But they do have a particularly wonderful brand of smoked salmon.

Whatever. I order up a bunch of stuff, including a package of apples, since the trees are almost out of oranges. When the orange season ends, I go back to eating an apple with breakfast.

Amazingly, their delivery arrives at 11:22 a.m. Yes: I ordered around 9 a.m. and they showed up over here before noon.

Also amazingly, apparently ringing a doorbell is not part of the delivery person’s job description. She dropped the delivery on the front porch and, since I don’t have a smart phone and can’t get texts, she e-mailed me.

Forty-five minutes later, I notice this e-mail. It is 102 degrees out there. Cripes.

So I fly to the door and drag the stuff into the garage, where I wash down every plastic-sealed goddamn package in detergent water before hacking it open with a pair of scissors.

Fortunately the cheese was not melted. That’s because, like most US-made mass-produced “cheeses,” it’s not cheese. So now I have a gigantic brick of tasteless orange stuff. Yuck!

This is not unexpected. However, here’s the jaw-dropper:

Costco sells its apples in plastic clamshell boxes. One of these boxes holds 12 apples.

What I got was a plastic bag that appears to have come with something that required measured dispensing — not a grocery store bag, but made of the same flimsy, environmentally polluting flyaway plastic. And, in there were nine apples.

I didn’t register this until I’d washed them and brought them in the house. And boy, was I annoyed.

So now I email Instacart to complain about this — after I’d already clicked 5 Stars in response to the lightning-fast delivery, even though I was also a little annoyed that the delivery lady couldn’t be bothered to ring the doorbell.

Forthwith I get back an annoying form letter. This morning a letter from a human arrived, saying they’re giving me a $5.49 refund.

Okay. So…that’s not too bad. This afternoon I’m going to order a few things from AJ’s, my favorite overpriced retailer.

So far, perusing the offerings…

  • Yes, they do have flour. King Arthur, no less!
  • Wine prices are prohibitive: they’re trying to get $15 for a bottle of Oyster Bay Sauvignon blanc. That’s an $8 wine.
  • On the other hand…some Bogle wines are only slightly inflated: around twelve bucks. That’s still too high for cheap wine…I can get my son to buy that for me.
  • They do not offer the chunks of blue cheese online…only crumbles.
  • They do have a couple of their good loaves of bread, which will spare me from having to bake it.
  • Apparently you can NOT buy fresh meat from AJ’s through Instacart. Fortunately, I still have plenty in the Costco lifetime supply.

However… If you order through Amazon, you can get blue cheese in a solid piece (assuming you don’t mind paying $15 a pound for it). Apparently Amazon doesn’t deliver wine.

However, Instacart does deliver from Total Wines. I haven’t looked yet to see what the charges are there. The best nearby place that I’ve found for cheap table wine is, incredibly enough, Walmart’s Neighborhood Market. That’s where I found the amazing Oyster Bay wine to start with. They also carry several other drinkable brands.

At any rate: this afternoon we’re at Instacart Experiment #2: I just clicked “send.” We shall see….

Making the Best of Self-Isolation

Planning a new strategy. As you know, I’ve decided I really love my house and want to stay here till I croak over. That decision taken, it’s time to begin putting in place a few mechanisms to make that possible. The self-isolation gig has spawned some services that may help with that project.

We already have the yard guy, the cleaning lady, and the pool guy. The C.L. is laid off for the duration of the coronavirus plague, but the other two are around. While I’m less than fond of housecleaning, it’s still easy enough for me to do.

But now, I think, might be a good time to get used to using grocery delivery services like Instacart. Old age or no old age, this coronavirus thing is going to be around for quite awhile. Those in the know believe we’ll see a second wave, and it’s likely to be ugly. Grocery shopping was never my favorite activity…so I’m thinking it would be wise to stay out of grocery stores as much as possible, whenever the lockdown ends. And make that a permanent thing.

So this week I think I’ll sign up for Instacart and try ordering a small set of items…

  • Some fresh produce: gotta know how well they can discern the difference between ripe, green, and rotten stuff. Some years ago, I tried Safeway’s order-out service. Total bust: apparently they consigned the job to stockboys who have never eaten a fresh veggie or piece of fruit in their lives. Most of the produce they brought was inedible.
  • Kleenex: M’hijito couldn’t find that on last weekend’s foray into the shopping jungle.
  • Sugar and flour: these also have been off the shelves for weeks.
  • Cucumber: good for making xergis, one of my favorite standbys.
  • Knee brace: put my knee out walking four miles the other day.
  • Lettuce: heads I planted are already bolting to seed
  • Cheese: staple breakfast food for someone who dislikes eggs, mush, and greasy meats
  • Smoked salmon: decent substitute for cholesterol-laden cheeses

Once I’m on their rolls, it will get rid of some inconvenience and save a whole lot of gas.

We’ll see what their shoppers can do with those. If it’s not a total bust, the plan is to continue doing this once every couple of weeks. Of course, I’ll still have to visit the various stores now and again, just to keep up on what they offer and where they stock it; I figure I could go to a couple of stores once a month or every six weeks, as long as I’m able to.

Get this started now, and then when I reach the point that I can’t drive to or hobble around a Costco, an important mechanism for maintaining independence will be in place.