Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Milk

I went grocery shopping on Monday. I just wanted to get the basics: milk, bread, butter, juice, water and the like. I decided to go out to Goodwill, the large (and only) "super" market in Georgia. I could have gone to the local grocer on the corner near my house, but I figured that I would be getting enough stuff to justify a trip all the way out to Goodwill, since they will take off the VAT tax if you show your diplomatic ID card (and the local grocers look at you like you have 2 heads if you try that).

So, I make the drive -it's about 15 to 20 minutes from my home when there is no traffic, 30 min when there is - and start to shop. Now, this is almost like a regular US style Supermarket. It has a frozen food section, a deli, a bakery, a dairy and produce section and even a little cafe in front. I hit the frozen food section first, as it is at the front of the store, then I move on to the dairy aisle.

At this point, let me interject something about buying milk in Georgia. You cannot get a gallon of Vitamin D enriched, homogenized milk. There is no MacArthur Dairy here. You could, if you were brave, get fresh milk from a local farmer. But I have seen the cows grazing in dumpsters here, so I tend to pass on most things cow-related (beef included). In the stores, the only types of milk that you can find are the ultra-pasteurized cartons of milk such as Parmalat. You know the kind, the milk in the little box that can sit warm on a shelf for a year or more. That's the milk I buy. Blaine and Dave don't seem to mind it and, as I don't care for milk, my opinion doesn't really matter (though warm milk on a shelf for a year squicks me for some reason). If the store is out of Parmalat, I will buy another brand. Boxed milk is boxed milk, I guess.

So, back to the story. I hit the dairy aisle, intending to pick up some cheese, sour cream, butter and, of course, 3 or 4 boxes of milk. One small problem. There is no milk. None. No Parmalat, nothing. Nada. Zip. I think maybe my Russian is failing me and I am just missing it and misreading the labels. I cruise the aisle a second time. Nope. No milk. There is creamer for coffee, there is "Malochko" which is like a milk-type product mixed with flavorings such as strawberry or banana. But no plain ol' milk.

At this point I conclude that "they" must have moved the milk out of the dairy section and onto the shelves with all the other drinks. So I cruise over to the drink aisle. I pick up the water and juice that I need and I look, in vain, for the milk. Up and down I go, scanning labels printed in German, Russian and Georgian looking for anything that resembles milk. Nope. Not here either.

I head back to the dairy aisle, you know, just in case the milk fairy has come and magically restocked the shelves in the 5 minutes that I have been gone. Nope. Still no milk. But there was an employee stocking the dairy, so I asked (in flawless Russian, I might add) where the milk was. Her answer? They have no milk. None. Not any brand or any type. All out. Don't know when they will be getting more.

How the hell does that happen? I can understand running out of some types of milk. Or running out of some specialty or seasonal item. But all milk? Every brand of milk? Who screwed up here? Did someone decide not to order milk this week? Was there a run on milk? Is there a milk shortage that I had not heard of? Really, I'm perplexed by this.

In the end, I still had to stop and shop at my local store. To buy milk. Which they had plenty of.

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