Don’t Make Me Think

When I moved from the Chicago suburbs to a small town outside of Phoenix in 2004, I lived in a brand new house, but the rest of the neighborhood was still being developed. So for about six months I did most of my grocery shopping at a little place at the end of a dirt road cleverly called “Market.” I’d tie my Jeep up at the hitching post and stumble through the free range chickens to roam the four aisles selecting my goods. If I wanted milk, my only choice was 1%. If I wanted bread, my only choice was white. If I wanted wine, my only choice was Mad Dog 20/20. Filling my entire pantry took approximately six minutes – no thinking required.

Fast forward to yesterday, and my non-thinking self has transformed into a deer in headlights staring at the Great Wall of Toilet Paper in Target. The selection rivals that of the cereal aisle. Is it better to get an eight pack of double rolls or a six pack of triple rolls? Is a jumbo roll bigger than a triple roll? Do I want rippled or quilted? Is being dry good enough or do I want to be clean too? I spent a good fifteen minutes calculating my choices then finally snagged something with a happy bear on it – which, incidentally, is the same way I select my cereal.

So after walking out of the store with my twelve-count-double-roll-extra-soft-no-scent Starbucks-esque order of TP, I started to consider what I’d be getting back if I were willing to give up my freedom of choice:

Time: I spend more time selecting a toothbrush than I did purchasing my last car. If I could put those agonizing seconds of bristle density analysis back into my life I’d probably have that convertible I wanted.

Money: I’m the reason brands slap claims like, “now 3% awesomer” on their labels. I will absolutely fork over an extra buck or two for that 3%. I need to walk around knowing that my hair is 3% more shiny and my burger has 3% more real beef and my dishes are 3% cleaner. Do you want to eat off a 3% less clean plate?

Sanity: I refuse to eat at the Cheesecake Factory. Not only because I abhor cheesecake, but because perusing the menu requires the attention span of a Buckingham Palace guard. Take me to In-N-Out any day.

Thinking through everything from cell phones to cuts of beef is like selecting from a Zagat-rated wine list with no sommelier. While freedom of choice is something I support in theory, I sometimes wish I was around to enjoy simpler times – back when you picked the first caveman you met because you might not see another human in an eon or two, or when they only had one variety of M&Ms.

What are your least favorite choices to think through?

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About WhiteElephantInTheRoom

I'm an 80s music lover, traveling junkie, mac & cheese connoisseur, amateur wine snob, party-planning priestess and Chicago transplant living in Southern California. I find adventure in the everyday and have a unending compulsion to write about it. Hope you enjoy reading my mind!
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23 Responses to Don’t Make Me Think

  1. I feel your TP pain there lady! The sheer fact they have a whole aisle JUST for toilet paper is weird. Also…yogurt. Why so many? It’s just very solid milk that tastes good! I never shop without a list – for this very reason! x

  2. Pasta’s like that for me. And the thing is, I don’t like pasta so I’m never happy buying it to begin with. You brought a smile to my face with the MD 20/20. Back in college we used to throw that stuff in a beer bong. Ahhh, simpler times. (although that always brought up the debate of tylenol v ibuprofen v aspirin)

  3. Kendra says:

    I wish Costco gas stations had the equivalent of a restaurant hostess to tell me how long I’ll be waiting so I decide if it’s worth it. And as a color-blind person I refuse to believe there are that many shades of white paint at Home Depot

  4. It’s got to be the toilet paper. I can never remember which kind I like, I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to narrow it down and inevitably end up with a huge package of glorified sandpaper. Grrr.

  5. Alexa O says:

    Ack! Yesterday, my daughter was sick, so I spent 45 minutes standing in front of the selection of 1,000 medicines. 45 minutes. TP, on the other hand, is a non-issue. We just buy the actual sandpaper. It flushes better.

  6. Karen says:

    Suntan lotion…or spray? Spf 15, 30, 45, 60, 110 (yes, they make it with 110 SPF). Broad spectrum …UVA? UVB? Both? Helioplex? Coppertone ? Banana Boat? Walgreens brand ?

  7. TP is up there along with cleansers, moisturizers and sunscreen – oh my! Then there is the hair product aisle – can you say torture at times. Great Post – Happy Saturday!

    • The cleanser aisle scares me. It’s one thing if I accidentally buy extra hold hairspray when I really needed maximum hold, but I’ve had a few trips to the emergency room after odd allergic reactions to random face products. I miss plain old boring soap.

  8. I am incapable of deciding anything…. anything. So every choice is nearly impossible. I am with you on the menu thing, it takes me forever to make a choice. Even if there are only a small amount of things I would ever considered eating…. Life is tough man..

  9. I recently had the same thoughts while standing in front of the cheeses at my local Kroger. “What the heck is all of this?! They all look the same but have different stuff on the packages.” Sometimes — meaning, most times for me — it can be slightly overwhelming with the options at the grocery store. Just keep it simple and give me my extra hour in the store back.

    Oh yeah…I hate cheesecake, as well. I just wanted cheese for my burgers. I ended up at the newest In-N-Out Burger here in Indy. 🙂

    • I like to order my cheese like I order my wine – by color. This is usually only possible at Subway, unfortunately.

      • shortcutting says:

        Maybe this would be easier if you had a Home Depot style color selection booklet thing of shades of yellow, so you could ensure you got your ‘mellow yellow’ cheese rather than any of that ‘sunshine shower’ crap… Great post, and your replies to comments are even funnier!

  10. lunch meat for work…. you have to go to the store and then you have to decide between 104 different types of lunch meat that look pretty damn similar…. but you have to take into account that you will be in the office so it can’t have be very pungent but you also take into account what is filling and what you want now as opposed to later….. Just give me a damn sandwich and i’ll eat it!! thanks for the post it was really eye-opening to the amount of time consumed by indecisiveness!!

  11. Loved the perspective. You help me laugh at myself because I do the same thing! I’m such a easy sell 🙂

  12. susannairn says:

    I love your writing!! Thanks for the laugh.

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