It hit 22C on the second last day of my finals, and I was cooped indoors all day by work. Two days later it was back to freezing. Same today. The one good thing about such temperatures: I can buy frozen goods from Trader Joe’s and bike back without them thawing. Took advantage of that today. Originally intended to bike to the Lincoln Park TJ’s, but the wind was against me on the way north, and by the time I hit Illinois I felt highly disinclined to cycle the extra few miles north. Elected instead to park my bike there and then and walk to the downtown TJ’s. Turned out to be a longer walk than expected, and there were a lot of disgustingly cheerful tourists around. If I’d know it would be like that I’d have biked there instead, horrible traffic and all (not as though Lincoln Park traffic is great anyway). Passed by a newly opened Dominick’s on the way, and, since I’ve never been in one, decided to go in and take a look. Produce prices were cheaper than the Hyde Park Co-op but more expensive than Hyde Park Produce. Wider range of baked goods than TJ’s, but more standard American fare (nothing that was intriguing). Same for processed foods — wider range, but not as interesting as TJ’s, and about the same price-wise. So decided to head on to TJ’s.
Have to say the customer service at TJ’s is the best anywhere I’ve experienced. Even though I don’t usually care if people have a generally pleasant demeanour, it impresses me that their employees know which foods are good and will enthusiastically express their approval of our purchases (not before we have chosen them — usually at the checkout counter). It might be naive to believe them, but I know that all their stuff is excellent from consuming my past purchases, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the TJ employees share the same view.
Random TJ recollection: I saw Kuchen Meister liqueur cakes in TJ’s once (they seem to have disappeared now for some reason), and put one in my basket. To my astonishment I was asked for my ID at the counter. Not astonished that I look young, but that one needed an ID to buy a bloody cake, which is barely alcoholic. They don’t ask for your ID when you buy vodka sauce, after all. I said I didn’t have one with me because I don’t drive (which is true), and she looked like she didn’t believe me, but after glancing sceptically at the liqueur cake, decided to let it pass, and started talking to me about cycling in Chicago.
People always think I’m nuts when they find out that I’m willing to bike an hour just to get my groceries from TJ. They fail to realise how much the Co-op ticked me off with their inefficiency, their high prices, their awful customer service, their limited and poor selection of goods, and those two weeks last year where their computer system failed and we had to write down the prices of all our purchases on some silly form and hand it to the cashier, with the result that queues were twice as long as usual (and they were long enough to begin with). Besides, I would be out cycling anyway, and cycling is fun and free and healthy. Thank you CTA for making me wait one hour for the bus one day and causing me to be late for Andras Schiff’s recital. You kick-started my bike commuting lifestyle.
The jutting out curve off the bike path just south of 31st beach was stunning today. Blue sky, deep blue lake, still-yellow grass. And the usual lego skyline in the background. I wish I’d brought my camera with me then. Those colour combinations don’t occur too often — soon the grass will be green.