Creature of habit

Two weeks ago the sign on the front of our local Albertson’s store was removed and Ridley’s Family Market was hung in its place. I stopped going to the store. This was not because I’d heard anything bad about Ridleys, or because I felt an obligation to the vanished Albertsons. It wasn’t even that I expected everything to be different when I walked in the door. It was the simple fact that something familiar had been changed and now I had to think about it instead of being able to ignore the store name while I got on with my shopping.

I experience a similar feeling when a product that I use changes the packaging. I have to look twice to make sure that I am actually getting the thing I want because now it looks different. Sometimes I can’t even tell exactly what changed. I just know that it didn’t look like this before. Companies do this on purpose. They want to catch the eye of new customers while retaining their old ones. But as a consumer I’m taken aback when something that was so familiar I could ignore it, becomes something I must focus on.

I don’t have enough time to pay attention to every thing around me. If I pay attention to every package in the store, shopping would take forever. Instead I pay attention to a type of product once, after that I just buy the same thing again unless there is a compelling reason to change. This habitual behavior saves space in my brain for thinking about more important things like what I’m going to make out of this stuff that I am buying. I need my habits and routines. They keep me from going bug-eyed nuts.

So I avoided Ridley’s because going there would require me to think. I would have to process what was different about the store and what wasn’t. Instead I shopped at other familiar stores which had not changed their signs. This worked fine until it was time to renew prescriptions. We’ve always gotten our prescriptions filled at Albertson’s. They had our patient records. So I either had to go to Ridley’s, which would require me to think, or I had to go to a new pharmacy, which would require me to think.

I delayed for two days before finally trundling myself into Ridley’s. They used their computers to fill my prescriptions with no trouble, but they put the pills into a green bottle instead of an orange one. I’m certain that there is no innate superiority in orange bottles as compared to green, but my instant reaction was to dislike it because it wasn’t familiar. I’ll get over it. And I’ll probably shop at Ridley’s now that I’ve been inside, and done the thinking, and discovered that it really isn’t all that different than it was.

So that was today’s adventure in exiting my comfort zone. Tomorrow I shall take myself to a symposium where I will talk to many people that I have never spoken to before and I will love every minute of it because symposiums are supposed to be full of new things. I just like my grocery stores to be familiar.