March 4th, 2017

Berthold Run

Pattern recognition is a hell of a drug

As humans, we seek out patterns. We see patterns where they don't necessarily exist, and we can mess ourselves up that way.

I wouldn't go to a certain store because of a perceived pattern, not at all a real pattern but one I just thought was there: it seemed like soon after I'd go shopping at a Grocery Outlet, I'd get fired from a job.

I got fired from my Hoffman job the day after shopping at one. I got fired from my Fred Meyer/Kroger customer service job very soon after shopping at one.

THIS IS NOT ACTUALLY A PATTERN. It's not even a coincidence. But I let a sort of short-circuit happen in my brain and thought I go there, a job ends. A bad block for someone who tries to shop around for groceries and save money where possible.

So Friday afternoon I visited the Grocery Outlet about a mile south of where I live, to browse. Even just browsing seemed to be a good, needed gesture, considering what I'd managed to associate the grocery store chain with. I visited on the spur of the moment during a walk, and since I had none of my cloth shopping bags (my main bags nowadays, since Portland banned plastic grocery bags), I didn't want to shop just then. I just decided to remind myself I could.

I watched prices, some of which are better than where I usually shop, some of which are comparable. I was being observant. I needed that after thinking I'd been observant when I was seeing something that wasn't in fact happening.

I'll get back to Grocery Outlet sometime. Start to associate it with something other than what I'd associated it with before.