What We Lose by Hiring Someone to Pick Up Our Avocados for Us

Will the proliferation of mobile ordering destroy civic life?

Comments: 223

  1. I am sorry; I have loathed grocery shopping my whole life, even from high school when my mother would run into all her friends and chat after school on the way home. No one can say grocery shopping even comes close to rivaling a chance meet up with a friend at a coffee shop. It is a hideous experience and Sunday afternoons are the worst as everyone tries to get ready for the week ahead. No, I am good with someone else getting my red peppers whenever possible.

  2. @Meighan Corbett As with just about everything else in life, even grocery shopping is what you make of it. I learn a lot from chance meetings at the grocery store, as well as reconnect with people I haven't see in a while. I also get to find new foods to try, as well as find unexpected deals and stock up on some of our regular items. Even so, my trips there are quick and efficient. So a quick stop on the way home from work can yield unexpected little pleasures that I wouldn't be quick to give up.

  3. @Meighan Corbett you aren't alone, I don't like it either. And I am 61 years old. Ditto for the bank and the post office. Even as a little girl in a small town where everyone knew us, I never cared to go. I would rather do other things than these tedious chores. I like modernity where I do all my banking online, can order stamps online or buy them at Sams, and use all the self serve checkouts as I please. I reserve my energy for those engagements that are meaningful such as physical fitness and socializing with friends or creating art in my studio instead of waiting in lines at the darn post office. To each his or her own apparently.

  4. I agree. We seem to be heading inevitably to a future where half of us never get off the couch while the other half do all the household chores and going to the shops for them for little return. None of these gig economy companies pay a living wage or make a profit, they're making us fat and lazy, and yet they're supposed to be the way of the future. No thanks.

  5. @Craig Murray no that was the past when the wives were the grocery deliverers while the husband sat on the couch and enjoyed the TV. Now there are options and everyone seems to be morally outraged.

  6. I'll admit almost being run over several times by Instacart workers in Whole Foods who appear intense and crazed to fill their orders as quickly as possible. Don't get in their way! It's the changing world we live in - dominated by delivery. Online shopping, whether it's toilet paper, slacks, coffee or groceries has slowly taken hold and shows no signs of slowing. So, if all of these people no longer have to go to H&M, or Starbucks or Whole Foods to shop, what are they doing? They're online! Wherever I am, and for some reason, it's seems highlighted on the subways, everyone's on their phone. I like to take surveys on subways - the numbers typically average around 70-80% of the riders are fixated on their phones - like pacifiers. It's an addiction alright - and the fact we're losing a fabric of our societal interaction is just the results of change. Whether it's good or bad - it is. I'm from the baby boomer generation, and while I was the first of my friends to get Prodigy and use VisiCalc, I do not order online (for the most part) and do not use my phone as much as possible. But I'm the exception. I could go to Whole Foods at least 3-4 days a week.

  7. @JMS I miss the days when there was lots of eye contact. Esp in the grocery stores. It was a very good place to cruise esp for us gays. DC had a Safeway...it was known as the Social Safeway...the other one we just called the Gayway in Dupont Circle but I digress. I don't envy those who stare into cell phones all day long.

  8. @Scott when I lived in DuPont in late 90s the Safeway was referred to as the soviet Safeway because its shelves were empty and yet the lines were still interminable!

  9. @Ben funny, the Soviet (Social) Safeway was across the street from the newer USSR Embassy on Wisconsin Ave NW. I was there all thru the 90s...and survivied!

  10. i enjoy doing my own grocery shopping. However, since we decided to give up our car it's much more difficult. i walk a lot and am vegan so I shop nearly daily for fresh veggies. l have yet to get to Wegmans. Schlepping in an issue.

  11. Thank you for this article! I was wondering why the Whole Foods I shop at had suddenly become this warehouse where all these "shoppers" were pulling things off the shelves - not shopping but filing other people's orders. It has made grocery shopping especially unpleasant with empty shelves and jammed aisles. I have written to this Whole Foods to no avail- they said to kick the complaint up to Amazon. And unfortunately, with closing of smaller chain grocery stores around the city, this is my only option. I hate that priority of business is given over to people's sheer laziness.

  12. @Annie Agree completely. I really wish -- but I know they won't -- set hours (say, middle of the day only) for these surrogate shoppers so the rest of us could go back to enjoying shopping. We used to quite like going to Whole Foods.

  13. @JM Seems like you need to stop assuming that as well.

  14. @Annie if you want to spend your precious time shopping, go ahead. Others choose to live out whatever time they have left engaging in other pursuits that they may find more fulfilling than grocery shopping, or are sick and cannot schlep to the store. Your priorities are yours, others have different ones.

  15. In theory I agree that the constant expansion of on line shopping is a bad thing for our social fabric. However, grocery shopping in New York City is a literal nightmare. Maybe you live next to a Morton Williams or neighborhood store where you pay literally three times the price of what you should for every single item in your cart, or perhaps you schlep to a place like Whole Foods (which is what I do). There you navigate crushes of people in two foot wide aisles crammed with strollers where attempting to reach something off a shelf without physical injury is some sort of perverse sport. Then you stand in a twenty minute check out line before spilling the contents of your cart onto a postage stamp sized check out area and attempting to either wrestle your purchases into a pull cart or else dislocate your shoulders carrying it all home. By the time you collapse back at your apartment with your groceries, on line ordering sounds very appealing indeed.... And while I hate sharing aisles with all the Amazon fulfillment carts, their arrangement with Whole Foods has slashed the cost of groceries there for which I am very grateful!

  16. @Julie Boesky It's so sad how the disintegration of our social fabric is often justified by saving a couple dollars.

  17. @Julie Boesky A "literal nightmare"?

  18. Shopping at great grocery stores inspire me to get creative in the kitchen. I love food shopping. Heavy stuff like fizzy water and cases of beer I leave to Amazon prime delivery Good food shops are all around us in Seattle. Even as a child I loved shopping with my grandmother in NY. Loved it! I am so special!

  19. @Scott Me too! One of the first things we do in a new city is hit the local grocery stores. I live in an area that, while not Seattle or NYC, is blessed with a number of ethnic shops. I also love libraries and book stores. Browsing expands my horizons. I'm less likely to try something new shopping on line. (That goes for beer.)

  20. @Joanne Weaver My friend in Gettysburg PA goes from farm to farm collecting things...now that's living!!!

  21. Having contact with other humans is an innate need. I love the experience of talking to the baristas, the shop owners that I don’t get at big box warehouse stores where you can’t find anyone who knows anything about what they are selling to help when you need it. I want to try on shoes before I buy them & I like when the person there knows how they will fit & can make recommendations. I don’t want to buy online & have to return them, that’s more time than going to the store. I don’t have time to educate myself on everything I need to buy- online reviews are tedious and don’t address my questions & I also don’t know which ones are real. So I go to the local hardware store when I need to replace or repair things around the house & ask the older gentlemen who work there what I need. They immediately know what I need, where it is in the store & can tell me what I need to do. Why wander around the discount warehouse? What did I save? My time is more valuable, the big stores are farther away so I spent more in gas & time than the pennies I might have saved on a purchase. I also like talking to the hardware store guys, it’s like asking my dad or grandpa. And they appreciate my questions and me being there, they ask me how the project worked out the next time I’m there. The trick played by online stores & miles long warehouse stores is the seemingly endless choices but it’s a rabbit hole. Scrolling for hours to find the best deal alone is not winning.

  22. Recently I've noticed that everyone around me at my Whole Foods is a professional shopper. I guess it's what's done now, at least in my area. I feel a bit like a loser because I'm doing my own shopping, but I'm just not comfortable with someone else selecting my kale.

  23. @Petrichor Same in my area, Wegmans is more than 50% populated by phone drones. It's sad but I don't feel like a loser because I have that amazing ability named Inspiration, and I'm still able to come up with recipe ideas when looking at something I had no intention of buying or knowledge of in the first place. I don't see groceries shopping as a boring chore. I don't consider it a hobby or pleasant activity either but I know that if one day I also find myself checking boxes on an app in my couch something inside me will have died. In the meantime I will eat better and less boring stuff than my lazy neighbors.

  24. You're not 'a loser', Petrichor....perish that wretched word. You're a very normal lovable human being.

  25. Of course I could avoid having REO Speedwagon forced on me through a crackling speaker on the peanut butter aisle.

  26. Strong article. I've been telling my friends and family for years that digital technology would cause great injury to social bonds. Most of them agree. Some, like my brother, tell me to stop bothering him when he's on his phone. All that being said, I'm really intrigued by this statement from the article: "the friend I have been trying and failing to see since the last eclipse." There's a story here that's not being told. What happened during that eclipse to cause such estrangement? Did you fight over who got to use the eclipse sunglasses, or was it something more mystical, more helioactive.

  27. @Locho I think they were trying to say in a few years, but in a more literary, rather than literal way.

  28. @Locho - I suppose it only means that they met during the eclipse - that was a huge happening and gathering of people - but since then they had not had the chance to meet again. That's all.... I'm afraid. But your explanation is much more interesting and I suppose everybody who watched the eclipse together became nicely "helioactive".

  29. Great article. We are all becoming more and more disconnected from each other. Its all part of a smoldering mental health issue that will be a crisis in 10-15 years. At that stage, folk will be not able to relate to one another and I don't want to think what that will look like.

  30. @Kieran Cusack Arguably, that crisis is upon us.

  31. In certain cities, I could definitely see mobile ordering fray civic bonds/life. Namely places with a strong mass transport system or pedestrian friendly layout that offer at least some opportunities for interaction with other people on the way to and from there. I know it doesn't happen everyday but sometimes a chance event sparks a conversation and it brightens your day or ruins it but there's something to be said about both experiences. In other cities where the car dominates life to a huge degree (LA, almost every major Texas city, etc.), mobile ordering won't make a huge difference except in terms of traffic. Life is already atomized in such a place to a degree where there's nothing to lose in terms of social interaction because there is none already. Everyone's in their bubble of a car and at the actual destination no one's in the mood to talk but just to get the job done that required them to go there in the first place.

  32. I love Amazon, always have. But it is destroying Whole Foods.....quickly. Empty shelves, sub-par produce and the need to navigate around hordes of people wandering the store, while staring at their phones, gathering items to be placed in bags among a sea of parked shopping carts. I realize this is certainly a "first-world" problem, but really - exactly who is SO busy that they can't shop for themselves? Shut the TV off and leave the house.

  33. @D.DeMaio You've noticed that too? My local Whole Foods often looks as though it's going out of business. There's always something on my list that's out of stock. One item in particular hasn't been restocked in weeks, but it's available from Amazon - for half the price.

  34. Amazon has ruined the Whole Foods located in the middle of Amazon-land here in Seattle. Unpleasant lighting, fewer items stocked, the nice beer and wine bar never seems to be open, even during what used to be Happy Hour, in addition to annoying app-based shoppers.

  35. @D.DeMaio I agree 100%! Last weekend I vowed never to return to the WF that is closest to my house. Now I need to find another option. I think I need to go to Erewhon but it's so far from my house! I actually enjoy grocery shopping and do it almost every day on my lunch break to get provisions for dinner. I don't want to get groceries delivered but if it prevents me from having an in-store melt down it might be worth it..

  36. Back in the 90's I talked about this with people in the food business. Next wave home built with cabinets and refrigerators on outside walls to facilitate the service of unpacking your groceries. They would have doors on the outside with a code to open and lock the internal door, as a safety precaution. Or for those who have advanced alarm system today and kitchens near outside doors limit access to your home/apartment for unpacking services. We will live in a limited world of minimal human contacts.

  37. I'm getting over the flu and mobile ordering was a big help in getting good hot food into my house. Social bonding is nice, but it's also a way to spread germs. The delivery person leaves the bag on my doorstep. A lot of restaurants are small businesses and can't always afford to let sick employees stay home. That presents a bigger risk when you are presen than when you are ordering for delivery. Social bonding offers different rewards and risks depending on whether it's flu season or not. What would be REALLY nice is a mobile ordering company set up to deal with the flu-ridden, with a menu of hot soups and hot curries and tissues and lozenges and so on.

  38. @Patricia "What would be REALLY nice is a mobile ordering company set up to deal with the flu-ridden, with a menu of hot soups and hot curries and tissues and lozenges and so on." Especially with the current coronavirus making headway.

  39. @Patricia This is brilliant. I also have the flu right now and I don't want to go out to get anything so that I might expose someone else. But darn, I need another box of tissues and my doc just told me to take Pepcid which I don't have in my house.

  40. A few years ago, I made the difficult decision to leave NYC and install myself in a small village in the French countryside. I have never looked back! The pleasure and education I get from interacting with the butcher, baker, and local grocers is invaluable. Not only does it help my mood to have this interaction, it allows me to learn. I learn what cut of meat can substitute in my recipe, what vegetables are in season, how a certain cheese has been aged and why. When I go to the local cafe, they say hello, they bring me my favorite coffee with a simple, “the usual?” It’s not because they received my order from an iPhone, but because they know ME! I feel connected to the place I live in a way I never experienced in NY. This to me is luxury!

  41. @Lola Neighborhoods in New York used to be like that: Carroll Gardens [the old "South Brooklyn"], Astoria....in the 90s, I lived in both these places, and I knew the green grocers, the bodega prioprietors, the butchers, the pastry shop people, etc. It's not just a French thing....

  42. @Lola How was it a difficult decision? Kudos to you!

  43. Lola you made the right choice. Still all that info is trivially googlable.

  44. I like grocery shopping, and I wouldn't use a service like this now. But years ago it would have been great not to have to take three kids five and under with me if I ran out of something, or only shop after dinner when my husband was home, or burn my afternoon a week of babysitter time standing in line. I can also see this as being handy for those who have limited ability to drive for whatever reason. It's a good option to have available. Having said that the shoppers who do Target runs in my neighborhood act like they own the place and are not pleasant to be around.

  45. @Di ditto! When my kiddo was in the 0-2 years having this service was so helpful especially if my husband had to work late, and I already got the little one to bed. Shopping during my lunch break at work wasn't feasible either since I didn't live close to work. I don't use grocery delivery much any more now that I have a bit more flexibility and also because I like to pick out my own produce. But in those early parents years it was a great!

  46. @Di Last year, I sold my car. I am 88 and have decided that driving is not a wise option for me. I prefer to grocery shop myself, but under the circumstances, I now have Safeway deliver my groceries. It is very convenient and they carry the groceries up the stairs to my apartment, which is great. I have had some disappointments in the selection of produce, but they were minor. If you are able to go to the supermarket or grocery on your own, that's good, but for some of us, it is no longer an option.

  47. good grief. what the author describes as providing a lifeline of human connection is knocking on the door to my worst nightmare. i do not want to see people i know when carrying out everyday duties. i have no interest in seeing folks i work with during a quick run for more toothpaste. i feel i have enough - quite enough, thank you! - interaction with people whom i like but to whom i'm not close (coworkers, fellow public transit riders, former neighbors, etc.). i enjoy - and choose to have - contact with the ones i love most - family and friends. why must my attitude translate into social disconnection, dysfunction, and impending mental health disorders?!

  48. @Andie -- I remember my music teacher in high school telling us that she went shopping at a mall that was 45 minutes away from where we lived, to reduce the risk that she'd run into students or parents on her days off!

  49. @Andie Sometimes that is true. Like the other respondent as a teacher I would sometimes shop in another county to avoid having to run into my students. On the other had, I really miss my librarian. She knew me well and could recommend a book that she thought I would like. She was rarely wrong. Thankfully she was able to retire before they replaced her with a self service bar code reader who is unable to communicate with anyone at all.

  50. @Andie I agree. I think it is telling that article after article is admonishing that we need to socialize at the bank, the post office, the grocery store and "fill in blank here". No thanks. I don't need to shop to socialize. I have the skills to do that without stepping into a grocery store or going to the post office or Starbucks. I prefer to carefully curate my socialization and like online services to take care of the admin part of life. If there are self checkouts at the store, I use them. I don't need to talk to a cashier. I also do online banking and avoid going to the post office at almost all costs. That saves my energy and efforts into something that is real and valuable to me - such as socializing with people I do physical fitness with, my family and few close friends, gardening and artistic meanderings.

  51. I enjoy going to Trader Joe's, where the employees are happy and friendly, but I won't go to a giant supermarket like Safeway or Kroger for anything. Ever. Certainly not for social interaction. The employees don't know where anything is, and while I could buy frozen topping in varieties like Cool Whip original, extra creamy, low-fat, chocolate and mint, alongside the same things with the store brand, I can't find a bag of frozen peaches. At checkout, my choices are standing in a long line to be checked out by sloths or scanning my own purchases. If not for TJ's, I'd shop online.

  52. @Randy shopping is all about personal preferences. I do not care for shopping at Trader Joes. Here is why: Every single one I have been to - San Diego, Ann Arbor, Asheville, Washington DC, you name it - the parking is a nightmare. Secondly, the store has a crowded, chaotic feel. It is unorganized. I prefer large grocery stores, well lit from above, with a conveyor belt for well organized groceries and wide aisles. I will take a Kroger, Safeway, Harris Teeter, Hannaford any day over Trader Joes. I simply don't care for the TJ shopping experience. To each his own.

  53. OK, so let's stop using shopping services and all the people who are earning too little from Instacart can ... can ... well, can go back to not earning anything from Instacart? Can earn minimum wage at a job that gives them zero flexibility, instead of a little? I cannot remember the last time I actually ENJOYED being in a store, or any kind. Every hour of my life that I gain back to do things I enjoy, instead of doing a chore, is a plus for me. Sorry, but I don't go to the grocery store to have positive social interactions with strangers. Really, I'm just there for the food.

  54. There are so many personal shoppers at Whole Foods that I’ve stopped going. I understand that they have to do it quickly but I didn’t appreciate the game of chicken that they played with shoppers. Hey, I’m a nyer and stand my ground and they always back down, but it’s annoying. Now I shop at Wegmans because it’s closer and the employees are helpful, yet not faux friendly like at Trader Joe’s. And while they don’t have as many organic products as Whole Foods, it is cheaper.

  55. Isn't the person that's picking up your groceries now experiencing the "human interaction" that you described? It's really just substituted with another individual. There are people with real time constraints that benefit from this technological innovation. It's a really tired argument that people keep making against it.

  56. Exactly! I'm housebound with a disability and friends that used to be available to help have moved to other states, etc. Rather than subsisting on takeout, I can now get fresh food: vegetables, fruit, bread, etc. And one of the best things about the service? The people that I interact with! Without delivery service, I would hardly get to talk to anyone in person. The concern that I have about this service is not that I can't browse through a store, but about the pay of the those who do the work of the delivery services. Some stores use in-house workers to prepare a number of orders and then a different person delivers. Some have one worker fill the order and deliver it. In either case, all those doing the work need to be adequately compensated (and not forced to rush quite so much).

  57. This article brings up some good points but I don't think the issue will remain for much longer. Whole Foods and Wegman's provide heightened shopping experiences with lots of friendly staff and really nice stores in expensive locations - some may argue this but compare them to a second tier grocery store and the differences are obvious. It doesn't make sense to incur those added costs when a large percentage of their customers aren't even visiting and benefiting from the store. The personal shoppers wandering the stores seem like a short term fix - it would make way more sense for that location to be in an industrial setting somewhere and for the items to be selected by a machine. I've watched personal shoppers navigate the store and while some are good at it, most are very inefficient. This doesn't seem like a phenomenon that will last in its current iteration. My guess is that these stores will soon shrink their footprint and move the home delivery/personal shopping operations somewhere else.

  58. In Chicago, we've utilized Peapod, Instacart, and Jewel's shopper/delivery service. None works as we expect it to, primarily because the shoppers don't really do a good job with picking out our groceries. To be honest, I don't really expect them too. I guess. I wish they'd do better. We don't own a car. I typically walk to the grocery store, and carry groceries home. We used to rent cars occasionally, for this or that errand, and would always go to the grocery store before returning the rental. Now, with Uber and Lyft (which also are a decidedly mixed-bag, in terms of overall social good), we don't rent cars too often, either. When we are out of heavy and/or bulky things (laundry detergent, paper towels, toilet paper), we will order from a delivery service. Otherwise, I'd prefer to shop myself.

  59. I don't go to the hardware store or grocery or other such vendition sites for social interaction; I go there to buy something. Having someone else buy and deliver my avocados or meat or other fresh food items is not something I would ever do because I am very fussy about the quality of food I cook and if the avocados (or whatever) are too squishy or damaged I will buy something else. However, for a box of cereal or can of soup or similar item I couldn't care less whether it is delivered by Instacart or Amazon or some other service. I am retired so I have plenty of time to go out shopping; however, I rely heavily on delivery services for everything except fresh foods. This allows me to spend time on more enjoyable pursuits, keeps me out of traffic, saves on gasoline and reduces air pollution. As for Instacart, it provides jobs for people with skill sets that match the task at hand; nothing wrong with that.

  60. @Mon Ray I don't think it actually reduced pollution because SOMEONE has to deliver those groceries. You're just not producing it directly.

  61. @DSW The delivery person delivers multiple orders in one trip, which almost certainly makes the cost/pollution per order less than if each purchaser drove to and from the store to pick up and return with the goods.

  62. @DSW what is more efficient here. One delivery truck delivering to 30 of your neighbors, or 30 of your neighbors all getting into their personal car and heading to the store?

  63. Just home from the supermarket! I saw my former work friend Josh, and we caught up for a bit. Maybe I enjoy grocery shopping for the same reason I still listen to the radio. Rather than piped in music tailored to my particular tastes, I risk hearing and new Lizzo song or an update on local events. Life is fun. Get out there and enjoy it.

  64. @Pete Exactly!

  65. To go to the supermarket/food store/market i either get on my bike or walk (exercise). I usually see someone I know there - even if its a quick nod of the head and hello. I also speak to strangers, usually by the vegan foodstuffs. Sometimes when I need "big stuff", I go with a friend who has a car - we consider it our date. Sometimes we dance in the aisles. Food delivery means more trucks and vans on my once quiet residential street, so really why would I encourage that? So delivery (unless sick without friends to help me)- no thank you.

  66. Sorry, but as an introvert who gets anxiety from the sort of small talk one is expected to engage in at grocery stores and the like, I am happy to see the proliferation of mobile ordering and delivery services. Not everyone wants to socialize every time they walk out their front door, and now thankfully I can leverage these services to avoid meaningless chit chat at times when it would have a negative impact on my mental and emotional state.

  67. @Phedre Hi, I am an introvert, but I try to go outside of my comfort zone, in daily life, such as getting coffee etc.I love my local co-op and that the same people have been cashiers forever. I get a chance to interact and laugh, and then walk away. No huge investment, just treating people with enough friendliness that they feel respected and relaxed. It is easier for me to have these casual interactions than to have a friends lunch,movie whatever, which does agitate and stress me out. :-)

  68. @Phedre I hope you're getting some help for your issues. It sounds pretty debilitating.

  69. We are using AI, robots, and Apps to make our life more efficient so we can streamline all activities to work more. Hmm, isn't that what the AI, robots, and Apps were for, so they would do the work to free us up for more leisure, fun, and human connection?

  70. @Frank Wait until one takes care of you while your sick.

  71. This is a ridiculous article. If grocery stores and coffee shops are where the author catches up on her social interactions and society news, she has a severe problem of prioritization in her life. If you want to meet your neighbor, go over to their house or invite them over. Why do you need to meet at the coffee shop? And why do you need to hear gossip such as "scandalous potlucks"? When I go to a grocery store or coffee shop, I just want to get my stuff and get out without having to be bothered to speak to anyone. I don't talk to the baristas nor do I have an in-depth conversation with the checkout person. I don't really care what's going on their life, and I don't want to share details about my like with a stranger. If there is someone I want to maintain a social interaction with, I will set up a time to meet with them. There are many venues for meeting people; the grocery story is not one of them. Online ordering and delivery is great because it allows people to get more done in the same amount of time (increased productivity) and it allows parents to spend more quality time with their families. The author needs to realize such aspects before making such ridiculous statements.

  72. @PK Respectfully, I think you miss the authors point. We may not share the intimate details of our life with the barista but it is a level of interaction with the outside world that we are slowly removing. Not to mention the promotion of the slave-wages being paid to the person shopping for you. Plus, do we really need to increase your productivity so much that an hour of shopping is problematic? Or 5 extra minutes waiting for our coffee? Is our only purpose in life to "produce" and "consume" like a cog in some Marxist-predicted-distopia? I think it's worth considering all of these little things that bit by bit make us less human.

  73. @Josh Well said. My thoughts exactly. All the comments on here about not being interested in interacting with baristas or check out people, to not be in the world and look around you, only wishing to get, and as quickly as possible. And then what, more time to scroll on your screen wondering why you feel so anxious and depressed and alone?

  74. @PK Pretty sure the author acknowledges how this meets many people's needs. But I am with her on this living in Chicago and NYC where indeed I would love to knock on my neighbors' doors, or arrange to meet up with friends but if you're new to an area (as I am to both cities) maybe the only people you "know" or "see" on any given day are the people that work the checkout or make your coffee. The simple kindness of someone acknowledging your existence in any form is why I go to the store when I don't really need groceries or why I get coffee out when mine at home is cheaper and nicer. An absolute basic need met in whatever way you can arrange for yourself, I'm not going to belittle anyone's desire for even this very limited connectedness. I've moved everywhere and every move is getting much harder as people rarely look up, rarely have their headphones out of their ears and you get the idea. I'm a Midwesterner and if needed, aggressively friendly but the return on my efforts has been so low and the opportunities so limited that I'm not thinking people out and about during my day might become friends, but rather I'm just hoping someone looks up and sees that I am there.

  75. Wait, what? I can have people do my grocery shopping for me for a reasonable fee? Holy cow, thank you! I'm totally signing up for that and freeing up a precious hour or two of my weekend.

  76. grocery shopping in New York City is like grocery shopping in a post-apocalyptic, Mad Max-esque dystopian Chernobyl. the stores are filthy, crowded, and the workers are beyond rude. Then there is the problem of how to schlep the groceries home which adds more to the cost of already inflated NYC priced groceries. shopping through your phone makes most sense unless your a masochist.

  77. I recall some years back an interview with Prince Harry, and long before his official departure from the Royals, he commented something along the lines that even if he was King, he would still do his own food shopping.

  78. It is important to keep in mind that these grocery delivery services have been really useful for the disabled and home bound. I am single and was trapped in my home for 2.5 years with a disabling condition and that is when I began to use them. I am better now and prefer the better selection, lower price, and exercise of walking the massive super market or farmers market but; if I have a flare up, these grocery delivery services (around here Giant [Peapod], Whole Foods/Amazon, etc.) keep me alive or, at least eating fresh foods versus beans and frozen food. I do seem to only get horrible tomatoes and the bread selection stinks! The average is one item in my order is wrong too. The other average is that they are out of, usually, two items (often the two I need!). It does not matter when you place the order. There is no seniority in what you get. I placed an order at 2PM to be delivered from 7-11PM the next day. They still were out of two common things! Another time I did it last second later after noon, got a small early next morning delivery window and, they were still out! This is still a startup industry IMO (despite it being old as milk and eggs being delivered by horse cart!) They need to TRAIN pickers on how to pick customers the best tomato, best celery, etc. Right now, it does not seem that way. And they need to work on better bread selection like, low sodium options, etc.

  79. @Mr. Point That point is made in the article near the end.

  80. I agree so much. Last week I ran into a neighbor in the grocery store across the street. After comparing notes about the new shop, we strolled home together. I was invited to her birthday brunch in a couple of weeks; I mentioned a get-together I plan for neighbors soon. At a different grocery store the previous week, I ran into a couple who also live in my building. On the way home I was greeted by the hairdresser, the dry cleaner and the owner of the dry-goods shop. (OK, we waved and smiled.) Small interactions that make my part of a city with 8 million residents warm and humane. We don't need to have a lot in common except that we share a neighborhood, one we all enjoy.

  81. Another way people put themselves in a bubble. Let someone else take care of all the little deeds of the day so that they can spend more time agitating on blogs or twitter.

  82. @Delepp well, perhaps people are engaging in other activities than blogging. Maybe they are creating art, engaging in physical fitness, caring for a sick spouse, getting medical treatment, working, caring for children and a thousand other activities that may take precedence over grocery shopping. Why did you assume those people are doing nothing but "agitating on blogs and twitter"?

  83. Marketplaces are one of the oldest features of civilization. Clearly they facilitate not only the exchange of goods, but the also the exchange of ideas and social interactions of all sorts from hugs to important information gathering to "meaningless chit-chat" to pickpocketing. They help make us know what it is to be human.

  84. Even when I go for groceries, I am in and out. I am not there to socialize or make friends. Yes, I do engage in pointless chitchat with checkout person and I am okay with not doing that. I love grocery delivery.

  85. @Purota Master Well, I guess that was the point here. That "pointless chitchat" that would be OK with you to forego is just the simplest interaction that creates and maintains community, that reminds us that other people outside of our immediate orbit exist.

  86. When I had young children, going to the markets in our nyc neighborhood were delightful expeditions: educational. fun, and yes, an occasion to meet our neighbors. These excursions were welcomed by all, and typically included one child in the stroller seat and one standing on the back. We'd gather bag after bag and carry them home, hanging from the handles of our sturdy umbrella stroller. Surely such fun still exists!

  87. @pkenny AGREE! I never understood the need for a child care drop off in a local Shoprite until a mother explained to me that mornings were spent at the local YMCA working out with her children in child care. Next was the supermarket where her children were once again dropped off while she and her friends had coffee in the market’s food court and picked up just enough groceries to make it appear that they were rightfully using the service for the hour. It was then lunch and naps. This was her group’s 21st century parenting. Like you, I’m left with fond memories of shopping with my children. Not saying I was a better mom, just different.

  88. @Molly Bloom It can be great to shop with the kids. It's also nice not to have to every single time, too.

  89. Many can choose a life which doesn't require a pause to "smell the coffee," or the roses, for that matter. But I, for one, almost insist on feeling the avocados for degree of ripeness, seeing the bananas, checking the expiration dates, deciding what cut of meat makes the most sense that day; and on and on. That way I also get to control what goes into my body and how it's going to taste. I'm interested in assimilating into society in multiple ways by just getting out. Otherwise, with people glued to their screens, it seems most would be just as comfortable living insulated in their closets.

  90. I believe that the third place is vitally important to our society's success. By fostering more third place interactions rather than decreasing them, I believe we may alleviate some of the entrenched divisiveness observed in our national politics as well as combat the rampant loneliness experienced by many. The casual interactions we have with others in the general public as we go about day create opportunities for us to check in with one another and connect with a shared time and place. Unfortunately, I believe that those in Silicon Valley only see the time saving and at-our-fingertips' convenience that their products offer as holistically good. Overlooked is the ubiquitous business model that forces technology companies to depend on poorly paid independent contractors to fulfill our fingertip commands and the diminished everyday human interactions that their products inevitable result in. In my opinion, Silicon Valley's misguided zeal for code base problem solving in all instances has led to end of the third place. I hope I am wrong.

  91. Funny, i repeatedly encounter this at a Whole Foods where i shop. There are some days when one literally can't be in the store, the herd of the very large shopping carts is so thick and the race to shelves so frenetic. It's really sad, since i really like shopping, food shopping that is. And it's not at all for socializing...It's part of the pleasure of eating. Markets can offer a beautiful display of things, produce and flesh and a world of possibilities and they tempt the eye and the brain and while i suppose it's just too bad that people have no time for it, or no interest, the distressing part of it is that that turns the place into a warehouse of robotic gathering and the pace and the simple food voyeurism of the place is lost.

  92. I live on the Upper West Side.There used to be lots of markets of all types but now only crowded, congested Fairway on 74th and buried in the basement Trader Joe's on 72. I don't enjoy shopping in either. Furthermore I am in my 70's and they are too far to be convenient. So I use Food Kick and Fresh Direct. Their products are excellent and backed up by a money back guarantee, and I don't have to schlep. Win win.

  93. Personally, I like doing my own shopping. I also like perusing what is on the shelves. I have used Fresh Direct years ago, when I was recovering from an injury - but I discontinued once I was on my feet again. I tend to shop in the smaller markets , to avoid the crowds- hence no Whole Foods for me. I do use Amazon, but only for things that I can't find in stores. Do your own shopping when you can, it is better for the environment and for yourself. Human beings were meant to interact with each other.

  94. It baffles me that these grocery delivery services aren't required to function out of a warehouse designed exclusively for the employees/shoppers. That Whole Foods in Gowanus... Battle zone.

  95. @Anna I was told by the check out person at a local Stop and Shop that the groceries that Peapod delivers on their behalf DO come out of a warehouse. Like the author, more and more, I’m running into Instacart shoppers in Wegmans.

  96. I have a toddler and I'm so tired all the time that I am grateful for the delivery services bringing groceries to my door. I always tell the nice person bringing a week's worth of chicken, veggies, cat litter to our door, "I'll tip you in the app." And I do so because if you have any kind of disability where it is hard to schlep 25 lbs of groceries around without a car, you are thankful for these modern helpers.

  97. Silicon Valley only sees dollar signs not people making ordinary conversation at an establishment. There is no shared sense of community.

  98. Agree agree agree. I think of a couple of lines from Harold and Maude - Harold: You sure have a way with people. Maude: Well, they're my species! Let's get out and enjoy each other in the real world.

  99. As if our addiction to online info, and phone orders to keep us stretched watching our favorite program, wasn't enough to isolate each other from real social intercourse, now we are caught in an isolationist move that we may repent from sooner than later. I know we talk about poverty as a violence a capitalistic system imposes by promoting an odious inequality; but depriving ourselves from interacting with a real live human, with a smile (or not) to greet us...and make our day, is an insult upon injury...if you stop to think about it. But thinking isn't necessarily what makes us who we are, but the emotional feeling towards each other, lost forever on devices supposed to ease our lives...and not isolate our by- now awfully lonesome adventure. All to save a minute of our precious time...even if we do not know what for or why the rush to be elsewhere...when, at the end, we end up with our lonely selves.

  100. I love grocery shopping and do it 4-5 times a week. I like discovering a beautiful new vegetable or getting the ingredients for a recipe I found online. As for 3rd places, I would argue that following Instagram accounts such as one called Bungalower for the downtown Orlando crowd, substitutes as visiting 3rd places. On a daily bases I read about restaurant openings and closings, new businesses, important local obituaries, traffic issues and weekend events. You can leave comments and questions that usually receive quick responses. I know it's not the same as chatting it up at a coffee shop, but it's pretty close.

  101. I will be glad to use Instacart or any other grocery system the moment I am too old or infirm to be able to do it myself. As long as I can walk competently and drive competently then I prefer to pick out my own groceries. Who knows what's new in a store that you might like after all?

  102. I wholeheartedly share these concerns about social isolation.

  103. I used the Walmart delivery to send groceries to a far-away, ill friend. It was a godsend for him because he had no car and, because of his illness, no money or job. It was one of the nicest things I've ever been able to do for somebody. The service can be wonderful if you're sick, disabled, or you need to help someone out who is far away.

  104. @BambooBlue I often use Walmart delivery for non-grocery items like paper towels, toilet paper, batteries, OTC pharmacy products like shampoo, toothpaste and mouthwash. Even dog and cat toys. I've only been to one Walmart in person in my life and prefer never to do that again. Walmart's "same day" free delivery service is extremely reliable (they do a beautiful job of wrapping fragile things to prevent breakage or leaking), I've learned that if I purchase routine purchases like toothpaste, Cepacol throat lozenges and toilet paper from Walmart, I save about 20-30% per item compared to the price of the same items in my local drug stores. My experience ordering online from Walmart for the past 2 years is 100% satisfied.

  105. Every day it’s seems to be a sadder and lonelier world.

  106. OMG. I don't even like it when my wife does the grocery shopping; I can't imagine letting a stranger do it for me.

  107. @BKLYNJ D And don't ever let someone pick out your avocados for you. the results are never good.

  108. I live 3 blocks from a mega Whole Foods in Philly. Since Amazon took over, I call it the Monster. The coffee area is gone now, favored by the Amazon lockers. Soon, the people will go too, unless you’re important. Don’t get run over by a “ professional” shopper while negotiating the prices.

  109. They are trying to do this with medicine as well. "Virtual hospitals" are springing up and my insurance provider is trying to tempt me to skype instead of using urgent care.

  110. @Spencer Yeah no, Perhaps on a much different scale but the moment my oncologist palpitated my tumor and said "I like how this feels" I got a huge reminder that medicine is as art as well as a science - I want a doc or nurse who can see me in person and touch me if I am sick

  111. If you don't like the trend, vote with you feet and do physical shopping. Patronize and delight in local food markets. If you do so, they will thrive. Technology will be here to stay and will provide a new alternative to those who seek it.

  112. I get so mad when the line at Chipotle stops moving so that the staff can prepare umpteen online orders. When did the app people take priority over the people actually in the restaurant? But this is apparently how the game is now played. So when I find an unexpectedly long line at Chipotle, I take out the app, place my order (it knows my regular one), and return in 15 minutes or so for my food.

  113. @Ben Taylor I agree. Though I fall into the starbucks category. I'm there, in person, yet I watch them trip over themselves to create cup after cup for people who aren't even there. It's so frustrating to finally have my simple drink given to me only to find it's wrong then be told that they'd fix it but it's really easier to order on the app. It's not. I like to pay with this crazy thing called cash.

  114. @Ben Taylor Some of them have a complete extra prep counter for outgoing orders.

  115. People say one thing but do another. Yes we crave companionship and connection but not at the expense of convenience

  116. The loss of human-to-human interaction hurts extroverts more immediately, but it hurts introverts even more in the long run. Extroverts will always find a way to get their people-time, but introverts will be enabled to crawl into a solo shell and never interact with another soul, which can't be healthy. Sometimes society needs to pull us out of our preferred impulses.

  117. I was in NY last week to help my daughter move in on the upper west side. It has been 35 years since I lived in the city and was well versed on grocery shopping and then having my order delivered or taking it home in a bubbie wagon. However, what I did not anticipate enormous lines at checkout at Fairway. I had to leave without my selection as I had a mover coming in 30 minutes and neither the manager or customers were willing to help me out. I then went home and placed a $200 order on instacart from D’Agastinos! Groceries arrived in three hours and all items, including produce and poultry, were in excellent condition. As one who likes to hand select, this was a pleasant surprise! I can see why a working person would resort to ordering over dealing with the nightmare of dealing with crowds and lines.

  118. It's no wonder that Amazon Prime and Fresh Direct have prospered in NYC - it's simply convenient. For those who insist on shopping themselves, you need a car or an Uber to carry all those deals home, just like in the suburbs. It's not like walking into the local Key Food a few times a week because it's a block away, or going to the Farmers market for produce. Whole Foods and Wegmans in Brooklyn have decreased "third place" businesses such as independently owned cafes, bodegas, bakeries, butchers etc. Starbucks, with its shopping mall ubiquity, adds to this problem.

  119. It's no wonder that Amazon Prime and Fresh Direct have prospered in NYC - it's simply convenient. For those who insist on shopping themselves, you need a car or an Uber to carry all those deals home, just like in the suburbs. It's not like walking into the local Key Food a few times a week because it's a block away, or going to the Farmers market for produce. Whole Foods and Wegmans in Brooklyn have decreased "third place" businesses such as independently owned cafes, bodegas, bakeries, butchers etc. Starbucks, with its shopping mall ubiquity, adds to this problem.

  120. I cannot believe that this is a serious article. In a city with millions of people you think that you will be isolated if you don't get in your car, drive through (and contribute to) traffic, and then wait in line to have a trivial and instantly forgotten exchange with a stranger? Do you need suggestions on activities that will put you in contact with people in a meaningful way? Someday--when electric vehicles and delivery services have liberated us from the need to drive all over running errands--people will look back at this griping and just laugh at the foolishness of it all.

  121. A great pleasure I enjoyed when my aging father could no longer drive, was taking him to shop at the local store he had always gone to. We would work off our shopping list, and he enjoyed being able to get out and "get things done". Always friendly in a cheerful and respectful way to the checkers, he was consistently greeted with with "nice to see you again". Once I came around the corner of an aisle to see that he was helping a shorter person by reaching up to an item they needed from a top shelf. I will never forget how much I loved him in that moment.

  122. @Marika H I had similar experiences with my aging mother. She loved to cook. Which meant she loved to shop for groceries. And for her last few years we actually did most of her shopping at the WF in her neighborhood. It used to be a pleasant experience. But for all the reasons already mentioned in other comments, if she were still alive, we wouldn't be doing her shopping at the current incarnation of WF.

  123. Strangely enough- We have almost completed a full circle. Of all places- New York City is the place I think of when I think about deliveries. Before we had a Starbucks, on every corner, and before grocery stores were the size of football fields- Most everything you needed could be delivered. Many here might even remember the milk man! Oddly enough the post office still seems to think we need mail delivered six days a week-even though it loses millions of dollars every year in doing so. What is going to happen is the return of higher expectations when one does bother go out. An example; The return of the high end department stores that strive to make the buying experience more personal will become far more common. The trouble with the ability to buy anything -online- and have it at your doorstep with an hour- is that, sooner than you think, you will have much fewer choices to chose from as retailers. Stores from Walmart to Macy's are already closing their huge boxy one size fits all stores and other retailers are ending to fail to change with the times. Soon stores with have exclusive clothing/food/item lines and, with less competition, prices will go up and millions of people will be losing their way jobs to automation. The ending result won't just be about the destruction of civic life- but the stronger, thicker divide between who can buy what and where can they buy it. New York City of 1928 is starting to look very familiar.

  124. I laughed when I read " The incursion of technology into every aspect of consumption has meant that only the indolent or pathologically tolerant wait for things". Who? The phoneless and the homeless?" But not so funny is the continuing expansion of both the underpaid-underclass and social isolation. If a living wage was a right, moneyed people would have to try a little harder to do things for themselves and the economic ecosystem would not be so toxic.

  125. I cook so I shop for food. I garden, I grow food. I forage, I hike for food. II show respect for our food. I cook in season, we keep a compost, we do not waste the gift of food. I do these things not because they are easy but because they sustain my life, show respect for creation and sustain the health of those I love. If I assign these tasks to strangers, I remove myself from the chain of life. Money is not as important as this. "Free time" is not as important as this. What is free time anyway but the time we have to choose what we're doing. There is no more important task than feeding ourselves. We remove ourselves from life when we outsource this task. It's a kind of insult to life to give that task to someone else in exchange for money. We should be beyond that by now. This is not a task that should ever be assigned and it's a job without dignity. We need better work for more people. We're not going to get it by creating a servant class to meet even the most intimate of needs. It's no different from royalty hiring a wetnurse, or assigning one, to feed their children. There is something deeply amiss in a culture where people spend their time streaming programs like Chef's Table on their phones while working out to lose weight on a treadmill and expecting instant food delivery with no effort on their part. We are a culture in decline, sick, and getting sicker. And this is one of the symptoms.

  126. @Stephanie I feel like we're in a new Gilded Age, with upper middle class and wealthy people seeing an increase in convenience due to the number of people they can pay peanuts to act as "servants" while others scrounge to survive and barely manage.

  127. @Leah couldn't agree more. And it's not good for anyone involved.

  128. @Stephanie "There is no more important task than feeding ourselves. We remove ourselves from life when we outsource this task. It's a kind of insult to life to give that task to someone else in exchange for money. We should be beyond that by now. This is not a task that should ever be assigned and it's a job without dignity. " Isn't this kind of what we do when we buy food from farms via grocery stores or farmer's markets? I see what you're saying about outsourcing grocery shopping specifically, but I wonder how much of your perspective is informed by the fact that we're simply used to outsourcing some things by now (e.g., farming, making clothes, child care). And, down the line, we may be used to outsourcing other things that seem unacceptable to us now, like grocery shopping or, idk, picking out a gift for someone.

  129. Physically going shopping in stores is vastly overrated as a third place activity. Think of all the other spaces: volunteering anywhere, going to parks and playgrounds, hanging out in cafes or restaurants, participating in sports, etc. Civic life and social engagement are not going to end, but they will continue to change shape. How many people husk corn, attend quilting bees, or go ballroom dancing anymore? Activities together change; the need for socializing never does.

  130. @voltairesmistress "..volunteering anywhere, going to parks and playgrounds, hanging out in cafes or restaurants, participating in sports,..." Yeah, right, I'm sure that is what they are doing instead of grocery shopping.

  131. Don’t discount how much these services help women, especially working mothers. I don’t have a flexible schedule or the option to work from home, so I treasure the time I do get with my kids on the weekend. Id so much rather spend my Saturday morning with them at home or the local playground or library than at Whole Foods!

  132. @Jane My mother worked full-time all through my childhood and beyond. I spent hours grocery shopping with her as a child. I was able to spend time with my mother in an endeavor that she valued rather than one that was child centered. Spending that time with her taught me skills that I still use 70 years later, and gave me a keen appreciation of the value and meaning of the family table. Your children will get as much from pushing the shopping cart while they see you select the evening's meal or week's groceries as they will from spending time at the playground or library. Not every activity you engage in with your children need be centered around them. My greatest regret is not having watched my mother while she made a cheesecake. I can still taste it, but the simple unwritten recipe is gone forever.

  133. Maybe this is because my diet largely consists of fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish, but I can’t fathom asking someone else to go and pick out my groceries for me! I’d be worried that my produce would come back bruised all over or not as fresh or the wrong size (there are few things more delightful than a huge, crunchy apple). If there was more of an emphasis on healthy clean eating, I doubt we’d see as much outsourcing of our grocery shopping. There is a place for Instacart, especially for housebound seniors or disabled people who cannot get to a store easily, but it should be a social service and not a societal trend.

  134. I prefer to squeeze my own melons. I go with a list and make pretty short work of it. I enjoy the brief conversations with the people that help me, and I almost always see an acquaintance.

  135. A lot of the comments here seem to missing the point about third places. It's not about the individual interaction or where it's held, it's an intangible world of civility and of shared experience. It's chipped away at by the dude just picking up his pre-ordered coffee, the person ordering instacart, or my coworker who walks around the office with her bluetooth headphones in. I believe we are seeing the effects of it in NYC already - less civility on the subways (people standing in front of the doors and not moving), less graciousness when there's a problem, less awareness of others. I genuinely try to be a person who builds a third place for others (think of it as hostessing for the world around you) - I ask how people are and mean it, never rush people at the store, brush things off and commiserate when something bad happens, offer my seat to others with a smile, make funny small talk with waiters and waitresses and friendly folks in the elevator, and do my best to treat everyone around me as an equal. You know what really kills that? All the people in my neighborhood at the grocery store with their headphones in, reaching around you to grab a banana while saying "excuse me" when what they mean is "get out of my way." It's enough to drive one to order on Instacart.

  136. I find the idea of grocery and meal delivery compelling, BUT you lose the ability to select your own food at the grocery store which I think is a pretty bad idea. And when every dinner “out” is always just takeaway you lose the community experience of eating in a restaurant with others and being served your food which I think is a real treat. Don’t get me wrong - I have a lot of things delivered in the name of convenience, but I never will let it get to the point where it robs me of all engagement with the rest of the world. Too much isolation is extremely unhealthy, no matter how convenient it is.

  137. @WesternMass. I agree. Delivery of produce and groceries is just a way to trick people into paying full price for almost rotten, often misshapen or unwanted vegetables. Even when I go to the grocery store, I have trouble at Stop and Shop. Often all of the onions are rotten. It perplexes me how bad the veg has to be in order to be thrown out. I have had to purchase pre-chopped onions sometimes because it's the only not rotten stuff on the shelf. Whole Foods and MarketBasket have better quality, but I have problems with each. WF is expensive and owned by Amazon. MB often wraps all organic vegetables in plastic. There is no reason to wrap every single red bell pepper in plastic...

  138. I am sorry to say but the horse has long since left the barn and there is no putting it back. You can trace the origins of the loss of a face-to-face community probably all the way back to the telephone and every incremental step in technology has made it easier for us to never leave home. The Internet, email, texting, social media, all of it has virtualized our interactions. Of course this is the way of the future; global warming will limit our travel and mobility anyway and at some point there will be no need at all to leave our living cubes. Offices, travel destinations, everything will be brought into our homes with virtual reality technology; after all, it is far more energy efficient to move bits than to move people. Better get used to it, it will happen one day.

  139. @Scott Werden No, thanks.

  140. It’s already happening and has been for decades where have you been? Sears & Roebuck started it in the 1880s and did it successfully for 100 years. What is this sophomoric doom and gloom? Try thinking for yourself instead of letting the New York Times do it for you

  141. Part of being a human being is recognizing our own sensuality. When I shop particularly for produce, I wish to feel it, smell it, and decide for myself as to its quality, decide whether or not to purchase it. This aspect also applies to clothing, feel the cloth, the quality of the wool, cotton etc. etc.

  142. I am not pathologically patient or indolent but I certainly do enjoy going to the Trader Joe’s in my neighborhood.The customers are a “ mixing pot” of nationalities and are pleasant and have great manners-always apologizing if they linger too long searching-. the store promotes the pleasant behavior with their helpful and upbeat employees.We share our favorite Trader Joe specialties and give ideas for meals.It is my treat to spend 30minutes a week shopping there-I get my favorite things and chat with delightful people I would not otherwise see.No instacart for me-I love Trader Joe’s!

  143. @JANET MICHAEL, I like TJ’s, but good golly, the customers at my local TJ’s are far from pleasant! You take your life in your hands going into that store when it’s busy. People roll their carts around at speed, without thought for anyone else. The employees are okay, for the most part, but I have to gird myself again the onslaught when I shop there. So many oblivious shoppers!

  144. @JANET MICHAEL And they stoped doing delivery of my already picked and payed items... Not anymore necessary for them.. I have bad hips and can’t schlepp...

  145. I have an infant and work a full time demanding job, so I love not having to waste my time at a grocery store. I can pick my baby up from daycare and go do literally anything else. I have enough social interaction at work and home. Technology may have just changed what we consider a third place to be. At any rate, I don't want anymore small talk...I just want time. Paying people to do things like cleaning or grocery shopping or landscaping buys you time to do something you'd rather do. Some people like going to the grocery store, but if I can...I'd rather do something else.

  146. Gina where have you been! This has been going for nearly thirty years. Did you forget Kozmo and UrbanFetch. There are some benefits to ending the need for jobs that just check out food or make coffee or wait for a customer to come in a buy something. They are mind numbing and boring. As to Instacart,Lyft,Uber,etc the cost of delivery is currently being subsidized by cheap capital and cheap labor. Neither will last. Many of these tasks will be handled by robots in the coming decades and experiences that require human interaction( leisure/fitness/travel/education/healthcare and some not invented) will be considerably more lucrative than checking out groceries. The world is changing. Don t just assume getting a latte delivered while watching Succession is a bad thing.

  147. @Joe The 1% will not allow living wage jobs to be created in the future.

  148. This article of course portrays an ideal. But I work 10-14 hour days in which the commute by metro and bus is an hour each way and by car 30-45 mins. Traffic on the weekends is abysmal, taking 30-45 mins just to drive to a grocery store a mile or so away. Parking lots are even worse. So as long as this is how I have to do things to find the time to work, travel and shop for necessities, having the groceries delivered, and any thing else I might need is the only solution. This is the society we have created for ourselves and unfortunately to pay my bills and help out my family I have no real alternative. So the friendliness of shopping is lost. But I maintain my sanity and have time to socialize with friends and family. Those are my priorities.

  149. Out in the hills of SW Virginia, 16 miles from the nearest town (pop. 300) and 45 miles from the nearest city (still not worthy of a Trader Joe's), I would love to have Instacart people filling out orders and drones dropping them at my doorstep on the farm (careful, not over THERE, please). It may be kinda lazy and kinda antisocial for some people or situations, but it means a lot to us rural/remotes. However, less than $8 hourly wage is unacceptable.

  150. Thank you for this piece. I am comforted to know that the recent pushing and shoving at the grocery store bothers others. Once Amazon took over Whole Foods the experience there went from a relaxing shopping experience where one could even “escape” to a bumper-cars style of carts and oblivious shoppers filing orders on their phones. Self check out insures you will not have to interact with another human. I keep trying to replace the old experience with smaller specialty stores and farmers markets attempting to avoid Whole Foods as much as possible but this is costly. It is indeed a case study for civility and the importance, or not, of human contact.

  151. I think this is only a symptom of a bigger problem affecting New Yorkers - that is, the trend towards ignoring the presence of the people around you. It is an almost daily occurrence, for example, to hold the door open for someone who will walk through without a "thank you" or even a smile. Some of this can be attributed to the advent of the earbud and the personal device that give you something to focus on besides those around you, but it doesn't explain the entire shift. The joy, the thrill of being a New Yorker used to come from a shared sense of the community and it was communicated by a glance, a nod, even a laugh at the whole insanity that we all signed on to. Now, the aim is to block out the existence of all but a curated few. Hiring someone to get your groceries is only one obvious strategy .

  152. @b toan " It is an almost daily occurrence, for example, to hold the door open for someone who will walk through without a "thank you" or even a smile. " I have a friend in the Boston area who has the following solution to that: He tells the non-thank-you sayer "You're welcome."

  153. @Bob R So glad that my parents took my brother and I out of New York years ago and brought us to California. While California has its problems we wouldn't trade it for going back to our birthplace in New York.

  154. @b toan, Thanks. You sent my mind back to some wonderful memories. Growing up in NYC meant constantly dealing with strangers. Even in the madness of the '70s half of these interactions were somewhere on the pleasant/interesting spectrum. I really miss that fleeting sense of "community", even the surreal madness of it all. But mostly I miss the humor!

  155. There are always bars...get depressed, go to a bar, drink, feel better, ruin your liver.

  156. Everything you say has a ring of truth to it....if you are white. It's a different world for people of color...especially black men. If you are a black man....stores are hostile territory. No matter your age, demeanor or style of dress...you are looked at as a thief and moreover you are treated like one. I am a man of mature years. I dress conservatively and in a manner suitable for someone of my age. I am clean, soft-spoken and mannerly. I am also gainfully employed and have money to spend on nice things...but I am routinely mis-treated in stores and restaurants. Online shopping...Grub Hub...Amazon...Walmart Delivery...personal trainers and massuers that come to your home are a blessing; because of them, the discrimination, embarrassment, humiliation and stress that I used to experience are a thing of the past. I am thankful for a way to protect myself from those bad experiences. I work from home and home deliveries are a blessing. I hope the trend continues.

  157. @K.Walker I just want to tell you that I am sorry that you have been treated that way.

  158. @K.Walker Thanks for the reminder of the benefits of anonymous, remote shopping and the disgraceful behavior of a few, some, or many "white" retailers....now and years ago. And, my compliments that you have maintained your composure and demonstrated that we all are similar inside and not allow ourselves to be distracted by (what I consider) superficial differences. Simply by being yourself, I presume you have done more to demonstrate decency, kindness, and "class," than I may ever hope to achieve. While I was in the USAF more than 50 years ago and befriended my African-American and Chicano roommates I learned about the discrimination that people of color and of "other than Northern European ancestry" deal with every day. This was not a one time occurance. I worked part-time at an off-duty job, so I could save some money, develop an investment portfolio, and afford a car. Whenever we went out together in a retail store (particularly large department stores) in / around San Antonio, Texas, I learned to be aware that store personnel followed my friends around. I don't recall ever being followed (I am / was a white, middle class-looking male ...I suspect similar to you except for my skin color). It always struck me as creepy and a pathetic example of sterotyping and cultural discrimination. Keep up your good work. and I am reminded by the good works, deeds, and words of Dr. King.

  159. @K.Walker Sorry. This is a guy thing, not a people of color thing. PS. I am a guy and with you.

  160. Add bars, bathhouses, and porn theaters to your list of “third places.” Samuel Delany, in Times Square Red Times Square Blue, chronicles the civic and social necessity of these institutions for our democratic urban life. We must turn off our phones and talk to each other while shopping, walking, cruising.

  161. @David Counter - About half of the folks I encounter everyday don't even speak my language. I'm the only gay guy in my entire apartment building and have little in common with Samoan Mormons, young Ethiopian families, or Latino families who do not speak a single word of English. I have riveting conversations through 12-year-old translators or my favorite - the day I had to try and catch the attention of the deaf neighbor who was driving off while her car alarm was still blasting away. I didn't get that far in ASL. The Times comments section is about the only place I get to practice my language at any level.

  162. Omg. You millennials can’t even buy overpriced groceries in person? What’s next? Actually cooking. Boy is life hard..

  163. @Jeff C instead of sneering at Millennial perhaps you should do a bit of research of how much grocery online shopping there really is. Only 3% of groceries are ordered on line.

  164. @Jeff C - "What’s next?" My young landlady is now trying to force us all to use a phone app to pay our rent. "Its convenient", she says. And it only costs $5 per month. Too bad she still doesn't understand the concept of direct deposit. Or that I can write a check and run it to the office box quicker than I can get my phone to turn on and go through all of its stuff, find the app, log-in, etc. When I was young (in the 70's), I did not want to talk to anyone over 30. Now, I don't want to talk to anyone younger than 30:)

  165. used to love going to the market. About 2 years ago I become unable to walk around without help and was scared to use those stupid electric devil rides. When the market went under instacart, it was wonderful because they do the shopping for me and then my husband who is 84 and me(i am 83)can pick up our groceries and go home.

  166. More nonsense on the level of Times “critics” mourning the expulsion of many porn shops and grifters from the city by legitimate businesses years ago. Other than the occasional chance encounter, grocery stores have never been “third places” for anyone. They are not designed to be that (unless you are at a store that has designed a dining area, and they are eat-and-leave places too). So, a message for the author - change is hard. There is a sadness in every kind of passing, whether it is no longer taking your typewriter to your favorite repairman for its triennial cleaning, or no longer ordering the books you want from the sneering, condescending clerk at your local book emporium. So, if someone carves out an hour in their otherwise packed day (who maybe has less leisure time than this author) by using Instacart maybe it’s good for them. Maybe it’s good for the gig worker who is doing this while they look for something else. In a few years, the author can write about all the gig workers who will be displaced when Instacart is replaced by AutoCart... robot picked and delivered groceries.

  167. I have used Whole food delivery several times. I have been happy with delivery time, free delivery except for a pre determined tip (which I could change if I wanted to). BUT I will not use it very often in the future if ever because of produce. If all I bought was dry goods and box/canned soups etc it would be fine but what I have found is some pretty crappy produce and I suddenly realized that when I said I wanted celery that I dont want any crummy celery and if that is all they had I would pass it up. I dont want yoghurt that is set to expire in 2 days, I would search for better product or pass it up. SO great idea until I realized how much I care about the quality and freshness of my food.

  168. The supermarket here recently began offering ToGo service. Call or click your order and pick it up at one of the designated parking spaces. I asked an employee who was pushing a cart around filling orders how she liked doing that compared to her former role as cashier. “Oh, I just LOVE it”. I told her that I missed seeing her at the register. The loss of human interaction goes both way.

  169. I detest this phone crap:between lines of people transfixed by their devices while ordering, and eating their food at places like Sweetgreen, and the rise of instacart. I love grocery shopping, and go to Arthur Ave.,my local small businesses and the greenmarket for 90 % of my food. The decline of good produce in the chain stores scares me,as it is another symptom of big capital mowing down the little guys. Your personal choices are political.

  170. Yes, and the guy who walks into Starbucks to pick up his pre-ordered flat white while he conference calls also happens to have a deep-seated disdain for working people—cashiers, service workers, janitors, table bussers, anyone outside increasingly miniaturized socioeconomic realm.

  171. I just want to squeeze my own peaches.

  172. Bruise them too?

  173. Having and using a smart phone means never having to say hello. It's like getting an email from the person in the next cubical asking to borrow a pencil, remote and eventually pointless. In our digital lives, the women are pretty and smart, the men handsome and rich and all the children above average. In reality, not so much. And therein lies the problem. If reality doesn't suit us, we can ignore it instead of doing the hard work of bending it to our goals and values.

  174. I like cooking and so I will pick out my own avocados thank you very much. With Instacart, you may not get what you really want. Is it ripe? Is it the right portion? Does it look good? Also, I enjoy interacting with the butcher, beer guy, produce person, and the cashier. Finally, these Instacart jobs and their like are dead enders as Amazon is working hard, successfully, to remove people from the supply chain.

  175. In my neighborhood in Paris, a city of millions of people, everyone buys their fresh goods at the outdoor sidewalk market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. And everyone catches up with everyone else. It is a feature of urban living that is taken for granted. Hiring someone to do that shopping for you? How sad.

  176. My Saturday pleasure is hitting our local market for farm fresh eggs, Cromer crabs, fresh flowers from Tracy, family business since the ‘60’s. Coffee with a friend while people watching. So sorry for all those whose lives are just passing them by.

  177. I used to enjoy going to my supermarket near Columbia University but over the last 5 years the population has exploded and everyone is jockeying for space, dodging scooters and double wide strollers and sometimes dogs in the stores narrow lanes. It's no longer an exercise of pleasure. It's a shame.

  178. Starbucks ? Support your local independent coffee shop !

  179. @Rosalie Charlat if there was one as close to my office as the starbucks I can see from the window, I would. I don't have the ability to break away and wander off to something smaller, blocks away. I'm lucky I'm able to run across the street to get anything at all.

  180. @Rosalie Charlat - I live in Seattle and I have no idea why people drink that stuff. Every other little mom and pop place roasts better coffee, has better chocolate syrup, etc., and is even cheaper. Howard Schultz already has a billion dollars. Quit giving him more and let someone else have a chance at the American Dream and buy their products. Same with Amazon. Everything they sell online, I can get from someone else for the same or less price. I can count on Amazon if I want counterfeit goods.

  181. @Rosalie Charlat The irony seems to have been lost on the writer - pseudo outrage about "modern life" bought on while standing in line at Starbucks of all places.

  182. Viewed from Switzerland, this is just insane. Here in Geneva our grocery stores — actually almost all our stores — are still closed on Sundays. What a totally different world New York is.

  183. Great article, This coffee line is great social event in itself. I don't know what a " grande skim chai" but hearing it out loud would be a smile to face - signed - Tall Pike :) That could be my boring twitter whatever handle

  184. I used to shop at Whole Foods for specialty goods, but in the last 4 months or so I realized that I was one of maybe 5 people in the store that were not fulfilling online orders. The workers were so focused on getting items as quickly as possible that I was hit by carts and actually pushed out of the way by someone grabbing produce and marking it off on their phone. Also, most of the parking garage is nothing but cars loading up online order bags. No one said hello, no one smiled, no one really looked up at all, and the experience was so miserable I decided not to shop there again. I've made an effort to shop at little stores around the corner, and I have to say that the smiles and hellos of people shopping for themselves make a big difference in my day.

  185. @Jennie I have had a similar experience. As such, I no longer shop there as often as I once did. In general, I find that the my experience at WF since Amazon bought it has gotten worse over time. They don't carry as many things as they once did and now, it's basically a warehouse for people who have ordered online. It's a very unpleasant experience.

  186. @JustAnotherMom I go to the WF in San Rafael, California. That market is packed as it took away customers from Trader Joe's and a locally owned family market. My shopping day takes me to all three of the markets which are very close to each other. I have yet to see anyone filling online orders in WF. Maybe they haven't gotten around yet to northern California and I hope that they don't.

  187. @Jennie That is exactly my experience as well, and I will not shop at Whole Foods again until the professional shoppers are gone. There are a few other stores here as well that have gone the professional shopper route, and I've crossed them off the list as well. It makes for a truly awful shopping experience.

  188. Whole Foods in my neighborhood is a nightmare. The checkouts at Morton Williams are surprisingly unfriendly. However some of the corner fruit guys are a pleasure as are the corner store guys the newsstand guys and the people inside the bank. The dry cleaner. And some doormen. In the summer I do my local farmers market and do staples from Fresh Direct. After three years here I say hello to a surprising number of street people but not in the grocery store!

  189. @LC For the most part,people working in large markets are overworked and underpaid. They are not happy for some good reasons.

  190. Why are we all so shocked? Amazon bought it. This was coming. And the bigger Amazon gets, with it's hyper-convenience-based business model that it can scale to anything, this is going to keep happening.

  191. While I appreciate the sentiments of the article I think a little perspective is in order. I almost always do my own local grocery shopping, but joined Instacart to avoid the Costco nightmare (I usually came home hating most of humanity after a trip there). While the Instacart subscription does cost I have already calculated that I have saved more than 50% from my previous year's shopping expeditions (wasteful impulse shopping). I think it is disingenuous to believe I am making meaningful connections during my shopping trips. I live in a large city and I can connect through so many venues, but I must be purposeful about connecting. It is too simple to assume passive connections (i.e. running into someone at your local coffee shop) are the only connections keeping humanity thriving.

  192. @JacquieM I agree with you completely. Who the heck is ever making meaningful connections at the grocery store?

  193. @JacquieM, I used to do my Costco shopping after my yoga classes because going in there all blissed out kept me from screaming and biting people. I totally get it about Costco and misanthropy. The secret to shopping Costco is to go first thing in the morning. It tends to be quiet, and what customers there are, at that hour, generally behave themselves. Sometimes the stores even put out free pastries. ;-)

  194. @JacquieM Meaningful connections aside, you conveniently ignore the fact that you are enabling a system that pays employees $7.66/hr. Your 50%savings is comes out of someone else's livelihood.

  195. I don’t have access to Instantcart in my rural neighborhood. I have fallen into the comfort of having whatever I can delivered — Amazon stuff, Chewy deliveries (for dog food), drug store and cosmetics items, etc. — but groceries are something that I still have to forage for in person. I admit that I enjoy picking out my own produce. I like the cozy feel of my local grocery store (once locally owned, now held by private equity...like so many businesses). I don’t like the time it takes to drive to the store and back home — a trip to go grocery shopping is more than an hour of my day — but it’s good that I am forced to leave the forest occasionally (blinking in the light, slightly startled). Oddly, I rarely see anyone I know when I am picking among bunches of kale and carrots, so I am not catching up on the latest gossip on these outings. But I do exchange pleasantries with the grocery cashiers and the barista at the coffee shop. And then I return to my hermitage.

  196. This is a fad. Some think it's modern, but it goes back to the original Sears Catalog, when rural living mandated mail order. That was in the 1800's. So people now have learned to order their coffee by phone, and then perhaps we'll be back to mail order brides. Why actually meet someone when you can order her online? But then, sure as sunshine, elegant, sophisticated types will re-discover the arts of conversation, face to face interaction, and existing is a human environment. Jeff Bezos will have come and gone. The future is the past. I can't wait.

  197. As long as I am able, I will go to the market myself. I don't want someone else to pick out the fruit and vegetables or the meat and fish. When the time comes that I can no longer drive, I will be happy to use Instacart but hopefully that day is far off.

  198. I'm glad that you recognize that ability plays a role here. I take immune-supressing medication. I prefer to shop for my own food, but this does expose me to danger, especially if there are anti-vaxxers around, as one might find in a Whole Foods.

  199. The rise of instacart makes me so terribly sad. Many others have noted that technology enables our increasing isolation, so I won't waste more space here. However, to add to this, it also has allowed us to effectively destroy any possibility of chance encounter, fruitful wandering, or spontaneity in our daily lives. Micromanaging every aspect of our experience in the name of efficiency has led to what a tragic loss of freedom and an overall impoverishment of our capacity to think about and observe life around us and our environment. It's never too late, though. Eschew netflix for the movie theater. Reject instacart and wander aimlessly through the supermarket. Take a walk without planning your route. Go to starbucks (or any coffee shop) and sit for a few hours and talk. Enjoy the weather. Hate the weather. Get distracted on public transport. Most of all, leave room for the unexpected.

  200. @n/a you can do all of that and use delivery services too. It is not a mutually exclusive situation.

  201. What concerns me is the lack of interaction with the checkout people at Whole Foods. They seem too stressed to enter into pleasantries with their customers.

  202. I hear they are experiencing poor morale because of Amazon and the way Amazon is ruining the company. Many of the longer-term employees quit or were fired. Union-efforts busting. Cut benefits for part time employees, and made pretty much everyone part-time, or just short of qualifying for benefits. (Meanwhile Bezos getting ready for Mars tourism! What else to do with all that money??!) They brought in brands the independent Whole Foods never carried, and got rid of a lot of stuff. Even the food on the hot bar and deli case, which Im told used to be made in-house, is now apparently just shipped in and dumped in.

  203. @Laume The hot bar is looking revolting!

  204. This is part of the bigger problem, where people are shutting off others in the real world and spend most of their time on phones and tv. By the time, everyone wakes up, it would be so late and damage would be huge. This will lead to Loneliness and isolation. Tech is the biggest boon and problem of this century. Huge kudos to those who use tech very wisely and only where it requires. I feel sad looking around people listening to songs all the time in bus and trains not enjoying the true Beauty outside. 7.5 billion people in the world and loneliness is an increasing epidemic - what an irony!

  205. It's not only New York. The cashiers where I shop are hardly busy because most shoppers are fulfilling online orders. When I commented about it, a cashier told me that customers say they save money because they only get what's on their lists without any impulse purchases. When I read about the new jobs created, how many are grocery shoppers? That's not exactly a job that produces a living wage, or growth opportunity.

  206. Thank you for writing this piece; eloquently expressed what has been raging in my head for months but especially the last few weeks as our local Whole Foods has been converted into a “pick and pack” warehouse while barely tolerating its loyal walk-in customers. What I find interesting (and distressing) is that businesses like WF and Starbucks are so eagerly kicking their core customers out the door-destroying the very customer experience that differentiated them in the past-while courting an impersonal, convenience-mad clientele which is and will forever be “unsticky”/fickle. Once you replace a personalized, interactive, satisfying experience with an impersonal, quick, transaction-only connection, there is nothing to hold those shoppers from moving on to the next impersonal, quick, transaction-only and now cheaper offering. Any hope of brand building and brand loyalty will be destroyed.

  207. As loneliness is an epidemic and everyone complains they can't find meaningful connections on Tinder. Also, here in "the rest of America" the scourge is drive-thru fast food windows and tellers. Nobody gets out of their car to interact anymore and sit 10 deep idling exhaust at each other

  208. I live in a wonderful town in central Italy. Within the historic center (about 30,000 people), there are at least 10 old-fashioned, full-service butchers (who know what they're doing), 5-6 fruit stands (my favorite fruttivendolo, Mario, knows everything there is to know about his products), bakeries and pastry shops and little bars and coffee shops Americans can only dream of. There is a large central square and a number of smaller plazas where people congregate almost every day. Here there's a sense that people belong together, that the experience they are enjoying has depth and quality. Thankfully, this is the common scenario here in Italy and throughout Europe. Sure there are super-stores and chains and some of the ugliness imported from the States, but, for the most part, the very idea of Instacart is, well, ridiculous. This article saddened me because it reinforced my sense that life in the States has devolved into nothing but "transactions." If you can't be bothered to go to the market, touch and smell the food or learn where things come from or listen to people argue about which mushrooms are the best today, well then, I feel sorry for you.

  209. @mrfreeze6 - I live in Seattle. When I walk into the Asian market, the owners greet me and we chat. Customers share their knowledge of everything under the sun like which mangos are best for snacking, which are better for kabobs. When I go to the other market chain, the first thing I am asked when I enter is "would you like to try a sample of this cheese?" If I go to the cannabis store, the owner knows me by name. When I go to Home Depot, if I can't find something, I search for Barbrella who knows everything about that store. Workers in the garden section recognize me and ask me to take pictures of my garden for them. The front desk lady at the pharmacy knows me by name and keeps asking me to bring her some peas from my living room garden (yes, peas indoors). The bus drivers recognize me and we laugh it up all the way home. The convenience store owner knows me by name and wants me to build him a website. And as for coffee? Well, until you have gone to a bikini barista and have Elvira lean out the window and ask if you want cream...or sugar with your coffee, you're just drinking Joe. I don't go out for coffee much ever since some Ethiopian neighbors taught me how to roast my own coffee on the stove at home. And the Asian market started carrying Ethiopian green coffee beans to roast. Seattle still thinks its Mayberry even though its an international port city.

  210. @mrfreeze6 don't need your pity. Life is not a series of transactions for many of us in the USA, despite your impressions from the article. I would recommend you not take one article and extrapolate it out to how 327.2 million (third most populous country in the world) residents in the USA live. A lot of us socialize in our small towns and have no social or mental health issues that are outlined in this article written from one, big city perspective.

  211. In the early 1940s, my mother and my father first met (she 12, he 14) because he was delivering groceries to my grandmother's apartment in Brooklyn. My grandmother would phone the local market with her order; they put the groceries in sacks; my dad put the orders in a pushcart, and went from there. About ten years later, my mom and dad got married. People complain about this "new" phenomenon of mobile ordering and delivery - but in one form or another it has been with us for decades, and the results weren't always social anomie.

  212. @Lise exactly. Home delivery of groceries has been around for a long time. The Twin Pines guy delivered dairy products to our homes in the 60's, and at my spouses childhood home a milk chute was built into the home by the builder (1952 or so), near their back door. It is still intact today. The delivery guys delivered milk in glass bottles, and changed out empty ones for full ones. Everything could be delivered. I have a friend who worked at a small grocer in CT, and in the 60's he delivered groceries to residents of his small town.

  213. When I grew up, everyone on the block had their milk delivered by the milkman. Ironically, it was the supermarkets back then that the paid professional thinkers claimed would ruin our world, because we were plucking our milk from an anonymous refrigerated shelf instead of getting it from a smiling guy in a big white van.

  214. I do my own grocery shopping at the local, unionized Stop & Shop. Even with that, they still find a way to take the human out of the equation wherever they can. They have "Marty" the aisle scanning robot, as well as an expanded self checkout area, online shopping and PeaPod delivery. Those efforts of course are an attempt to squeeze costs but they're also a response to market demand or at least keeping up with the competition.

  215. Everyone I go to The Whole Foods in Fort Greene I am thinking everything in this article. Sometime I think I am one of those rare people that actually enjoys picking out a recipe and going to the store to get all the necessary ingredients. Sadly, I’m slowly finding it to be a grind because most people in the store are shopping for others. There goal is efficiency and speed, and I don’t blame them - that’s what they’ve been hired to do. I’m not sure what the solution is but when I can, I try to go to smaller, more specialty markets. Maybe Amazon can make a store just for Instacart?! Could exacerbate the problem though.

  216. Is a shopping cart the size of Bermuda large or small? If it's large, most writers would use Texas or a similar large area. Bermuda is a small island, but very large for a shopping cart! I'm inclined to think small, but large carts make sense for a large store as they've been proven to encourage more shopping.

  217. The digital age might just be our undoing. Among other things there has been a drop in empathy, a dramatic rise in hate, a loss of civility and the destruction of the once vibrant social circle called the neighborhood.

  218. Similarly, I often eat lunch at a wonderful ramen restaurant in the West Village, and more and more I am alone -- except for delivery person after delivery person picking up orders for those who won't venture out of their apartments for a meal.

  219. I fought ATMs and direct deposit years ago, opting for in person banking. Then I realized that no one in the bank cared if I was there or not. The days of community banks and stores have passed, with few exceptions. I go to the grocery store because I like picking out my own stuff. Socialization just doesn't happen, especially at self checkout.

  220. Packed onto jammed rush hour the #6 train yesterday morning I noticed the Fresh Direct ad. It's tag line assured users that they would never have to step into a supermarket again. Yes, they're actually touting societal isolation as an added benefit for ordering one's groceries on-line. I'm now on the older side of the age scale so probably not a likely Fresh Direct target. FWIW, I cannot imagine letting someone in a warehouse pick my fruit, veggies, fish or meat. But apparently there are plenty of folk out there who want this "convenience". And then, having isolated themselves from the simple human contact of fellow shoppers and checkout cashiers they will spend the evening on social media trying to feel they are part of something bigger than themselves. Go figure.

  221. When I was undergoing cancer treatment home delivery of food was literally a lifesaver as it helped me avoid getting sick from other shoppers. There is more to home delivery than convenience.

  222. @Darby Fleming exactly. An attitude displayed in this article and commentators that will be torn asunder once someone experiences an event that so disables them that they will be grateful for home delivery services. Only a matter of time.