Saturday, June 15, 2019

Streamlining Your Condiments

You can't bear to part with that green sweater your mom bought you that doesn't really fit. Nor can you throw away that baseball glove with the ripped pocket that you used to win the softball championship back in high school. Likewise the beer stein from your senior prom, that cassette with the mix tape your first boyfriend gave you and those lucky footies you had on when you got your acceptance letter to college. And that's why your sock drawer is a mess, your garage is a disaster and don't even mention your closet. 

For some Marie Kondo is the answer. The doyen of tidiness has created a cottage industry of throwing stuff out, wrestling your capri leggings into neat rectangles and filling your closets with boxes of boxes. The idea is to be ruthless with what you have, keeping only that "which brings you joy" while tossing out everything else. And it's not just a one-off binge: to keep your life in order you need to worship every day on the altar of folded underwear. 

There is supposedly no part of your life that can't be KonMari-ed. From the office to the car to the kitchen, acolytes ruthlessly and continuously review all they have, winnowing it down to the basics and putting the rest in formation. But no longer do you have to depend on a Japanese methodology to organize one part of your life. For making sense of your refrigerator and keeping juices, vegetables and cold cuts in their place, you can now turn to that most all-American of institutions, Walmart. 

The retailing giant is rolling out a new program to deliver food directly to your icebox, with initial footholds in Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Vero Beach, Florida. It goes one better than Amazon's In Home Delivery service, which allows a driver to not just leave a package by the garage, but place it inside your front door. For all the big online retailers, this so called "last mile" into a consumer's life is the promised land, and the one they are all trying to crack. 

In this new program, once an order is placed you go online and pick your groceries, then select InHome delivery. A Walmart employee will package your deliverables and bring them to your home. Gaining entry via some kind of smart lock with a one-time code, they will enter your abode and put away your mayonnaise. 

Of course security is a major concern, and the program takes that into consideration. Employees who want to be part of the program have to have worked at a local store for at least a year. Beyond further vetting, they will also wear a bodycam showing all. You will get alerts to your phone as they progress, and can watch a live stream of your peppers being placed in the veggie drawer, or can watch an archived replay of the entire visit if you're bored with GOT reruns. 

And here's where the Marie Kondo connection comes in. According to the briefing materials, associates who are selected to be part of this service will "go through an extensive training program which prepares them to enter customers' homes with the same care and respect with which they would treat a friend's or family's home, not to mention how to select the freshest grocery items and organize the most efficient refrigerator." 

Did you catch that last part? Not only will they deliver a quart of milk and a dozen eggs, they will rearrange your fridge for maximum efficiency. Never mind that you like to keep your ketchup in front of the mustard. If "correct" procedure as taught in Fridge 101 at Walmart U is the other way around, after an InHome delivery you may have to dig around to find the salsa you had left over from last night's tacos. 

People already routinely allow housekeepers and maintenance people into their homesteads to tidy and fix up as needed. But generally they just police the existing state of affairs. With this new service, you are empowering Walmart employees to streamline your condiments. And what of the future? It's a slippery slope from there to ordering toothpaste and having your medicine cabinet tweaked, or purchasing socks and having your dresser color coded. Better hide your tie-dyed tee shirts while you still have the chance.


Marc Wollin of Bedford likes his milk right in the front. His column appears regularly in The Record-Review, The Scarsdale Inquirer and online at, as well as via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.