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Friday, September 4, 2020

Stark Rewards

I needed a few things at the store today and decided to stop at our handy local discount store, Grocery Outlet.

They had neither of the items I was looking for, rubbing alcohol and q-tips, but I bought a few things that I saw there that looked interesting, including this quite generic and distinctly monochromatic box of Triscuits.

I asked the checkout girl if there was a reason behind Triscuit's newfound stark minimalism?

She said "Hey, it's 2020, the world is upside down, no one cares about anything. It's perfect."

She had a point but I sort of miss the color, old fashioned romantic that I am.

And the experience today got me to thinking, overactive mind that I have.

Grocery Outlet is a discount supermarket. They must have one hell of a buyer because they find things that are really good, maybe about to hit their due date or bought at close out and they offer them to the public cheap.

But good luck ever going in the store and buying the same exact thing again. Doesn't happen. It is a one time shot. Now there admittedly will always be something cool to buy but those Belgian almond cookies I liked so much, think I will ever see them again? Not a chance in hell, this side of Flanders. Or should I say, not a chance in Phoenix, since it's even hotter than hell?

So why do we all love this store? It's the old intermittent reward theory. It all goes back to a most excellent blogpost I once wrote, Buy stuff, kill monsters, win gold. It was there that I introduced the three major types of rewards in behavioral psychology, constant, progressive and intermittent.

Constant rewards are no fun, hence the blasé acedia of the boorishly wealthy. Can never quite scratch their itch. Progressive rewards are high risk and lead to people jumping out of windows or airplanes, also dangerous.

But intermittent rewards, the type of excursion or scenario where you never know if a payoff is coming or not or the exact nature of the payoff if there is one, they really tickle the human psyche. The most powerful reward there is for us hominids. And that is what a trip to the new version of the discount supermarket is like. Thrill of the hunt.

A friend texted me last night past midnight, not feeling well. Didn't want to go to the emergency room but would I take her there in the morning? Got up at 4:30 a.m. and did the deed at Camp Pendleton, through the fog. Like visiting another country. Thankfully my friend is alright, tragedy is averted but I am wasted and going to call it a day. About a hundred million degrees out there.

1 comment:

Lena said...

I loved Triscuits... haven’t had em in years! They served me well on many an all-nighter prepping for an exam.