One-sided.

You were always a priority for me. Your blossoming blooms welcomed me every time I saw you. I even went out of my way to see you between clients because you were my escape.

You gave me the gift of exploring without even leaving my city – I could go from India to Italy within just a few steps in your frozen isle, and treat myself to a mini-coffee sample as a soothing balm for my all my woes. You knew just what I needed. In return, I made sure everyone I loved got a chance to taste your maple walnut blondies when they came around in September. You made me believe in the impossible – You made me start to love pumpkin-flavoured just-about-everything. You introduced me to cheeses I never knew I was missing out on. You showed me healthy alternatives for the crunchy snacks I relied on after a long day of social-working. I thought you did all this because you cared about me. I really fell for you harder than you’ll ever know.

After moving to Canada, I was almost certain you’d be there waiting for me. How could you not, after all we’d been through? I was sure you were coming with me. I had packed all of my favourites you’d introduced me to over the years into a handy snack bag to my share with my husband on our first road trip after marriage. It was only after I finished my last bar of your 30% Whole Hazelnut Swiss Chocolate with the orange packaging when I realized you didn’t make it up here with me to Canada. In fact, you were nowhere near my vicinity in the entire country. How could it be?!

Frantically, I opened my laptop, searching for answers, an address, a phone number, anyone who could help.

I found nothing.

At least, not in Canada.

I didn’t give up. I knew there had to be a way. Having been 6 weeks into my first pregnancy and in dire need of my cherished goodies, I searched every corner of your website until my eyes felt weary.

And that’s when I saw it.

“Request a TJs in my City”

With renewed confidence, I started emailing you.

“Hi, I’m a huge fan and I just can’t believe there is no Trader Joe’s in Ontario, Canada. Could you kindly consider bringing a TJs up here? Thanks!!!”

“Phew, that was easy,” I thought.

I waited for anything other than an automated response. I sent you an email every week for almost a third of my pregnancy. Did I mention you were a priority for me?

I lost hope after I realized this entire bond was one-sided. I dreamed about our next reunion to cheer myself up, knowing you’d be there across the border even if you couldn’t come along with me. I never thought I could be angry with you even after this realization, until…

I saw the unthinkable.

I was looking at my old TJ packages I had in my pantry one afternoon, when I noticed something peculiar on my keepsake peppermint tin.

“PRODUCT OF CANADA” ?!?

How could you come from here and not be here? I was all the more confused, and hurt! It almost felt like a joke! Talk about salt in the wounds.

And that’s when I had to give up all most of my hope. Reality struck me hard. Perhaps, I would never have a friendly neighbourhood TJ in my new Canadian city.

I wouldn’t experience the genuine customer service skills only TJ cashiers had, with their cheery Hawaiian shirts.

I wouldn’t be welcomed into my favourite store with a fresh Fearless Flyer or an array of blooms, matching perfectly with my taste.

I wouldn’t get to sip the mini-coffee samples, or try the TJ brand of frozen [insert international dish] or walk out of the store with an extra skip in my step to take on my day.

Instead, I’d wait to be reunited only once or twice a year,

Because it was always one-sided.

This was fun to write! I don’t consider myself a “fun” writer but I really enjoyed trying something new!

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