**Caveat--yes, I did just create these posts back to back; but I thought the story was too long to be one post.
**Disclaimer--ok, maybe it's not really that good of a story.
So, I go into Tesco Metro (because apparently all of the grocery stores cloned themselves six times over the summer and there is some serious food-provider competition going on around Oxford. I fear that the grocery store to person ratio is going to rival the library to person ratio soon), the largest of the two local stores that are located directly next to each other. If you care the advantages of the Tesco Metro is that it sells everything. The disadvantage is that everyone is there....and standing in line. I hate the lines and for this reason, don't love Tesco Metro, but I thought it was my best chance to score some coffee filters.
So, I go downstairs and head to the coffee section. I don't know about you, but if I were playing the 'If I were a coffee filter where would I be?' game, I would answer 'With the coffee!' every-single time. Because of my confidence in where the coffee filters should be, when they weren't there, I immediately decided to get some help. So, I asked one of the stockers where I could find the coffee filters (thinking I had overlooked them in the coffee aisle, etc). His response was, "If we had them, they would be over in aisle 13 with the home appliances." This certainly isn't where I would put them, but it seemed reasonable enough. So, I went to aisle 13. I couldn't find them. But lucky for me, there was another worker in aisle 13. After looking on my own for about 3.5 seconds (because persistence is one of my greatest virtues) I asked him where I could find the coffee filters. He responded "If we have them, they would be over in aisle 7--with the coffee." I was about to tell him they weren't there, but he took the service one step further and walked over to the aisle and confirmed that they were not.
I have to admit that I found the "If we had them" claim to be baffling and incredibly unhelpful. It completely eliminates my ability to be certain whether I have looked in the right place, or whether I should be looking at all. But I thought that maybe the store just hadn't been open very long so some of the employees were still familiarizing themselves with the inventory. And, this is a smaller grocery store, so maybe I shouldn't expect them to carry coffee filters.
So, I walked out a couple of miles to the biggest grocery store. If they didn't have coffee filters than I had discovered the scam of the coffee machine (this was before I discovered the permanent filter, mind you). After looking in the coffee aisle--to no avail--I just found a stocker and asked him where I would find the coffee filters. When he started his sentence off with "If we had them..." I should have just walked out of the store.
For those of you who are wondering what the answer to the question "Where would I find coffee filters?" is, the answer is "In the specialty store in the covered market." But that isn't really a very good punchline to the story. But at least you know what to expect if you ever need help finding something at the grocery store--it's like the song that never ends.