Chances are that you have never set foot inside the best grocery store in America: Aldi. And even if you are lucky enough to be in one of the 32 states where Aldi is, perhaps you were put-off by the cardboard boxes in lieu of shelves, or the row upon row of suspicious-looking off-brands. What is this place? Why do I have to put down a deposit to check out a cart? What is the weird giant shelf by the exit? And what do you mean, I have to pay for a bag?
Rebecca Schuman is an education columnist for Slate and adjunct professor at the University of Missouri–St. Louis.
Aldi is part of a charming subset of Teutonic trade: the brother-run company that cleaves in twain. Shoe aficionados already know the story of the Dassler brothers, Adolf and Rudolf, whose bitter feud resulted in the creation of Adidas and Puma. (Germans pronounce Adidas differently—some might say correctly—AH-dee-das, from Adi Dassler.) But outside Germany, few know about grocery-store kingpins Karl and Theo Albrecht (who was kidnapped in 1971!)—even though Karl, with a reported net worth of more than 17 billion euros, is the richest man in Germany (Theo’s descendants are a close second).
The Brüder founded their discount-store empire together. A disagreement in 1960 over selling cigarettes hastened a partition, and an epic game of grocery-store Risk: Theo would rename his business Aldi Nord, and would control territories north of the Rhine, plus a healthy chunk of Europe. Karl would head up Aldi Süd, and get southern Germany, more of Europe, plus the U.K. and Ireland. But both companies operate stores in the United States—Aldi Süd operates as Aldi, and Aldi Nord as the now ubiquitous Trader Joe’s.
But whereas Trader Joe’s employs just one major cost-saving device—private labeling—everything else about it is Americanized. The place is swarming with upbeat employees; cashiers stand at the till and bag your products for you; you just grab a cart willy-nilly and they trust you to put it back. Aldi also private-labels (those $1.99 “Millville” Rice Squares areChex, you guys!), but what makes it a more exciting venture—and even cheaper than Trader Joe’s—is that it has imported the entire German grocery experience (aside, alas, from employees yelling at you if you do something wrong).
If you’ve ever visited Germany, you’ve noticed that a 4-ounce glass of juice at a restaurant may run you $10, while groceries—often of much higher quality than their American counterparts—will be noticeably less expensive. This is in part because of cost-cutting shopping practices whose arrival stateside I greet with a robust “Wunderbar!”
You can always tell an American in Germany by the way they incredulously don’t get that nobody is going to bag their groceries for them—they’re expected to do so (and schnell!) while the seated cashier is ringing them up. Shoppers also have the option of quickly sticking wares back into the cart and schlepping them over to a special low, wide shelf that’s an official bagging area. As for the cart: It requires a deposit, and customers must return them to their rightful place—without the help of an employee—if they want their money back.
These are standard practices at even upscale German Supermärkte, so high-end groceries are cheaper relative to other goods than they are here. This is why I am hoping for Aldi’s rousing success in Amiland: so that more of our stores, and our culture in general, will incorporate such Teutonic efficiency. First the cost-savings of bagging our own groceries—then the ubiquitous bicycle lanes; immaculate, punctual public transportation; and, finally, required paid vacation and parental leave. It would be ausgezeichnet indeed, meine Lieben.
White is a colour. It is not a mere absence of colour; it is a shining and affirmative thing, as fierce as red, as definite as black … And one of the two or three defiant verities of real Christianity is exactly this same thing; the chief assertion of religious morality is that white is a colour.
Virtue is not the absence of vices or the avoidance of moral dangers; virtue is a vivid and separate thing, like pain or a particular smell.
Mercy does not mean not being cruel or sparing people revenge or punishment; it means a plain and positive thing like the sun, which one has either seen or not seen.
Chastity does not mean abstention from sexual wrong; it means something flaming, like Joan of Arc.
In a word, God paints in many colours, but he never paints so gorgeously, I had almost said so gaudily, as when He paints in white.
All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever. (1 Peter 1:24-25)
In the Name of + Jesus. Amen. Here are four letters every Lutheran should know: V D M A. No, it’s not the initials of some infamous criminal or an acronym for a super new video music awards show on MTV.
V D M A happens to be the first four letters in a famous Reformation slogan: Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum. What does this mean? Well, it’s Latin for: The word of the Lord endures forever. And it was all over Reformation artwork, letters, and even on the armor of soldiers who served under Lutheran princes in Lutheran territories of Germany.
The Lutherans in the Reformation didn’t make this up on their own at one of Martin Luther’s famous house parties. They took this slogan — like everything else they taught in Lutheran hymns, catechisms, and doctrine — from the pages of Scripture. The Word of the Lord endures forever.
St. Peter is quoting the prophet Isaiah. That’s how God’s Word is handed down, from Jesus to His prophets, to disciples, and finally, to us. There’s a reason Peter echoed Isaiah and the Lutheran reformers echoed the words of Scripture. Left alone, their words are nothing, meaningless. But God’s Word is something completely different.
Unlike our promises, which we fail to keep, Christ keeps His promises. Unlike our words, which often are fleeting at best and sinful at worst, Jesus’ words endure forever. The grass will wither and the flower will fade, but Christ’s Word of absolution spoken in your ears, Christ’s Word and water poured over you in Holy Baptism, Christ’s Word in the bread and wine given to you at Holy Communion remains forever. V D M A. In the Name of + Jesus. Amen.
Preserve Your Word and preaching, The truth that makes us whole, The mirror of Your glory, The pow’r that saves the soul. Oh, may this living water, This dew of heav’nly grace, Sustain us while here living Until we see Your face. (Preserve Your Word, O Savior, LSB 658:4)
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Considering. Anyone have experience with Tom Bihn bags?
research shows that people who swear a lot tend to have more dominant, hostile, Type A personalities…
Swearing gives a bad impression makes you unpleasant to be with is a tool for whiners and complainers reduces respect people have for you shows lack of self control is a sign of a bad attitude discloses a lack of character is immature reflects ignorance
No one will ever quite understand your particular brand of longing, no one but you and the page on which you write. And that is sad, and troubling. And I wish someone did because the fields and dusk and earthy leaf smell would mean more. But I have the words to echo it back. Thank you, words.
In the video below, several men were outraged after finding themselves shortchanged by the ATM. However, they were quickly explained the significance of campaign, highlighting the plight of women and promoting ‘Equal Pay Day’.