People Hate Change

As a whole, the human race doesn’t like change. How can I make such a generalized, blanket statement like that? Because I’ve seen and experienced it, first hand.

A little background first:

I work in the dairy department of a grocery store. And as such, I have the opportunity to observe a large slice of humanity: different cultures, different socioeconomic backgrounds, different age groups from the very young to the very old, both male and female and anywhere in between. I see a little bit of everything because, well, everyone needs to eat. It’s quite a place if you every want to observe fellow human beings.

My place of employment is going through a remodel, and instead of closing down for several weeks and doing one grand reveal, they’ve chosen the route of remodeling the store department by department. That means that on any given day, the toilet paper is not where it was yesterday, and the dog food is now where the shampoo is, or the peanut butter is where the baby food was two days before.

People are wandering through the store with a look of disgust and frustration on their faces. Most have no problem vocalizing their frustration to the employees, who, because of the abrupt and daily changes, don’t have any idea where most of the items are either. It’s a mess. But it’s going to be beautiful! (they say).

The dairy department, where I work, is mostly one aisle, and it happens to be the first aisle on the right after you’ve gone through the produce department. So, my department is generally the first to hear people’s opinions about the changes. (Lucky me)

This week, they remodeled the dairy aisle: took out the clunky displays in the center of the aisle and replaced our old shelves with an enclosed refrigerated area complete with doors. And it does look beautiful. Oh, and they rearranged the entire aisle: the yogurt is where the cheese was, the cheese is where the sour cream and cottage cheese used to be, the juice is on the other side of the aisle where the creamer used to be, and the eggs have moved to the end of the aisle.

Today was the first day everything was the first day that everything was in place. As customers came around the corner and gazed upon our aisle, they were pleasantly surprised…at first. It’s visually pleasing. And then they realized that things were moved and rearranged. Change had occurred without their consent or input.

Some of the comments today:

“Ooo, look at this! Wait…where’s my creamer?”

“Oh, God…everything is moved! I’ll never find what I need!”

“Why can’t they just leave things alone?!”

“I’m too old to start over.”

“I don’t have time for this! I don’t want to have to hunt for my groceries!”

“Every time I come in here things are different!”

The best part was when they would ask me where something was, in my own department, and I had to take a couple seconds to figure it out. I mean, I work there! It’s my department! I should know, right? Wrong!

Fortunately, most people were patient and understanding. And I thank those customers for that. We’re doing the best we can.

So, here we are back to my initial statement: People don’t like change. Not one person came around that corner and exclaimed, “I love it! Thank you for changing everything around!” or “I can’t wait to find out where my brand of yogurt got moved!” or“ At last! Changes that disrupt my life, even if it’s just for a moment!” Nope. Not a single one. Though I did hear in a consoling tone, “It’s going to be beautiful when it’s all done.”

So, though change may be necessary, change is rarely easy. Change is rarely welcomed. No matter what someone tells you about loving change, I believe that kind of change is circumstantial in nature. The kind of change that people welcome is the kind of change that is self-initiated. And even then, it can be filled with anxiety, even pain.

But change is necessary for us to learn and grow, even if it means having someone move the eggs when you weren’t expecting them to. Or discontinuing your Dragon Fruit Yogurt because you were the only one buying it. Sorry if that was you, by the way.

What about you? Do you welcome change? Or do you run from it?


  1. I feel this way whenever I go to Target. They all seem to enjoy moving things around every day. By myself I don’t mind wandering around, but, with two small kids and ten trips past the toy section just to find everything I need (without stopping, which leads to incessant whining), I’m silently cursing whoever moved the toilet paper.

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