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Is It Possible?


You know those moments where you wish you had thought a little bit more before you spoke? I know I just finished writing a blog post about not using my brain wherever possible, but those kinds of moments aren’t exactly what I meant.

So, I was at the grocery store today, and I set my eyes on pizza crust… otherwise known as the first ingredient in a meal that is pretty much destined to be tasty. As I typically do, I scanned the available packages, and looked for the one with the furthest best before date. I soon located the freshest, most suitable candidate for my eventual consumption, but right as I was putting it in my shopping cart, I did a double-take. There was something about the best before sticker, seen below.

Pizza bread with a sticker that says Bakery - Packaged 01-07-14, Best Before 06-07-14

Bakery – Packaged 01-07-14, Best Before 06-07-14

As I was pondering, I noticed a short grocery employee walking by with a dirty metallic rack of some sort, and gestured that I had a question. She noticed, and soon moved up next to me to look where I was pointing, the best before sticker. To do this, she had to balance the awkward chunk of metal on one side, angling her body to better hold the weight. Once she could see, I asked my question:

“Is it possible that this thing expires in 5 days?”

She paused, briefly, and responded with a flat “yes,” with her tone slightly hinting what she felt: that the question had a fairly obvious answer. I nodded, and she carried on with her work.

A woman deep in thought, with her hand over her mouth, slightly. She looks to the right, with a slight frown.

Photo by Nicola Jones

Now, see, what I was thinking about (and you have every reason to doubt me right now, but I assure you, I was thinking) was the date format, which was ambiguous due to its numbering. The typical date format that I prefer is month, day, year, but in Quebec, it tends to be day, month, year, as that’s the configuration in French. I knew it was likely the French version, but I wasn’t totally convinced. And before solving that mystery, my brain jumped immediately to another: the length of freshness advertised, and what clues it might give about the format. Based on the look of the pizza crust, I kind of expected it to be loaded with preservatives, and thus, have a longer shelf life than a measly 5 days. But I didn’t get a chance to check the ingredients, or anything. Before I could think to do that, I spotted the helpful grocery store employee, and opted for a human exchange.

But I soon realized the humor embedded within my question. If, in fact, the date format were in English, then that would mean the bread was packaged on the January 7th, with a best before date ending the same day, but in June. That, obviously, would be one mutant piece of fresh food, with the most powerful preservatives ever to bless a piece of bread. Clearly, the most logical solution, had I completed my thinking before seeking human assistance, was that the expiry date had a far higher probability of being 5 days, rather than 5 months. And, seeing as the product actually had a “packaged on” date on an external sticker, it was likely printed and pasted on the spot, and thus, it was likely never super sealed for an endless shelf-life; instead, it was probably baked in-store, for freshness. You know, exactly the type of thing that bakeries generally do.

In the end, as stupid as I might have come off, I enjoyed the situation. Every now and then, I say things to strangers that show a serious lack of thought, and yet, I do feel that I possess a fairly satisfactory level of intelligence. But if you asked those people, and their limited interactions with me, I’d probably seem to be lacking in the brain department. But you know, that’s the comedy of life… the more mistakes I make, the more stories I can laugh about, and often, blog about. It’s a good life.