Going to the Grocery Store

August 28, 2010 in rantlets | Comments (0)

    

People flock to the deli counter because they like to have someone slice their lunchmeat in person. They also tried this in dairy, but the cows wouldn’t stand still.

My receipt always lists the store manager’s name, and his framed headshot is mounted on the wall by the registers. Is this so we can ask for autographs when we spot him? It must be strange, being the boss inside the store and simultaneously a total loser outside it (especially at your high school reunion).

Last time I shopped, I challenged myself to buy a completely different list of items than last time, with no repeats…and almost hyperventilated before giving up. Imagine the adrenaline rush, feeling like you came home with someone else’s groceries. Lima beans, chardonnay, tater tots, ginger ale. My heart is racing.

To me, the shopping process is a weekly time trial, with a best time to be continually improved upon (“he’s skipping the mustard this week, Jim…that’ll shave off at least fourteen seconds”). That’s why I get angry when they move the ketchup down on the shelf…it costs me precious seconds. I beat my time roughly once a month, and pose for pictures with the cashier as I give the peace sign.

The more impatient you are, the more susceptible you are to trying the self-checkout area. Don’t succumb!! It may look tempting, but it always causes much greater frustration when you realize too late that you have no training or clue how to bag groceries in under 25 minutes. Plus, the store doesn’t fully trust us, so they have a supervisor eyeing the self-checkout area from behind a podium like a pit boss. I think the area should really be called “bagger auditions.” Like, the three fastest times each day get a job offer. And maybe someday, a framed headshot.

The trashy checkout-line magazines must realize that I’m not buying them anymore, because they’re constantly raising the stakes…at this point, I’m fairly sure that they’re flat-out lying to hook me. “Jen’s Pregnant!” Looks convincing on the cover, until you flip back and read the caveat that the wild claim is based on third-hand, wishful speculation from the nephew of a paparazzo. And how do they determine which stars will hold our interest? There’s zero correlation between talent, or even box-office success, and coverage. Could we all get together and trick them into more articles on Ellen Burstyn? I have a feeling she’s just like us.

Even if I have fewer than 15 items, I still feel like a complete jerk if the old lady behind me only has 2 things…I’m well within the limit; why am I squirming uncomfortably? Also, if I’m right at the 15-item limit, am I allowed to take gum?

It doesn’t count as customer service if the “how are you” script is literally taped to the cash register. I also have one, taped to my credit card: Question: “Did you find everything OK today?” Answer: “Go to hell.”

The baggers have the shortest attention span of any profession. Have you ever seen one stand still for more than one consecutive checkout? They usually end up bagging three-quarters of my stuff, then wandering away to talk to Trisha.

Someone somewhere decided that two aisles must always be decorated differently than the rest of the store to set a certain mood: the wine aisle and the organic food aisle. There must be a study showing that wine sales rise 50% when you hang a trellis and install hardwood floors, fooling people into thinking they wandered into southern Tuscany.

The sheer diversity of goods & services available at the grocery store’s customer service desk is nothing short of amazing. It’s the only place where, in one trip, I can get stamps, cigarettes, lottery tickets, tattoos, my fortune told, measles shot, shoeshine and license plates.

The number of items is not the best determinant of how fast the process will go…the checkout lines should be separated by age. Twentysomethings here, octogenarians there. You can’t tell me that a retiree with four items will be faster than a teenager with twenty. The old guy is paying with savings bonds, for heavens sake.

There’s always one aisle that I’ve never been down, and will never be down. “Aisle Eight: nail polish, pet food, pool supplies.” Next.

I feel weird taking an item that the guy is stocking right then…like I’m ruining his perfect display, stealing it or messing with him. If I take one every time he puts one down, he’ll never finish.

I HATE coupons. No time for them in my life. Especially the ones that print out with my receipt. I don’t care if it says “Buy one ice cream, get the rest free for life.” I’m throwing it away.

I think I subconsciously try to impress the checkout guy with the superior collection of items that I picked…I want him to say, “Oh man, good call on the eclairs…I didn’t even know we had these!” That, combined with a new best time, would be the perfect shopping trip.

Everyone thinks toilet paper can’t be improved upon, but I disagree. If someone swabbed peanut butter on my arm, would I just rub it off with a dry napkin? I don’t think so.

I could never get a job ordering for a warehouse…I’m terrible with restocking my own apartment. There’s always one item that I’m WAY too stocked up on and one that I forgot to buy. Right now, I have 14 boxes of dental floss at home and no cereal.

 


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