There are things in life that I dislike, and then there are things that I despise. Going to the grocery would have to rank right up there near the top of category number two. I would rather do almost ANYTHING than pull into the parking lot of a grocery… clean the toilet, empty the cat’s litter box, hand wax our floors, you name it! Part of it has to be the procrastination factor. I’ve usually put it off for so long that no standard size grocery cart could ever possibly accommodate my needs. Even a master grocery stacker would need a minimum of two carts, especially when you factor in the broken wheels that are always pulling you in the opposite direction of where you’re trying to go.
I’ve tried to be more proactive, but let’s face it… there’s nothing simple about a grocery run. You can easily blow a half hour compiling “the list” before you’ve even set foot out of the house. Even after I’ve made out “the list” AND gone to the trouble of arranging it IN ORDER, to match the store layout… I, invariably, find myself at the end, missing 2 to 3 random items that we probably won’t need for another 3 months. While this may sound like a minor inconvenience, let me assure you… it is not.
I now have so many groceries that I can barely push them anywhere, or stop them, for that matter. Then there’s the added pressure of knowing that I have roughly five minutes to locate these items before 30 dollars-worth of ice cream and pop cycles start to melt. A wise person might just write those items off and head to the check-out. Not me! I’m in the zone. They’re on “the list”. Walking out of the store without them would be a crushing defeat, so this is when I begin frantically zig-zagging the aisles, in search of a box of light bulbs and a bottle of ketchup that USED to be on aisle 2, but has mysteriously been moved to another part of the store.
In fact, can I just get something off my chest? It’s a TIP, if you will, to the Grocers of America: STOP MOVING CRAP AROUND! Why do you torment us with your incessant rearranging? I mean, let’s think about this rationally. Is the ketchup REALLY going to sell better near the freezer section than it did over by the bread and produce? I mean, I know there are some items in the store that no one is going to buy without a little arm twisting. In those isolated situations, I can understand that management might have to “trick” consumers into buying those items with an end cap or some other kind of creative merchandizing, but I’m going to go out on limb and say that CONDIMENTS ARE NOT AMONG THEM! They’re staples. If I need ketchup, I need ketchup… and I don’t want to have to work for it! Fair enough?
Probably the only thing I DO like about the grocery is the magazine aisle. In my heart, I know that it’s wrong (if not illegal) to stand in the store for 20 minutes reading an issue of Cosmo cover to cover without paying for it, BUT… I do it anyway. It’s a sickness! I’m a literature thief. Cuff me!
What’s perhaps MOST disturbing about all this, is that I feel no guilt or remorse whatsoever about my behavior. One of my girlfriends says I have an “entitlement issue”. She says I hate the grocery so much that I feel like they owe me, in some small way, for picking them over, say… Whole Foods.
Her logic is sound unless you consider the fact that I could never shop at Whole Foods on a regular basis. I’m pretty sure their uber-wealthy/celebrity clientele would frown upon my idiosyncrasies. Plus, I almost never whip up anything in the kitchen that calls for crushed, organic coriander fresh from India. Pretty much any herb you can’t find nestled alongside the rest of the McCormick’s spices is something I’m probably never going to need.
Anyway, the secret to pulling off the whole magazine thing is to get in a really long check-out line. I’ve discovered that the employees are a lot more forgiving, and/or lenient, when it seems like a customer is being inconvenienced in some way. When you’re in a long line, the employees either overlook your indiscretion out of pity, or they’re too busy to even notice what’s going on.
In the rare event that someone DOES muster up the courage to confront you or shoot you a look of shame… you can simply throw up your hands in a frustrated gesture, and say something to the effect of– “What? I’m standing in line! What do you expect me to do?” The more indignant you can sound with your delivery, the better. It works every time!
Let me rephrase that. It works ALMOST every time. Occasionally, a store manager or conscientious employee will recognize me from the news and break out in a sweat. It’s like they think I’m working on some undercover investigation on stores with poor customer service. The thought of being CAUGHT by our hidden camera and winding up in a 15 second promo that airs 75 times a day is SO terrifying that they’ll do the unthinkable, and open up another lane!
Fortunately, this ain’t my first rodeo. I never move. Instead, I’ll usually pretend to be selfless, like I have ALL the time in the world, and let the other overwhelmed customers divert to the open lane. I may not get to finish the magazine, but this maneuver usually buys me enough time to at least finish an article. I’m pretty sure it drives the cashiers insane. I can always see them glance nervously at their co-workers with a look that says, “I don’t know what to do! The TV lady won’t budge!” I use the term “TV lady” because 99% of the time no one has a clue who I am or where I work. My face is just vaguely familiar enough to know that I’m on the news SOMEWHERE.
While I’m offering up advice, I might as well just pass this along too. Do NOT under any circumstances, spend an excessive amount of time reading magazines IN the magazine aisle. While that may be fine to do at Barnes and Noble or Books-A-Million, it is completely inappropriate to do it at the grocery. People don’t go to the grocery to browse. They go there to buy and leave, as quickly as possible.
In fact, whenever I see a “lingerer”, I have to resist the insatiable urge to wheel by them and whisper “They’re watching you!” under my breath. I mean, let’s just be honest, anyone who spends more than 15 minutes in a grocery aisle, is immediately going to be flagged by a security as a potential shoplifter, or at the very least… someone with severe food allergies– neither of which are favorable.
I could go on and on, but we’re out of everything. Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you at the grocery!