Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Supermarket Etiquette

Life here in the handbasket always provides me with a rich source of stories that I can share with you all.

Sometimes I wonder if I will ever run out of things to write about, and then some event happens through the course of the day and…ta da!

We’re getting used to not having to stand in line at the checkout for most stores these days, because they seem to be very proactive when it comes to maintaining short wait times. After all, they know that if you have to stand in line for 20 minutes while your milk sours and your frozen foods become naught, you will probably be finding someplace else to shop.

My tale begins while standing in an unusually long line at Albertsons.

The lady in front of me is reading one of the impulse magazines while waiting for her turn to checkout. Her little girl is swinging on the candy bar-filled “closed” rack that can be used to shut down a checkout line, and her son is playing some hand-held Gameboy device. The son, in between rounds on the Gameboy, was running from isle to isle, grabbing handfuls of candy bars and other health foods and tossing them in the basket.

Once the belt became free for her to start placing her groceries onto it, she bends over slightly and picks up one item, and slowly places it on the belt. While she is performing this ballet move, she has not taken her nose out of the magazine.

Obviously it was a good article, because she repeated this maneuver over and over as her items moved down the belt like an episode from “I Love Lucy” where her and Ethel were working in the chocolate factory. One piece at a time.

Now the checkout lady was watching her since she had a line of folks and this lady was slowing her down, as she had to wait for each item to make it to her little scanning device.

Finally, we thought relief was on the way when she backed up, still reading I might add, and let her son load the groceries on the little belt.

You know how they say you set the example for your children? Her son began placing items, one at a time, onto the belt while playing on his Gameboy.

The rest of us in line began sharing those looks that people do when you all want to just scream at someone, but you’re being polite. Have you ever just felt like yelling at the top of your lungs, “Oh c’mon lady!”?

Apparently she had finished the article, because she had reached back and placed the magazine back in the rack. No wonder she did not want to stop, she had no intention of purchasing the magazine, she just wanted to read it all in the store.

As the cart emptied out, I noticed an empty can of Cherry Pepsi sitting on that little seat where kids sit. I can only surmise that one of this carefree group drank it while in the store and did not include it in their purchase. You know the type. The people you see grazing on things in the produce isle.

By this time, checkout lady was trying to get their now empty basket pushed through the walkway so they could start loading it up on the other side. Which was great because they had just left it between the conveyor belt device and me.

Her focus finally on the matter at hand, this lady was intently watching the total as the last pieces of her groceries made the conveyor journey. Can you guess what happened next? That’s right, she exclaims in a surprised voice, “Oh, this is going over $200”.

With a great show of patience, the checkout lady began removing items so that the total would make it under $200. Since she had a limited budget, why on Earth did she just sit there and watch her kids throw armloads of candy into her basket?

I’m sure many of you have been in the situation where you did not have enough money to pay for something and had to go through the “put it back” scenario. This was not really what made this situation amusing. The amusing part was the entire series of events, and watching it all unfold right in front of me like a well rehearsed sitcom.

The scary thing is that this lady goes forth from the grocery store and functions every day, all day long, just like this. I can’t imagine her dealing with driving.

Most people in the front of a very long line will show a sense of urgency. Most people who know they only have a certain amount to spend at the grocery store would not just throw tons of extra stuff in their cart. Most people would be controlling their kids at least a little.

This was my shopping experience last night.

Sunday I take off for Baltimore, MD for a week, and I can almost guarantee that I will have things to share with you from my trip.

No comments:

Post a Comment