Tag Archives: grocery shopping

The Ten Commandments of Grocery Shopping

Given the fact that the employees at my local grocery store see me more than my own family does, it’s safe to say that I have quite a bit of experience pushing a full cart around.

While I generally enjoy the experience because a) I love finding and checking things off of a list and b) food, there are a few simple things that would make it better for all those involved.

Thou shall not leave your cart in an empty parking spot.

There are two kinds of people in this world: 1) those who return carts to the cart corral and 2) a-holes. Leaving a cart to find it’s own way home often results in the cart camping out in a parking spot someone will inevitably pull halfway into before realizing the cart is there and angrily backing out, pissing off people behind them. The carts have a home. Help them find their home.

Thou shall not walk down the center aisle of the parking lot.

You do not have super-human pedestrian powers that override people in their cars trying to get past or around you. Pick a side — any side — and no one gets hurt.

Thou shall travel up and down the aisle like a civilized person.

Up one side, down the other. If you’re barreling down the middle or the wrong side like a linebacker and clip my cart, I am not above throwing a shoulder. Also, try to refrain from doing a 180 halfway down a jam-packed aisle only to amble along as if you’re taking in the sights of the Louvre. It’s soup. Not the Sistine Chapel.

Thou shall obey the express line rules.

The sign says 15 items or less. It does not say, “Everything you can stick in the small-ass cart you chose instead of regular cart.” That does not refer to the number of item types, but the actual item count. For example, those 75 cans of soup that took you 15 minutes to pick out does not count as a single item. You are not a special snowflake. If everybody ignored this rule, it would just be a regular line.

Thou shalt not decide against the frozen pizza you picked up in the frozen foods section and then place it on the shelf next to the shampoo.

Really? Come on now, people.

Thou shall respect the invisible checkout line bubble of personal space.

Regardless of how close you creep up or how many items you throw on the belt, you will be next — after me. If you continue to creep up, I will pretend to go through my coupon keeper for an extraordinary amount of time and chit chat with the cashier…unless you would like to pay for my produce. In that case, you have a deal.

Thou shall treat the cashier with respect.

This means not chatting on your phone while she’s ringing up your groceries or getting ticked when she won’t accept the four expired coupons you thought she’d ignore. If you get caught trying to sneak in an expired coupon, just let it go. It’s 35-cents off of dish soap. You’ll survive.

Thou shall not stop at the exit to go over your receipt.

Once given your receipt and all 300 extra pieces of paper that get pumped out of the printer with it, do not stop and read the receipt like it’s a treasure map. There is nothing on that paper that is that important that you need to throw on the brakes and cause a backup. Move it along.

Thou shall reconsider the self-checkout.

Know your limits. Can you find a bar code on a product? Match the picture of bananas on the screen to the bananas in your cart? Flatten paper money to insert into a slot? If you answered “no” to any of those questions, don’t be a hero. Go through the normal checkout.

Thou shall not stalk for a parking spot.

Finally, do not slowly drive behind me at 5 mph impatiently waiting for my parking spot that is often only two down from another available spot. Unless you’re going to get out and help me unload my groceries into the back, your insistence on sitting there, impatiently revving the engine on your minivan, will force me to do a full vehicle check — interior and exterior — before getting back in and leaving 5 minutes later.

Thank you for shopping with us.

Have a nice day.

Originally published in 2014.

Like the blog? Buy the books and cool stuff! 

Advertisements

My Twitter Account Reads Like a Dysfunctional Food Network Show

They say you should write what you know, which is why I never write about math, sex, or spelling “camouflage” right on the first try. 

And even though my Food Network show would just be me sitting on the couch watching Food Network, it’s been brought to my attention from myself that I tweet a lot about food — eating it, pretty much daily trips to go buy it, and wearing it more than I care to admit. 

CHECKOUT

So I decided to share a few of the highlights from the past couple of months, you know, in case Food Network is reading or something…

What can I say? Bon appétit!

Like the blog? Buy the books and cool things!

zazzle.jpg

 

How to Properly Use the Grocery Belt Divider

The fact that the employees at my local grocery store know me and ask where I’ve been if I don’t stop in every couple days gives you an indication of how often I’m at the store.

But don’t worry.

This won’t be about how watching some people use the self-checkout is like watching fish ride a bike or how people still don’t know how to go up and down an aisle. 

No, this is about the plastic grocery belt dividers.

divide

I enjoy the grocery belt divider for the practicality and simplicity it provides.

Placed on the belt, it divides my order from the one in front and the one in back. There should be no confusion as to where one order starts and one order ends. If for some reason confusion does arise, it’s not hard to clarify and say, “Oh, that’s not my stuff.”

However, there are still people who are entirely too concerned that the cashier will confuse their things with the next persons, protectively creating about two feet of extra “empty” grocery belt space between their order and the divider.

Intercom announcement to this person ahead of me: I did not load up my cart and assume that I could sneak 25 items to the end of your order, dupe you into paying for them and then follow you out to the parking lot to retrieve said items.

But with that said, I do have an issue with the people behind me from time to time. While I don’t exhibit the behavior mentioned above and graciously place the divider at the end of my order, this is apparently not enough for some people. No, instead of waiting for the cashier to move the belt along, they insist on using every single square inch of belt space up to the plastic divider.

This I can overlook, as it’s their own bread they’re squishing in an effort to unload their cart at warp speed.

What I can’t overlook is when they insist on using every single square inch of personal space past the plastic divider, creeping up closer to me with their cart and sighing so heavily at the apparent lack of cashier expediency that it blows my coupons off the checkout stand.

Intercom announcement to this person behind of me: Regardless of how close you creep up or how many items you throw on the belt, you will be next—after me.

If you continue to creep up, I will pretend to go through my coupon keeper for an extraordinary amount of time, chit chat with the cashier and lift up the plastic divider and put it back down repeatedly under the guise of making room for a pack of gum I am actually just using as a prop to piss you off.

But because I’m all about solutions, I propose that instead of the grocery belt divider, we install a plastic divider in the LINE to keep the person behind me from creeping up and invading my bubble.

It could be like a shower curtain or one of those things you walk through at sporting events that simply lifts up and down when appropriate.

Now I realize this plastic divider could be symbolic of the way our society is divided and that unity can only be achieved when we remove these barriers, blah, blah, blah. People who think that are insane. I’m all about being friendly, but we need personal space—on the grocery belt and in the line.

Intercom announcement: Until they install these new plastic people dividers, please just back your shit up.

Unless, of course, you would like to pay for my produce. In that case, I welcome you with open arms and an open grocery belt.

Like the blog? Buy the books and cool things!

zazzle

Should You Use the Self-checkout?

I have written several times about the victories and defeats that happen each and every time I set foot in a grocery store–which is a minimum of four times a week–but there’s one thing I can no longer stay silent about.

Well, there are many things I can’t stay silent about, but this one is tops on the list–the self-checkout lane.

What should be an easy process–get in line, scan, pay, leave–is complicated by the fact that a) machines are machines and b) most people are not in fact smarter than the machine and make me question the whole theory of evolution.

So because I’m a helper, I have created a series of simple questions that will determine whether or not you should use the self-checkout lane.

selfcheckout

1. Can you count to 12? 

First of all, I’m referring to the Express self-checkout lanes. The sign says 12 items or less. It does not say, “Everything you can stick in the small-ass cart you chose instead of regular cart.”

And that does not refer to the number of item types, but the actual item count. For example, those 35 cans of soup that took you 15 minutes to pick out does not count as a single item. You are not a special snowflake. If everybody ignored this rule, it would just be a regular line.

So if you can’t count to 12, go through that regular line.

2. Can you form a straight line? 

In most cases, there are two sets of checkouts–three on each side. This does not mean that a line forms behind each one. There is one line–ONE LINE–that forms in the middle behind these two rows of machines.

And this is the important part: If you’re the first person in line, do not stand eight feet away from the middle of the two sides of checkouts, therefore blocking the rest of the floor for all the other shoppers and causing the line to snake all the way back through the produce section.

One line. A couple feet back from the registers. Not complicated.

3. Can you find the barcode on a product or match a picture on the screen to your product?

In order to scan an item, you have to scan the barcode. Find the barcode, scan it, and move on with your life. If there is no barcode, as is often the case with produce, they provide a menu on the screen that looks like a children’s matching game. See banana? Press banana button.

Yay! Look at you!

4. Can you put items in a bag?

You must place your scanned item in the bag. If you actually remembered to not only bring your reusable bag from home but also remembered to bring it into the store–showoff–use it and bypass trying to open the plastic bags provided (pretty good call.)

Either way, place the item in the bag. That’s it. If you put it back into your small-ass cart, the voice will yell at you that “an item has been removed.” If you place it there before you scan it, it will yell that there is an “unexpected item in bagging area.”

It’s all about timing. Scan. Place in bag. Proceed.

5. Can you flatten money to insert into the slot?

The voice coming out of the machine gives you two clear options–swipe card on the PIN pad or insert cash. That’s it. They’re telling you what to do. Don’t act surprised and look around, don’t pull out a wad of crumpled bills and expect them to be accepted, and don’t ask if you can write a check. 

You will always have to pay for your groceries. Swipe, insert bills, get a gold star. And seriously? A check? 

6. Can you move along when you’re done?

If there is a long line behind you, do not stand there when you’re done and read your receipt and all 300 extra pieces of paper that get pumped out of the printer with it like it’s a treasure map. There is nothing on that paper that is so important that you need to throw on the brakes and cause a backup.

Shuffle up a few feet and by all means, feel free to make a day out of your perusal. Just don’t block the now-vacant machine. Move it along there, buddy.

So I think that sums things up.

If you answered “no” to any of the questions above, reflect a bit on your limits, swallow your pride, and proceed to the nearest employee-manned checkout. 

Don’t be a hero.

Like the blog? Buy the books and cool things!

zazzle

This Post Is Completely Awkward

Ironically, even spelling the word “awkward” is, well, awkward. It’s just one of the small annoyingly awkward things that we’ve all faced at some point in time—usually multiple times throughout a day.

They’re unavoidable. They’re consistently awkward. They’re part of everyday life. And fortunately—unfortunately?—we can all relate…awkwardly.

hello

Bumping into someone at the grocery store and saying goodbye, only to see them in every single aisle after that.

Passing a slow driver and then getting stuck next to them at a red light where you have to pretend to busy yourself and avoid awkward eye contact.

When someone catches you accidentally staring at them…twice.

Watching a movie rated anything above PG with people you’re not that familiar with and having a steamy scene last a little too long.

When you see someone waving and think its directed to you and begin to wave back just to learn it was meant for the person behind you.

Giving an automatic reply, such as “You, too,” “Love ya, “ etc. in situations where it absolutely makes no sense.

Trying to hurry up and put your change back in your wallet while people are waiting in line behind you.

Having to go around the room and say something random about yourself while everyone sits there staring pretending to care.

Pushing on a pull door. There is always a witness.

When the dental hygienist continues to make small talk that you can’t reply to because her hand is stuffed in your mouth.

Crafting the perfect voicemail and then having someone actually pick up the phone.

When people show you a picture of a wrinkly newborn and they’re like, “Isn’t she/he cute?!?”

Putting a dirty plate in the sink when someone is doing the dishes.

When you run into someone you should probably acknowledge and talk to, but they’re talking to someone else and you have to stand there waiting for them to finish.

Thinking there is one more step than there is and taking a giant awkward step/fall over seemingly nothing.

Walking down a hallway, an aisle, etc.—and someone you know is coming towards you, but you don’t want to make eye contact too soon. But you don’t want to miss that window, so you look at them , quickly look away, then look up again a second later.

Being with a group of people or in a quiet room, taking a drink of water, and having it go down the wrong pipe causing you to launch into a spastic coughing fit.

Trying to walk past someone on a motorized scooter without looking like you’re trying to race them.

When something you’re wearing or sitting on makes a noise that sounds like it could’ve been a fart and then trying to cover it up so everyone knows it wasn’t a fart.

Being stuck in the break room with a coworker you don’t know that well and forcing small talk while you wait to use the microwave.

Talking on the phone and interrupting each other over and over, eventually ending up with dead air, and “no, you go ahead” back and forth.

Accidentally walking into the wrong bathroom, or walking into the right one and making incidental eye contact with someone through the crack of the stall door.

Asking a question, ignoring the answer and being too ashamed to ask again because they’ll know you weren’t paying attention the first time.

Running into someone you’ve met a few times, having them call you by name, and having no clue what their name is.

Making eye contact with the store employee while trying to refold a shirt and put it back on the shelf.

Standing there on the other end of the leash while you wait for your dog to do his “business,” and then waving at someone with the plastic bag full of dog poop in your hand.

Being left alone with a person you kind of know yet have no interest in getting to know better while the third mutual friend steps out of the room.

The complex decision-making process of figuring out the right time to go into the revolving door, and if there’s time to go in there with someone or wait it out.

Having the toilet clog or not flush anywhere other than at your own house and being forced to let someone know.

Say goodbye to somebody and then realizing that you’re both walking the same way at the same pace.

Going into a store and deciding not to buy anything and being paranoid the staff thinks you’re shoplifting.

What would you add to the list?

Like the blog? Buy the books and cool things!

zazzle

P.S. For some reason the text with this post runs over onto the images on the right for a few people. I don’t know why because I’m not a freaking genius. However, I’ve found if you refresh the page, that weirdness goes away–not the weirdness of the post, but of the spacing. 

The Seven Deadly Sins of the Parking Lot

No matter what your opinion is on shopping, there’s one thing we can all agree on — the parking lot is a paved hell. It should be simple. Park the car, get out of the car, go about your business. But there are always a few who go to the dark side and ruin it for everyone else.

Lust

Lusting after a closer parking spot turns many people into Parking Spot Stalkers so overcome with desire for your spot that they dedicate themselves to claiming it for their own. 

While the logic employed by the Parking Spot Stalker makes sense—a closer spot is often more desirable than one farther away— there can be a troubling gray area when it comes to their actions. If it’s dark out and you’re a woman being followed by a car creeping up behind you like Charles Manson in a Volvo, it’s safe to assume they’re not sightseeing and it’s hard not to feel as if you’re about to become a special on Dateline.   

And God forbid if you forget where you park and have to cut through across the lane to find your car, as they’ll think it was an intentional move on your part, speed past you with a look of disgust and be forced to park in a spot that’s a full 10 feet farther away.

Envy

When lust gets overtaken by blinding envy, you are presented with the Parking Spot Rusher. This driver is so envious of your spot that they don’t patiently keep a safe distance back, turn on their blinker and wait. No, along with blocking other people from passing, they keep creeping up closer and closer while rolling their eyes and sighing so loudly you can hear it through two layers of car window glass.

parking

This just in: The person in the parking spot cares more about trying to load a week’s worth of groceries into the trunk of their car before trying to strap a tired and cranky kid into a car seat than you finding a suitable spot at that second. Unless you’re going to get out and help them load up the car, just keep a safe distance back.

Gluttony

There are certain people who feel themselves to be above the laws of parking space lines and take up two or three spots. They presumably feel their vehicle is so pristine and important that the thought of the unwashed masses coming near it can’t even be entertained. You’re not a special snowflake. Color inside the lines.

Greed

While envy and lust can cause people to act out in pursuit of a prime parking location, it’s also up to the person who parked there not to let that position of power go to their head. When walking in a parking lot, it’s important to make your intentions clear. If you’re leaving and sense the parking lot stalker, a simple nod at your car will suffice to alert them that yes, you will be leaving.

If you’re going back into the store, shake your head so they can journey down the lot and continue to stalk someone else.

Sloth

The grocery carts have a home. The carts like to go to their home, which is clearly marked and not hidden in some cart corral cave accessible only through a series of security measures and secret handshakes. Moms who have to do their shopping with youngsters in tow get a pass—as long as they make an effort to put the cart where it won’t obstruct someone else’s ability to park—but for everyone else, laziness is no excuse.

A shopping cart left to run amok could possibly cause a great deal of damage and injury, not to mention those abandoned in empty spots will inevitably cause someone to pull halfway in before realizing the cart is there and angrily backing out, pissing off people behind them. Nobody wins.

Wrath

How many times have you been driving through a parking lot when out of nowhere some lunatic comes speeding at you from the opposite direction—ignoring the yellow lines and arrows painted on the ground— and nearly causes a head-on collision?

News flash: Just because you’re pissed your wife sent you back to the store for tampons doesn’t mean the rules of the road don’t exist when a trip to Costco is involved. Follow the yellow brick road, so to speak. The arrows are there for a reason.

Pride

They say pride comes before the fall, and this applies to pedestrians walking down the middle of the lane as if they have super-human pedestrian powers that override people in their cars trying to get past or around them. Pick a side—any side—and no one gets hurt.

Like the blog? Buy the books and cool things!

zazzle

P.S. Facebook has changed it’s reach AGAIN and only 5-10 percent of people are seeing my updates. To ensure you’re not missing a thing, add my Facebook page to your “Interests” lists, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

A Serenity Prayer for the Grocery Store

serenityprayer

As I walk through the automatic door, I will be calm and choose a grocery cart that will sufficiently carry my goods—not the small one that some other people jam to the brim on both levels because choosing a larger cart seemed too cumbersome.

I will gently wipe the handle with the provided disinfecting wipe, place it in the trash can and not on the floor with the others and proceed to the produce section.

Hmm…the wheel is wonky and OH MY GOD I JUST VEERED INTO A DISPLAY OF TRISCUITS AND EVERYONE IS LOOKING!

Deep breath.

Accept that they’re Triscuits and most likely already dry, smashed wheat in the box and remember it could have been worse, like glass jars or pop. I will courageously continue my journey, taking more time to pick out a head of broccoli and asparagus than I took to pick out my shirt, and then proceed to the rest of the store.

Great. This idiot is barreling down the middle of the aisle like a linebacker and refuses to obey the conventional commandments of a civilized grocery society. But some people never learn, and while I’m not above throwing a shoulder or putting my best foot forward to trip him, instead I will move to the side.

Karma doesn’t have an expiration date, my friend.

However, this container of hummus in my cart does and every second that I’m stuck behind this woman examining cans of soup like they’re a treasure map is a second that I’m nearing the date on my hummus. I’ll just swerve around and…of course. The other side is blocked by an employee with a cart full of boxes that he needs to stock.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Everything in good time, and by “everything,” of course I mean hummus.

My cart sufficiently filled with items that I can remember from the list I left at home on the counter-minus the three things they didn’t have in stock even though they’re on sale-I will make my way to one of the two open checkout lanes and hope I can break my streak of picking the one with the latest cashier-in-training.

Look at that! I’m second in line…behind a woman with 42 cans of cat food that need to be individually rung up and a variety of Lean Cuisine meals, all defrosting and blocking the UPC code to be scanned.  

That’s okay. No big deal.

I’ll distract myself with the magazines conveniently placed in the lane so I can flip through and not actually buy them. Let’s see: How to lose weight and gain friends, how to make recipes that will help you lose weight and gain friends, what celebrities have lost weight and gained friends. Oh yes, and Reader’s Digest.

Just breathe and don’t allow the incessant beeping of the 42 cans of cat food being scanned sear my brain and instead look to the other side of the lane—batteries, dog treats, lip balm and aspirin.

I think I might need that last one, because seriously? This woman is now debating two expired coupons and I’m about to just give her the 50 cents she would have saved in order to move this along. And is that…a checkbook? Now she’s going to write up a check?

Deep breath.

See? Now your groceries are being rung up and bagged and the light is at the end of the tunnel. Swipe the card, thank the cashier, grab the receipt and all 300 extra pieces of paper that get pumped out of the printer with it and head for the doors. Just steer your cart toward the car and…where the hell did I park?  

SERENITY NOW!

Well. at least there’s hummus.

For that, I’ll give an “amen.”

Like the blog? Buy the books and cool things!

zazzle

P.S. Facebook has changed it’s reach AGAIN and only 5-10 percent of people are seeing my updates. To ensure you’re not missing a thing, add my Facebook page to your “Interests” lists, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.