A Day at the “Zoo,” by Rich Paschall

Let’s start out with a sweeping generalization, shall we? Most guys do not like to spend a lot of time in the grocery store.  I know generalizations are a bad thing … generally … but we seem to be in an era of generalizations, so let’s proceed.

Do you know many guys who want to wander up and down the aisles with you?

When my mother was getting older, she was often looking to be taken to the store.  This happy duty usually came my way.  After she recovered from a stroke, it always came my way.  She was unable to go it alone.  At first we would go slowly up and down all of the aisles, and I do mean all the aisles of the Jewel (you may know them as Albertson’s).  As it became more difficult, we would go down the first aisle, along the back and down the last aisle.  Then I would get sent down each aisle in search of items that may or may not be there.  I guess it was good exercise for us both, in different ways.  That doesn’t mean I liked it any.

At one time, I had a room-mate who loved to go up and down each aisle.  I hated these trips.  He had to stop and discover things along the way.  I never saw a trip to the store as a treasure hunt.  I have items in mind.  I like to get them and go.  That does not mean I will not get sucked into an impulse buy like many others, but I try to keep that at a minimum.


It is sad to see shopping carts all over the parking lot, especially if that means there are none inside.  You might think that a large supermarket chain could employ enough teenagers to keep the lots clear.  It is not always the case, and stray carts can really be a hazard.  None of this has to be.


The German supermarket chain, Aldi, has solved the cart problem.  They are all chained together at the entrance.  If you put a quarter in the first one, it releases the chain but holds the quarter.  When you return the cart and insert the link from another cart, your quarter comes back to you.  This means there are no carts rolling around the lot, no teenagers banging them into your car, and no lack of carts at the entrance.  It is amazing that the quarter will inspire you to bring the cart back.

Handicapped parking spots

One of the things that annoys me the most about these trips is the abuse of handicapped parking.  Before I even get in the store, I have spotted one or more people using a handicapped spot who clearly did not need it.  Maybe you have your mother’s handicapped parking card in the car with you, that does not give you the right to use it when dear old mom is at home reading the supermarket tabloids.  If it is not yours, don’t use it.

There are times when the handicapped person is with someone, but has no intention of getting out of the car on a short stop.  That means the car can be parked anywhere.  Do not deprive someone of a close spot who really needs it.  The high fines do not seem to deter anyone here as the police are reluctant to go onto private property to enforce the rules.

Promotional giveaways

From the time my mother retired until the time she could no longer do it, she did part-time work for one of those companies that give away promotional items in stores.  This is especially prevalent on weekends when the “samples” ladies are handing out all kinds of little goodies for your trip.  The real purpose is to entice you into buying something you would likely pass by.  I do not think they ever offered me something I bought, and they slow down my quick exit to the checkout.

Stock the shelves

Okay, I get it.  You can run out of items on a shelf mid-morning on a Saturday and need to restock something.  Nevertheless, I never understand why there is a large skid blocking an entire aisle I wish to go down.  It is as if they have waited to spring this trap on some of us who were not otherwise willing to wonder around the back of the store.

Price check

In this day of modern technology, is there anything more annoying than getting to the checkout and your item does not scan.  “Price check on aisle 3” is the last thing I want to hear if I am already in aisle 3.  This generally means some reluctant teenager named Josh or Jason or Justin will show up to see the item and then set off on his own treasure hunt to find another and the price.

With any luck at all he will return quickly or call with the price.  This is the sort of thing that makes me grab a Slim Jim (some sort of beef and chemical stick) and throw it on my pile so I can eat it on the way home.

Bag it

Does a little Bagging 101 course seem to be needed by those in your supermarket who put your items in a bag?  It is not that I don’t want the warm items, if I buy any, put in with the frozen items, but I don’t.  Food goes with food, non-food items together, cold together, warm together.  Distribute the weight.  It is not rocket science, even for a gum chewing teen.

One of the laws passed here is you bring your own bag or pay the 7 cent tax per bag.  This is good and reduces waste.  I always bring enough bags, so I am never pleased when the bagger puts lots of cans and bottles in one, light items in another, and hands me back empty bags they did not use.  It means I re-bag the items when I get to my car.

Next week

Do I have to go again?

Author: Rich Paschall

When the Windows Live Spaces were closed and our sites were sent to Word Press, I thought I might actually write a regular column. A couple years ago I finally decided to try out a weekly entry for a year and published something every Sunday as well as a few other dates. I reached that goal and continued on. I hope you find them interesting. They are my Sunday Night Blog. Thanks to the support of Marilyn Armstrong you may find me from time to time on her blog space, SERENDIPITY. Rich Paschall Education: DePaul University, Northeastern Illinois University Employment: Air freight professional

31 thoughts on “A NOT SO SUPER MARKET TRIP”

  1. I have one tiny little quibble with this piece and that is that you cannot tell if someone needs a handicapped pass by looking at them. I’ve had people attack me for using my pass because they don’t think I look like I need it. Less now that I’m older, but for years, I took a lot of abuse. Not all disabilities are easily visible. You’d need x-ray vision to see how damaged my spine is. I’m by no means alone in this. You can look perfectly normal and have a lot of trouble getting from the car to the carts.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, I agree totally. You can not tell if someone has difficulty by looking at them. I do observe, however, people who hop out out of the car without any apparent problem and walk briskly into the store. I observed at the Walgreens two guys laughing about using the spot as they went inside. Yes, I heard them clearly and was rather pissed about it.
      I try not to judge because I have a handicapped card and difficulty walking at times, but you could not tell it if I am just standing somewhere or walking slowly. Sometimes, however, it is obvious to me there is abuse. I have seen dear old mom or dad stay in the car while young ones run into the store. The car could have been parked elsewhere. I used the handicapped spot all the time with mom, unless I dropped her off at the door and went to park the car. Now I use it sometimes, depending on my back and leg. Only one time in my life did I see a policeman chase someone out of a handicapped spot who did not need it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We have had this as an issue at home, too. It isn’t a convenience to save you from having to walk around the lot. But I also see a lot of people who really SHOULD have a handicapped pass who don’t seem to realize there is help. My son got a $500 ticket and he didn’t even use it. He wasn’t IN a handicapped space, but the ticket was showing, so they ticketed him anyway. Go figure.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Rich, this one is near and dear to my heart!!

        I’m one of those guys who, if shopping “solo”, can zip through the aisles, getting everything on the shopping list. Sometimes I time myself. It’s like a “Wide, Wide World of Sports” event for me. As I exit the supermarket, cart full of groceries, I look at my watch, a big smug — almost “45-ish” smile on my face and quietly proclaim in a Howard Cosell-Marv Albert manner, “Yesssss!!”. That’s shopping scenario #1.

        Scenario#2 — I’m on my game as I begin shopping. First stop — Produce section. As I check over the tomatoes, A cougar lady in stilletos, low cut tank top and stretch jeans — strikes up a conversation about how nice it is to see a man know how to handle the tomatoes. I switch into my TV guy mode, wrap the chat and move on. Next aisle, it’s the “groupies”. Folks who grew up watching me on TV. They’re blocking my access to the pasta sauce, etc. I do two or three minutes of my greatest hits and then move on. The deli section is always difficult. There are two or three people buying a quarter pound of everything and they must taste a piece to make sure it’s quality stuff. Oy!! Okay, I’m trying to make up ground, taking short cuts through various aisles and BAM — elderly people, crying kids and a Mr. Know it all, blocking access. I silently curse their birthrights and smile my TV guy smile. Finally, finally the checkout counter. Groceries bags are lined up in front of my stuff on the counter. The “hot and cold” bags are clearly open and to be used for frozen food, meat, etc. I slowly and clearly explain how the bags should be used. You know — perishables into the “hot and cold” bags, pack evenly ( I always bring EXTRA shopping bags) so I don’t wind up lugging overloaded bags. What was I thinking?? It’s like I was speaking to Klingons. Outside, I repack stuff at the car, loudly cursing the gods. The drive home is slow, very slow. Probably the same folks who blocked the supermarket aisles.

        Scenario#3 — I enter the supermarket, eyeball the “self check out” section. Do I have the smarts?? I promise myself to try. I can do it. Fast forward: I approach the checkout counters, eyeball the “self check out” counter. No! I don’t have the courage. No true grit. Maybe next time!!

        (I left out the folks who still ask why I don’t have “my people” shop for me. Yeah!)

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I know a man who walks every aisle, every time. I don’t go to the supermarket with him. Ever. If he mentions it, I get a headache, or need to clean the oven, or stick my head in there (it’s electric).

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Our Shoprite has someone collecting those stray carts and bringing them back, a system I like. The quarter system not so much, and the few stores that use it people usually come out and give their cart to someone to avoid the whole thing. Not everyone carries change with them, so that’s reason enough for me to go elsewhere. I loathe food shopping which is why I order from Fresh Direct whenever I can – they send me free delivery coupons and the guy brings the boxes right into the kitchen… it’s magic!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We have Peapod which is like Fresh Direct, I think. It is a virtual supermarket, so fun to use. I always have change in the car, so a quarter to use the cart is OK with me. I can see it is a problem if you have no quarter with you.


    2. We used to return all our carts to the front door, but the handicapped kid who collects them complained that if everyone returned them, he wouldn’t have a job. Now we leave them in the “crib” in the lot.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. If i get out of the car and see a stray cart, I rertrieve it and take it in with me. I get the cart to use, no one has to hunt it down. I see a lot of people doing that now, and it just makes sense.

    I’ve never seen a supermarket around here that did not have a cart collector person out there, herding carts into the lobby of the stores…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I must admit I don’t like shopping either. Not only is it frustrating, it is exhausting, but somebody has to do it. I think that may even be a new job designation.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I enjoy grocery shopping. I love finding new stuff and sometimes my wife even likes my finds. Also, I can get all the stuff I like.
    Slow people in the store and on the road drive me nuts. So I go very early or late.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Reblogged this on rjptalk and commented:

    Shopping is not one of my favorite chores. It has to be done and sometimes “roomie” comes with to slow me down. Here are my various thoughts. Do you feel the same? Be sure to click on “View original post” at the bottom to follow over to SERENDIPITY for the entire article.


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