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.
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.
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.
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.
Do I have to go again?