Saturday, June 18, 2011

At the store

I have tried, of late, to avoid peevey posts on here.

But you know, there are some things I just hate about grocery shopping.

In my town, there are essentially two grocery stores: a small, family-run one, which is nice, but lacks some of the items I regularly buy, and then there is the wal-mart.

I try to patronize the family-run place, both because I want to see them succeed, and also because I don't feel all stabby when I walk out of there (as I sometimes do with the wal-mart), but sometimes, I just have to buy certain things, and that means a trip to the wal-mart. (Also: the family-run place is a matter of blocks from my home, and the wal-mart is across town. Which isn't that far, really, except that it sometimes feels like it is.)

I try to go, when I go, early in the morning on a weekend, because that's when there are likely to be the fewest annoyances.

I've also learned not to go on the first of the month, or right after a payday. While I have a budget, I also don't live paycheck to paycheck, and so the avoiding-the-first-of-the-month was not obvious to me, until I forgot, and went a couple of times on or around the first of the month. Ugh. The place is full of people, certain products are totally gone off the shelves, there are people there who, to put it politely, don't seem to have as much practice behaving themselves in public, sometimes people bring their entire families and walk slowly down the aisles in flying wedge formation, blocking the progress of anyone else.

I know, I know, they're my neighbors and I should love them. But some of the things they do annoy me.

I also avoid the store any day they are giving out free food samples. In fact, if I walk in, see the sample stands set up, I may well walk back out. Because somehow, "free food!" passes through the community and it attracts so many people. And I don't like crowds, and I especially don't like crowds who are blocking me from, for example, getting to the case that has the eggs when I need to buy eggs.

I also try to avoid going at the end of the day if I at all can. Because at the end of the day, you have people tired and annoyed from work, you have people on cell phones with their spouses/children (often yelling at them about something), you have the tired, stressed-out afterdaycare or afterschool kids (the worst kid meltdowns I've seen at the wal-mart have been around 4 pm on a weekday). And you get stuff like people getting into the "20 items or less" lane with large quantities of stuff, and then justifying it as "But I'm in a hurry." Oh, and I suppose that I, with my carton of milk and head of lettuce, am not?

Even going early in the morning you get some annoyances. They restock in the mornings (I couldn't get the scallions I wanted today because that bin was empty, and the woman restocking produce was moving so slowly that I didn't feel like waiting around to see if they even had scallions). They use huge, propane-driven (I'm not kidding; I've seen the canisters on them) floor-cleaners that are noisy as heck and hard to work around.

And once in a while you get the early-morning cell phone talker. Either the person who can't be troubled to make a list, so they call their spouse/housemate/parent/kid/whoever shares meals with them and ask them about every product as they go down the aisles. Or you get the person who's having a convo with their BFF and can't be bothered to stop just to buy groceries. (I admit it: I don't really "get" cell phones. Oh, I carry one, and it's nice to have if your car breaks down or if construction on the road is going to make you late for a meeting or something. But I do not have that much to say in a given day that I can imagine walking around with it stuck to my head.)

But one of my biggest grocery store peeves happened this morning: the leaner-over. This is when you're checking out: you put your stuff on the conveyor belt, the cashier rings it up, and as you're paying, the next customer starts edging in, leaning over you, wanting to be rung up. This morning, it was some guy buying a tin of Gatorade powder. Dude, if you're in that big of a hurry? Ask me if you can go ahead of me. But don't breathe down my neck when I'm running my credit card through the machine - that makes me suspicious. And that's why I leaned over to body-block you from seeing my signature on the little machine - I don't always know who's just an impatient guy and who might be trying to steal a credit card number.

And it's not like I was being SLOW. I am the kind of person who has their credit card out in their hand as soon as the last grocery item is out of the cart and on the belt. And I don't use coupons. (I know, I know: it's a good way to save money. But dammit, I feel like my time is worth more than the effort of cutting them out, toting them around, buying products I might not buy otherwise...all of that to save a quarter or so. Also, I don't take a newspaper any more, so it would take actively searching out coupons and stuff). And I also never write checks for groceries; I admit to groaning inwardly more than once at the person who, after their 52 items in a 20 item lane, and their wad of coupons, says, "Oh. I want to write a check" and winds up digging in their purse (Her purse. I've never seen a man do the "oh, by the way, I want to write a check..." thing).

I just get bugged in general by people with a smaller concept of what's normal "personal space" than most people. But I really hate it when they do it in the grocery line.

A couple of other minor peeves: it seems that wal-mart is going more and more to featuring their "house brand" (which is ok for some items I've tried, and not so ok for others) and, I guess, dropping national brands. This is the kind of thing that makes me twitch. I ALREADY feel like the economy is never going to get better - I've seen a few small businesses I used to patronize go out of business, there are more empty storefronts of late in Boutiqueville (which I would have thought would have been insulated somewhat from bad times), and now this. I still remember as a kid seeing the people waiting in line for many hours for bread or onions in the Soviet Union, and I admit my mind sometimes flashes to that, especially on the first of the month when some of the shelves at the store get a bit empty. (I wonder: how did unmarried people without families manage? Did they pay someone to get their food allotment for them? Did they spend their entire day off from work each week in line to buy food?)

I don't know. I don't generally like grocery shopping and all the little annoyances add to it more.

1 comment:

Kate P said...

YES. If I didn't like picking my own produce so much (O.K., O.K., I don't like beat-up apples) I'd totally have my groceries delivered. I know at least one of my neighbors in my building has it done because I've seen the truck.

Also, you are right, there seem to be people who have to be talking every second of the day and can't even walk down the street without being on the phone. I went grocery shopping with Mom yesterday and there was a woman on the phone loudly complaining about what I easily could guess was a relative. Do they think we can't hear them? Or are we expected to try not to listen, even when the conversation is at or usually above regular conversation levels?

Really, please save your personal conversations for nonpublic locales. I don't need your personal negativity and vulgarity spewed all over my celery, thank you.