After my shopping experience Saturday, I have decided that there should be some laws governing behavior at grocery stores, and that the penalty for not following said laws should be that violators have to clean all the muck out of the salad bar station using nothing more than a squeegee and a sprayer (this was my end-of-night task the summer I worked as a salad-bar clerk, and believe you me, this is torture.)
At the risk of sounding like a 90-year-old, people today have no manners or sense of common courtesy. I've ranted once about a-holes in movie theaters; but who would've thunk that our society has deteriorated to the point that you can't even shop for food without some inconsiderate, self-centered morons ticking you off?
So, here is my manifesto. Just as Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the church door and sparked a revolution, I would like to nail the following commandments of grocery behavior to the cyber door of this blog. Perhaps it will start a revolution of awareness at the local food store. I doubt it, though; the people who really need to read this are probably too busy shouting into their cell phones while changing lanes on the interstate or talking back to the characters in the latest blockbuster movie playing down at the Cineplex.
To Shoppers, Everywhere: A Few Simple Requests to Make It More Pleasant For Everyone
1. Get off your phone.
I don't get this. Yes, we all carry cell phones. Yes, yours will probably ring while you're shopping. If it's an emergency, take care of it. But if it's your BFF Jill, or your significant other, and he/she just wants to chit chat about his/her day, or share the latest soccer-mom drama, or discuss custody arrangements (I swear to you I heard a woman work out the custody schedule for an entire school year with her ex one day at Kroger), tell the person you'll call them back when you get home. You might think that you can handle a conversation while performing this chore, but trust me, you can't. People drive like crap when they talk on the phone and they shop like crap when they talk on the phone. You're going to stop your cart right in the middle of the aisle at some point to laugh/listen/respond wittily and when you do that, you're going to be oblivious to the fact that there are others behind you who would like to get past you to get a can of cream of chicken soup. You're going to hover for 30 minutes in front of the macaroni and cheese and boxed dinners because you'll be so busy describing your darling son's stomach virus and how it kept you up all night long that you won't be able to decide on Velveeta or Kraft (and your colorful description are going to completely put me out of the mood to buy either. )But you'll be in your own little world, and while you're having a grand ole time, you're going to waste our time. In addition, you will pull your cart out of the aisles without looking and cause near-collisions without so much as an acknowledgement or apology (probably because you're so wrapped up in your conversational needs that you aren't even aware there could be other people in the store at 1pm on a Saturday.) There's a reason why many states pass laws against driving while talking. Think about that and keep your phone in your frickin' purse. Please.
2. Keep track of your children.
Before you freak out on me, know that I am a mom, too. I understand the perils of dragging young children to the store when they would rather be somewhere, anywhere, else. I know that no child is going to behave like an angel all the time. But you are the adult. It is your job to at least know where your kids are. And to keep them from getting underfoot. This one isn't just about annoyance; it's about basic safety. I saw a kid pull a huge can of vegetables off the shelf and onto his head once because his mom was (you guessed it) on her cell phone and not paying attention. And then she screamed at her kid for doing a very kid-like thing when she's the one who needed to step up and stop him. There are big carts, other distracted adults, and heavy items a-plenty at the store; be responsible for your kids.
3. Have some semblance of a clue about what you want BEFORE you walk in the doors.
Don't get me wrong; I like to browse a little and explore options and examine prices, too. But I've seen people spend as much time in front of the wall o'cereal as I spend putting my face on in the morning, and that's just waaaaaay too long. When you do this, you're in everyone's way who actually knows what kind of cereal they want and just needs to grab a box of frakkin' Honey Nut Cheerios, already. If you seriously can't decide whether you want Honey Bunches of Oats with or without almonds, or if the five new varieties of Shredded Mini Wheats are that overwhelming, take a breather, step out of the way, and let those of us who have eaten the same brands for 3 decades now get what they need and get on with their day.
4. Follow the same traffic rules you would (or should) in your car.
Stay to the right. Look both ways. Stop at intersections. And for the love of God keep moving whenever possible. You would not think this is hard. But you'd be amazed at the number of people who think they have right of way in every situation every single time because they're just that much more important than the rest of us. Or the number of people that are just absolutely clueless. Saturday a woman was in the baking aisle and stopped right in the middle of it. Her cart was not pulled over to either side; it was just smack dab in the middle keeping traffic blocked in both directions. To add to the fun, she was wandering back and forth and up and down all around the cart. After she eventually realized that people were standing to her right and her left who were not moving (and not because we were amazed by the boxed brownie selection, but because we needed to get through,) she said snippily, "You all can come on through. I'm trying to find cake flour." To which I wanted to scream, "No, actually, WE CAN'T!" She moved her cart just enough that I could get through, but the poor guy on the other side still had to wait for her to find her flour. We really needed a flagger, because at that point we were a one-lane highway.
5. If you have special requests at the checkout, such as needing only one item per bag, or wanting twenty cartons of the hardest-to-locate cigarettes, or if you need to pay for your groceries as five separate orders, don't get in front of me. I understand you have your needs, just please don't do it if you're in my checkout lane. How will you know who I am? I'll be the brunette with glasses sporting a mean glare.
Am I being too harsh? Or do we need rules?
Holler back, and let me know what rules YOU would like to see at the grocery.