Monday, June 13, 2011

Combat Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping in general is a form of utter torture for me and something my wife nearly has to hold a gun to my head in order to force me to leave the house and go do. Because of this, it is my usual habit when I cannot avoid making a run to buy whatever food items we need to do it either very late at night or very early in the morning. Now this brings up a whole other world of trouble like the time I thought I was being very shrewd and left the house to go shopping at two o’clock in the morning.

Being that I live in what I call a cancerous suburban tumor during the usual times to shop every grocery store is a madhouse of self-righteous assholes running around grabbing stuff off shelves, while talking on a cell phone, and believing they are ordained by God to have the right of way in everything. Trying to avoid as many of these suburbanite animals as possible I decided one day to do the shopping when I thought all God’s children would be home in bed, that way I could zip in and find the stuff I need and be out without any hassle. Instead, I was introduced to a whole other world of crazy featuring one fellow carrying on conversations about basketball with the stack of cantaloupes in the fruit section.

Strictly speaking, I only heard one side of the discussion but from what I could understand, the cantaloupes were making more sense with the gentleman asking me my opinion as I walked by. After hearing my opinion he was so distraught at me taking the side of the fruit that since then I have slightly tempered my desire at solitude while shopping with the need come home to my family alive.

Unfortunately, when the desperate need of some missing ingredient for one of my wife’s culinary creations arrives she is more than ready to force me to make a grocery run during the crowded daytime hours. Such was the case a couple of weeks ago and after a certain amount of screeching from her and gnashing of teeth by me, I dutifully hopped in my car and drove to the grocery store. It was late Saturday afternoon and as expected it was full of good citizens returning from a day of rest and recreation.

This particular grocery store can be called “upper scale” on the consumerist pecking order with the one benefit for me at having scores of hot suburban moms and or female professionals shopping there so they can easily obtain the organically grown veggies, freshly made sushi, and gourmet bottled water. Instead, with it being a very hot and sunny spring day it was crawling with people returning from boating on a nearby man-made lake called Lake Murray. This had the effect of increasing everyone’s frazzled nature and making my mission more complicated.

Part of the problem is always my fault, see even with a list I cannot just run into the store and buy what I need. The items written down never correspond to how the aisles are organized, I have to walk every lane picking up what I need and then crossing it off the list. That way I do not lose track and miss something on the list only to discover this fact after returning home. Never a good experience since the missing items usually is the linchpin in whatever my wife is cooking that day.

Exacerbating my shopping woes are my fellow customers who somehow instinctively know to block the exact section of an aisle I need to get at something. The other problem is my own ignorance, which gets in the way as I block sections myself trying to read my wife’s handwriting and decipher which size, brand, and variety of an item she wants. This issue is so bad at times that once I ran into one of my wife’s friends and asked her to read the list; she looked at it for several seconds, stifled a giggled, and handed the piece of paper back telling me good luck.

Somehow, I made do but not before dragging the grocery store staff into my tribulations when things get very bad. One trip had me searching for baking chocolate with me finding seven varieties but not the one written down on the list, not having a cell phone I borrowed the store phone and called my wife to get clarification. With further information, I dragged some hapless teenage stocker and eventually an equally unfortunate assistant manager into my epic search. Even the stockroom in back was explored and all three of us came to believe that form of baking chocolate simply did not exist. I thanked my new friends and walked away remembering the army gives campaign awards for similar efforts.

Getting back to my recent Saturday excursion, I flew through the aisles dodging the various customers like tumbling asteroids or alien space ships. In my head, I was imagining myself as some fighter jock blasting them with photon torpedoes and phasers if they got too close to my ship. For those blocking a section of a shelf where I needed to grab a particular can or bag I approached them like you would an unknown dog. I slowly came in from their front moving cautiously, while reaching for the product I wanted, with no sudden movements allowing time for me to penetrate their limited awareness. My main reason for this is my size and stature I have been likened several times to the old James Bond villain “Jaws” played by Richard Kiel. It is an unflattering comparison, to say the least, but I often think of those I live amongst as well-off proles so I just call it even.

As my task was drawing to a close, I had one last item on the list and it was simple, sour cream, this meant no long searches looking for it or debate about which type, it was going to be a quick flyby in the dairy aisle and I was gone. Doing warp speed down the rear of the grocery store, I honed in on the section where all the sour cream was stocked but immediately spotted a problem.

Being at least somewhat observant of those around me, I have discerned more than one type of customer who blocks sections of a grocery store aisle. The most common being the person on a cell phone who gets caught up in a conversation openly revealing intimate details of their lives while somehow becoming transfixed in time and space believing they are back home. Disturbing such people will get you an odd, surprised look or for those completely braindead a, “Do you mind, I’m on the phone,” response. Of course, I’m the type who is desperately trying to find an item but at least I’m conscious of those around me and do my best to limit the obstruction and even help someone like me.

The final species of aisle blocker is the type who literally seems overwhelmed with the choices they face. Such was the case with the lady blocking not only the sour cream but the cream cheese and cottage cheese sections of the dairy aisle. She was pushing one fully loaded shopping cart and pulling another, and as I approached, she was literally just staring off into space between the two.

It was beyond eerie, almost like she was a Stepford wife whose robot brain needed a reboot. After watching her for about a minute, I decided against trying to either disturb her fugue state or reach around her, the sour cream being smack in the middle of where she stood. The absolute last thing I needed was her returning to consciousness thinking I was trying to cop a feel. I drifted over to the magazine section and leafed through Scientific America, Popular Science, and the latest edition of Cosmopolitan since it had an article exclaiming “79 great positions guys want during sex but are afraid to ask.” Just FYI ladies, positions 9, 16, and 25 will pretty much keep us guys happy and positions 55 and 62 are just best left for the young with strong backs, us older guys cannot handle them.

I returned to the dairy section about five minutes later and saw that Stepford lady had moved a few feet but was now fixated on the brands of cheddar cheese. Not wanting to stay any longer, especially with a new wave of arriving customers flowing through the sliding doors I ventured closer knowing I would have to disturb the lady so I could pay for my stuff and leave. Shades of cantaloupe guy flashed through my head as I caught the lady mumbling about the various brands of cheddar. All told, I have to admit there were about twenty brands of cheddar cheese and I have to ask do we really need so many brands of freaking mild cheddar cheese? The same goes with shampoo, dog food, mouth wash, deodorant, and a thousand other brands of crap Madison Avenue has brainwashed us into believing add something special to our lives.

After snatching a container of generic sour cream, I rushed to the check out and left figuring I will return to late night shopping. Having to deal with the roving bands of consumerist drones is just too much for me, I would rather have the company of some loner talking basketball scores to the fruit, Hell I would rather talk with the fruit if you want to know the truth, they are probably more intelligent.


Akelamalu said...

I do like you - up and down each aisle checking off my list as I go. However, there is one difference - I actually enjoy it. ;) LOL

Lowandslow said...

I feel your pain. Once my (ex) wife sent me to the store to buy one 8 ounce package of cream cheese, except she wrote it "1 8 oz cream cheese". It doesn't come in packages that can be combined to equal 18 ounces, so I bought 20 ounces, thinking she could just approximate 18 ounces. She went all postal on me asking why I bought so much #@$%^& cream cheese? I just don't understand grocery shopping shorthand.


Commander Zaius said...

Akelamalu: In fairness I do not even like shopping in places guys are suppose to enjoy like electronic shops. I don't really need anything and its all more of a hassle than its worth.

LowandSlow: My wife's shopping lists use to be far worse as far as being able to read. Notes were all over the place with some items scratched out only to be rewritten further down. I absolutely went on strike one time refusing to go until she did better.

Did the same sort of thing with the cream cheese twice, at least I like bagels and it all was used.

Mr. Charleston said...

I pretend I'm a race driver and overtake and cut-off other drivers like Mario Andretti. If I can two-wheel the cart around the produce section I'm all smiles.

Windsmoke. said...

I know exactly how you feel that's why at the end of night shift around 6am when most supermarkets down here in Oz open i'd be first through the door no crowds or other customers to hold me up in and out like a flash since i only have to shop for myself :-).

Sherry said...

Having a husband who is,ummm, shopping challenged the way you seem to be, I do the shopping myself. If he is going somewhere and is passing a nice easy convenience store I might ask him to pick me up something.

On his last trip to Lowes, I asked him if he'd pick me up a candy bar. An hour later I get a call because he couldn't remember if I'd said Milky Way or 3 Musketeers. I never eat Milky Ways. :D

goatman said...

Just be sure to never go shopping while hungry. You will end up with much detritus and flotsam that looked good at the time but works out to be useless at home. Example: those giant mushrooms -- what the hell is that -- and raw, unripe melons which cannot be ripened by any method known by me. Also, never buy green bananas, seems like a good idea at the time but they go directly to rotten without going through the expected ripened stage.

Be interesting to see what "melon guy" had in his basket.

Commander Zaius said...

Mr. Charleston: LOL!!!!
I figure more guys would shop if the attached steering wheels or jet fighter joysticks to the shopping carts.

Windsmoke: It really is the best way for a guy to shop, its the sudden and unexpected runs that cause my problems. I actually could have written the entire post on the strange people I seen late at night in the local grocery stores.

Sherry: Yes, I freely admit I shopping challenged. Now you did bring up an area of continuing issue between my wife and I, she will tell me to pick up a certain item like ice cream giving me a two choices she likes. More times than I can believably decribe I have gone to the store only to find neither of her choices there. That bring up a confusing situation, do I buy what I believe is the next best thing or just skip her item. No matter what I do I always do the wrong thing, if I buy a different brand of ice cream than what she mentioned I am wrong, if I skip her item she will tell me I should have just bought the first thing I saw.

This has gotten so bad as far as rental movies are concerned she has to go pick the movies.

Goatman: Yeah, I have a bad habit of going to the grocery store while hungry. I usually come back with five or six items not on the list.

The melon guy had what looked to be a normal basket of stuff. Except now that you mention it I seen to remember seeing a Michelle Malkin book. I can easily deal with talking fruit that book does mean the bastard was batshit crazy.

Pixel Peeper said...

Ssshhh...don't tell anyone, but I actually like shopping for groceries. I'll always check out at least one or two grocery stores any place I go on vacation.

For some reason, I must look like a figure of authority to other people. I get constantly approached by other customers asking me questions. How do you know the cantaloupe is ripe? Where is the baking chocolate? Are you Chinese? Do you know where the soy sauce is? Do you think the homeless cat that came to my porch might like this cat food?

Wait a minute ... was that you in the Walmart about five years ago who asked about the cantaloupe???

Ranch Chimp said...

This posting was sweet Guy ... damn ... I feel very similar about shopping and think alot of other folk's must too, including many women at that. What really got me a few year's back too, was these check yourself out scan's ... which they were telling us they done for our convenience, which also have line's too waiting, where many time's I would purposely decline to use them, unless I was in an absolute hurry, because as I told clerk's ... "it take's away ya'll's job's" ... I mean ... I shop as a customer and to get service, not to be a clerk and sack my own shit, etc too! My convenience? ... my ass! ... just another bloody way to cut employee's and make more profit's and give less!

Thanx Bum!

lime said...

oh i'm with you. i hate grocery shopping. it makes me nuts but it's been my job for 22 years.

i've always tried to avoid the crowds too because the aisle blockers bring out the homicidal maniac in me. my biggest tip...avoid senior citizen day because then you get two old ladies blocking the entire damn aisle on their respective scooters because they met up ad had to catch up on the latest gossip right in the middle of frozen foods.

Randal Graves said...

Okay, now this was just goddamn funny & painful. Rock bands have Spinal Tap for such dichotomies, I guess this means us shlubs have trips to the grocery store.

Cloudia said...

good practice for saintly patience :)

Aloha from Waikiki :)

Comfort Spiral




Commander Zaius said...

Pixel: "Wait a minute ... was that you in the Walmart about five years ago who asked about the cantaloupe???"

Probably not, I would have been the guy checking out all the female magazines, they are often better than Playboy.

Ranch: I agree, those self-check outs are a joke. Plus, I'm always scared some local is going to accuse me of stealing something.

Lime: As I implied I share the grocery shopping and it is one of the reasons I need to move someplace without a lot of people.

Randal: I just can't wait for the zombie apocalypse or whatever doomsday that eventually hits us, it will be fun watching the suburban proles run to the grocery store and not finding anything.

Time to arm and buy plenty of beer home-brewery kits so we can ride out the horror with a comfortable buzz.

Cloudia: Or a good reason to go postal.

okjimm said...

SEE!!!! .... that is why a beer only diet is the best... one aisle shopping!!!

Full-On-Forward said...

OMG--were you with me tonight when I went to Wally World to shop because the wife is ill!

You sir are a genius in writing what I experienced. And since there are only two of us--and I came home with 325.00 worth of groceries--FROM FRUSTRATION NO LESS- I doubt I will ever have to go again in the near future!

Again--You writing is genius!


Infidel753 said...

That's the problem with grocery shopping these days. There are fifty different kinds of everything, and no normal person can figure out what distinguishes one from another or why it matters, and there's always somebody out there who absolutely must have the exact right kind.

Sounds like afterwards you need to slip over to a store in that Russian-dominated parallel world and grab some vodka.

Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

My biggest pet peeve is thinking that people are talking to me when they're actually only talking into their hand-free cell phones. I seem to run into one of these individuals on every grocery trip....And they always look like the type of person that nobody would really want to talk to.

Joe "Truth 101" Kelly said...

God my wife and I must be the most boring couple on Earth. Grocery shopping is a big part of our Friday evenings. Then we eat supper at the Hyvee half the time. Their Chinese buffet and meat loaf are great.

The best thing about grocery shopping with the better half is it ensures and ample supply of beer, chips, pickles and any other stuff that's bad for me is in the cupboard.

Marja said...

lol not my favourite either. thanks for a laugh Just what I needed. I've got something for you to pick up dear friend.

Marja said...

lol not my favourite either. thanks for a laugh Just what I needed. I've got something for you to pick up dear friend.

Jo ~ said...

yeah, what did melon guy have in his basket...hmmmm?

Grocery shopping here in Appalachia is quite the adventure, its like Mr. C said, you gotta hold your ground with the buggy...oh! I forgot some educated fools call it a bascart? what the hell is that? its a damn buggy without bumpers! Watch out Hillbilly driving! LOL