I’ve been grocery shopping solo for the family for a while now. I go Monday morning after I feed Ellie her breakfast. It took me awhile to get my groove down, but I finally got it all situated. Unless it’s before a predicted snowpocalypse, it’s pretty uneventful. I have my own method to get me through the event, and I’d like to come clean on a few things.
I hate the thought of other shoppers thinking I’m the stereotypical clueless guy that was sent to the store by his wife. That I’m wandering around the store without a clue of what to buy, or how to select produce. So when I am picking out fresh fruit or vegetables I pretend to know what I’m doing. I pick things up, squeeze them, look underneath them and then put them back. I repeat this two or three times before I make my final selection. What am I looking for? I have no idea. I’m just putting on a show. But I think everybody else is, too. As long as my thumb doesn’t go through anything, it seems alright to me.
I frequently find myself looking into people’s buggies to see what they are buying. I’m curious to see who buys organic and who buys all the packaged stuff. Who else buys beets and who likes spinach or brussel sprouts. One time I saw a guy who was either a construction worker, or a washed up rock star. His basket was filled with Coca Cola, lunch meat, beef, and bread. Nothing strange there. But the guy next to him who looked like your stereotypical biker, with a leather Harley jacket, a beard, and a bandana on his head. He had fresh lettuce, bananas, multigrain bread, and bottled water. It’s never ‘too cool’ to eat healthy. And then there was an older woman, probably in her late seventies. Her buggy had about fifteen two liters of Pepsi and twenty boxes of Colgate toothpaste. That’s all! I wonder what people think when they see my dad grocery shopping for my ninety year old grandma. The buggy usually consist of toilet paper and donuts.
I hate shopping at Kroger. This really disappoints me because in college I was a devout Kroger shopper. I even worked at Kroger for a little while. But I hate Kroger now. The produce, the layout, the lighting, the five dollar dvds by the checkout, I’m annoyed by it all. I’m a Meijer guy all the way now.
I hate the dairy aisle. There is always a traffic jam in the dairy aisle. I find that most people are very particular on the gallon of milk they buy, or the dozen of eggs they buy. They stand there blocking the cooler doors examining the cartons looking for the most recent date. They start at the front and then pull the cartons from the back. When they still haven’t found the freshest milk possible they peer through behind the cartons of milk to the back area as if to see a worker milking a cow. Or when people are choosing eggs, they examine each egg like they’re buying diamonds. They are eggs. See if they are cracked and move on.
I hate it when I see people grocery shopping in their pajamas. I’m always surprised at how many grown men and women I see shopping with their pajama pants on. At least I hope those are pajama pants. If a guy is out in public wearing flimsy cotton pants with mini Homer Simpsons printed all over them and thinks they’re real pants, that’s a problem. Is it such a big deal to put real pants on? Jeans? Khakis? Even sweat pants?! They don’t even need to be clean! I once saw a family out to dinner. They looked like a nice normal family, but when the dad got up from the table, I saw that he had on fluorescent orange Detroit Tiger pajama pants. In his defense, it was an all-you-can-eat pizza place. But still, pajama pants!? At a restaurant? You’re not in high school. This is not “pajama day” for school spirit week. Put some pants on!
I choose the checkout lane based on how the cashier looks. Most people choose their checkout lane based on how long it is. I do that too, but when they are all about the same, I make my choice based on how the cashier looks. Maybe someone looks especially grumpy, or has crazy hair that bothers me. Maybe someone looks particularly smiley, or in a good mood. That’s how I decide. Most often my choices aren’t very good, so it’s like choosing the lesser of two evils. It’s not a foolproof system, but I stand by it.
I secretly want to have a conversation with the cashier like everybody else. I see the people in front on me in line banter back and forth with the cashier with ease. Some tell about their busy day ahead or something like that. They both have a good laugh and then they pay and leave. I want that. It never works whenever I try though. I never really gets passed, “Do you have any coupons or bottle slips?” I smile and reply, no. I have no idea what to ask a cashier. I think I depend on them too much to get it started. “Maybe next week,” I think.
The people I usually end up talking to are the people I don’t want to talk with. I don’t know why, but I attract crazy old ladies. This one line I was in was moving really slow. The first customer happened to be an older man with a long ponytail. The lady behind me was getting bored and frustrated and started talking to me. It wasn’t a conversation really. I just smiled politely, but she kept talking to me.
“I always pick the slow line,” she said. “I could go get a haircut before I get to the front. He should. (as she points to the front of the line to the ponytail guy) Look at that hair. And he’s older, too!” In between whining and complaining she keeps waving at Ellie and saying “hello.”
I kept thinking, I should have chosen the line with the grumpy cashier.