Shopping Cart RageShopping cart rage.
Anyone who spends any amount of time in the supermarket is familiar with this type of stress. It develops right after the road rage and the parking lot rage, and just before the check out line rage.
Well, perhaps rage is too strong a word. It isn’t full-blown rage after all, as much as it is a latent frustration with the way things are in the average suburban supermarket sometimes, especially when you are in a hurry or in a bad mood.
Today I had about 20 things on the list. I always have a list and I rarely fluctuate from it. I don’t mess around. I go in, I get what I need and I get out of there as fast as is humanly possible. I am polite and considerate but I don’t want to hear the specials necessarily and I do not want to make small talk and I do not want to get behind a family who has decided that those who shop together stay together, unless they are all going to stay the hell out of my way.
I do not have a bad attitude. In fact, I always have a smile on my face. People know me there and I do not go in looking for trouble. That being said, today I was in no mood, and the first thing that happened was I turned a corner and came face to face with my miserable, non-smiling, ex-neighbor who hates me. Oh hi, I say, and I smile because it is not my fault that her husband hit on me at the barbecue ten years ago. So there. Get over yourself. Scowl at me? Seriously? After all this time? He is a dentist! And he is shorter than I am! Please! But you know how sometimes if you are going up and down the rows you will repeatedly run into the same people who are following the same route you happen to be on? Well, that’s what we did until I veered off out of necessity, as my rage was beginning to surface.
Every row seemed to be blocked, deliveries, label readers, coupon shufflers, serious, oblivious-to-every-other-human-being-on-the -planet aisle blockers. I purposely use one of those tiny, single person shopping carts for two reasons, easy maneuverability, and more importantly, because it guarantees that I will only ever leave with just as much as I can transport from my car to my house with one of those old lady collapsible folding carts, as I hate to make more than one trip from the parking lot up my driveway and into my house. Call me crazy, but I only allow for one trip and I will cripple myself with the effort; it has become a challenge, a game now for me to get in, get it all in, in one trip. I make my way up and down the rows the best I can.
Then, once I make up my mind that I am done, I want to be done. So then the trick becomes how to figure out which line to get into. I have this down to a science. With one sweep across the front of the store I can calculate the rate at which the cashier is moving and the dexterity of her shopping bag stuffer assistant. I know these people by now, I know the talkers, the speed scanners and the baggers who are so infuriatingly precise so as to make me want to kill myself. I head for the speed scanner who is working solo today. Excellent.
Price Plus, no coupons, a couple of giant cloth bags, swipe and …GO.
Before he even starts to say would you like paper or plastic I have half the stuff bagged and in my cart. He smiles. They have GOT to appreciate the non-talking, debit card swiping, self-bagger at least some of the time. It would be awful if everyone was like me but I am in a bad mood and I really just want to get home, and I think they can sense that sometimes, so I dispense with the pleasantries and I am on my way.
Did you know that when you are hired by a supermarket you must undergo six hours of bag training? It’s true. Videos, demonstrations, written handouts, hands-on practice—all to learn the art of bagging groceries so as to protect people’s purchases, and to save time and ultimately to save money. It is time well spent.
I get home. I fling open the trunk, and the bags come spilling out, a result of some fast-corner road rage I’m thinking, uneven packing also a probable culprit, heavy and light mashed together. I pull out my cart and, cursing under my breath, I attempt to put the groceries in it while reaching for the two bags still in the trunk. I lift, and the one with the milk and the cereal boxes (with razor-like edges) explodes as the boxes slice through the bag. Ah, more on the ground. But I see it in slow motion, the bottle, the hypo-allergenic, economy-sized, plastic bottle of dish detergent flies, it doesn’t fall, it flies out of the bag and crashes with an unscented, super concentrated, money saving thud, onto my foot.
I look at my neighbors who are out in the parking lot getting their mail. They have witnessed the aforementioned scene. I look up and smile and I say. “I bagged it myself. What a time-saver!” Then I turn and drag my cart, groceries sticking out all over the place, my shoes all sticky and creating bubbles as I slosh up the rain-slicked driveway and I think…
I forgot the tea.