When I die, I want to be reincarnated and come back as the BF. Since we started dating, he has managed to foist several unpleasant activities onto my plate, and I, for some reason, have willingly taken them. I will admit that some of them have been for selfish reasons — like if I let him put things away in my kitchen, Lord only knows where half of them will end up. Or, if I send him to the grocery store, I’m pretty sure that half of my coveted items will be omitted.
The grocery store has become the bane of my existence. Inner city grocery stores are typically a combination of comical, pathetic, and treacherous.
When I lived on the Gold Coast, the famed “Jungle Jewel” on Clark and Division was my shopping option. It was a socioeconomic nightmare and a haven for street crazies. Every time I braved that store, I felt like wearing camouflage and combat boots. I couldn’t even tune out and put on headphones while I shopped, because it was important to be on guard. Someone tried to run a “lost wallet” scam on me there once (I didn’t fall for it), and a dirty guy exposed himself to me (I suggested he take “that thing” to the produce section).
Now that I’m in a different ‘hood, I shop in the South Loop Jewel for pedestrian items and visit Whole Foods for specialty fun stuff. This Jewel isn’t nearly as bad as the Jungle, but still has its trappings.
For example, I always seem to end up with the “mind of its own” basket. I know to avoid the lone basket because I’m certain that it’s left for a reason (similar to that one seat on the crowded bus that nobody wants for fear that the smelly man in the adjacent seat is afflicted with chiggers), so the frequency with which I happen to choose a ghost basket that meanders to the side or stops defiantly without warning or provocation, makes me think that at least 50% of the basket population is defective. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I would accuse Jewel executives of taping shoppers and watching the footage of us struggling with the metal torturers on wheels for their comedic pleasure.
The entertaining aspect of Jewel is the greasy-haired special Chinese stock guy who is clearly OCD, wears coke bottle glasses, steamrolls customers, and emphatically repeats what must be the only English phrase he knows: ”I’m so berry sorry.” (If you shop there and see this man, take my advice and do not — DO NOT — ask the location of any items. He will either fly through the store at breakneck speed to show you, or he will say something that you’ll never understand. Either way you’ll get a headache. Trust me.)
The other odd thing about this Jewel is that if you leave your basket unattended for one minute, the workers will abscond with it and start reshelving your items. Somehow, the very basket that you’ve been struggling with can be whisked away in an instant by an overzealous Jewel employee.
But, the piece de resistance for me is always the self-checkout line. I love the self-checkout line. I use it when I’m in a hurry, don’t really want to have conversation with the cashier, or when I’m buying an embarrassing item. Which pretty much means that I use them exclusively unless I have a full basket. (Oddly, the BF hates the self-checkout line because he says that they’re taking the place of real people and reducing jobs. My point being that if he were that damned concerned about inflating the economy, he should visit the store a little more frequently and reinvigorate it himself. )
But here’s what I hate — when people who don’t know what they hell they’re doing use the self-checkout line and slow down those of us who are experienced, well-oiled machines.
There are rules.
1. Count your items. If you have upward of 20 items in your basket, please use the regular aisle.
2. Prepare. This means have your loyalty card ready to scan BEFORE arriving at the machine. Beulah, who is lethargically manning the self-checkout station, is not going to expediently dash over to scan her card for you. She will, in fact, arrive with disdain simply because you made her move. People behind you will want to throttle you. Just have it ready. Also, if you are an extreme couponer, have them ready to run through, and don’t summon Beulah when your $0.50 coupon only impacted your bill by $0.40. She really won’t care. And neither will the people behind you.
3. Avoid buying alcohol while in this line. While I realize that your 40 ounce can of malt liquor will make or break your evening, having to call an attendant to check your ID or retrieve it from the cage actually undermines the premise of a FAST lane.
4. Understand the concept of a bar code and know your limitations. If you don’t understand the concept of scanning an item, or if your dexterity prevents you from quickly running said bar code over the scanner, move to the regular aisle.
5. If you have something from the produce section that needs to be weighed, there are two things to know: a) what it is, and b) how to spell it. You’d be surprised at how many times Beulah gets called to discern between oranges and clementines.
5. Have a bagging strategy. I’ll admit that I’m a bit anal about this. I put like items together in my basket, so that the bagging process can move smoothly. For example, all of the frozen and refrigerated items are together so that they’re quickly put into one bag. There was a woman today who spent about 10 minutes post-purchase making sure that the Lysol wasn’t near the apples and that neither of things were near the tampons. I get it, but damn! Organize!
6. Move out of the way. Don’t stand there post-purchase pondering your receipt while others are salivating to occupy your machine. Also, don’t leave your basket lingering around. Oh, and if you have a stroller and a basket, don’t scowl at others who are scowling at you because they can’t get through.
If anyone else has grocery store woes, I would love to hear them.
Thanks for reading!