Shopping Cart Chronicles

by Libby Sternberg

Because I’m a freelancer, I work from home. This has led to some lazy grocery shopping habits since I can pretty much pop on up to the store any time during the day instead of doing one big shopping trip once a week.

This repeated exposure to the grocery store has made me feel like something of an expert in grocery store etiquette. No, let me amend that. I’m no Emily Post. I’m more like a General Patton, rolling quickly to destinations and judging sharply those who muck up the whole process.

My pet peeves, in no particular order are:

Cashiers who forget to hand you all your bags: You get home. You put things away. You seem to remember buying more meat than this, and you’re sure you put rutabagas in the cart along with lemons. As you review your receipt, you discover you had, in fact, paid for all those items. But the helpful cashier and/or bagger left that bag out of the cart. This has happened to me enough times that I now give the cashier’s station a good once-over before leaving, even asking if they gave me everything. Next time it happens, the store’s going to have to deliver the missing groceries to my door.

Aisle hoggers: Yeah, I know everybody does this on occasion. You leave the cart kind of in the middle because you’re just going to grab that “one thing,” and then something else catches your eye…  But you still move quickly if someone else comes along, right? I do. Not so with AHs. They blithely ignore the rattle and creak of carts coming their way until you simper “Excuse me,” forcing them to move. Okay, some folks might be hard of hearing and not catch the low cart rumble approaching. But that woman with the New Age baby sling and her cart diagonally across the rice aisle? She was just being self-centered and thoughtless.

The Impatient Check-Outs: Your bags have been loaded. You’ve slid your card through the scanner and are just waiting for the “approved” message to appear…and the shopper behind you nudges his cart up practically into your booty. I’ve actually said to one of these ICOs (smiling sweetly all the while): “I’ll be finished soon” (leaving off the “you antsy ratbastard” at the end).

The Chatty Cathy Shopper and Cashier: They know each other. They decide to catch up on all their news…while blithely ignoring the other shoppers waiting in line behind them. ‘Nuff said.

The Desultory Clerk: I ran into this one recently. He actually had a tag pinned to his shirt pocket that said “Cashier Coach.” He must have thought his coaching duties were way, way more important than actually working the register. Or maybe he was irritated because when he deigned to open up a new lane, he’d started to motion over another waiting shopper before noticing I was zooming his way (I was there longer. Trust me; he just hadn’t seen me.) He rang up my items with the air of someone slumming it for a season. When he announced my total, I thought, danged, but that’s cheap. Then I noticed he’d left numerous items on the belt even though they were clearly in front of the divider and belonged to me. After realizing this mistake, his mood changed. He became, oh, humbler, more cheerful, even wishing me a nice day. I offered him stony silence and left (after offering a happy smile and thanks to the bagger, who was quite pleasant).

But the Number One Grocery Shopping Pet Peeve is:

Carts that stick together when you grab one from the bunch at the entrance to the store.

We can put a man on the moon, but we can’t design shopping carts that don’t stick together? Really, people? Really?


Wanna help me pay for my groceries?Buy my books! Check them out at my website. Or go directly to Amazon to grab my latest, Aefle and Gisela.

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