10 Reasons Why

10 Reasons Why I Shouldn’t Go Grocery Shopping without Supervision


1. The parking lot.

The uncontrolled behavior starts before I even get in the store. I’m one of those who doesn’t like to park anywhere near the entrances to a retail establishment, because some drivers are incredibly stupid and inconsiderate and I don’t want them maneuvering a vehicle into the slot next to mine. (I happen to prefer that my own car not have dings, dents, hanging bumpers, and paint scrapes that were not part of the factory finish.) So I park in Brazil, and then I walk.

Trouble is, this lengthy hike (I make sure I have plenty of water and a snack or two) means that I now have to walk past all of the people I was trying to avoid. People backing up without looking, idiots trying to turn into a slot while you’re still strolling past it, random children who have been psychologically destroyed by the non-purchase of a toy, and cretins who think belching and grabbing at their junk at the same time is some type of art form.  By the time I actually get to the store door, I’ve got a negative attitude because I’m already tired and our society is clearly doomed.

2. The shopping cart selection.

Some folks just have an eye for spotting a properly-functioning merchandise conveyance. They waltz up to the shopping-cart petting zoo at the front of the store, not even hesitating as they make their decision, and then manage to choose a cart that will function beautifully for the next two hours, never once making the tiniest squeak or doing that annoying thing where some of the wheels lock up like you just ran over an armadillo and then those wheels don’t roll right ever again.

Me? I can’t even get the carts to separate. My first choice is always the one that has somehow become welded-for-life to the spooning partner behind it. I can jerk and rip and tear but the carts refuse to stop copulating. The same thing happens with the next several random picks. By the time I finally get one of the carts free, I’m sweating and cussing and slightly foaming at the mouth, causing small children to tug on their mommy’s skirt and promise to be good the rest of their lives if they can just be taken away from this place with the scary man.

And, naturally, the cart I finally liberate is one that has had a hard life of drug and alcohol abuse. Only one of the four wheels even tries to work, with the other three digging in their heels or stubbornly trying to head in a direction that does not appeal to me in the least. It’s like trying to push a Buick across the bottom of the ocean. And the noise all of this makes? First-responders often show up and hand out evacuation guidelines.

3. I can’t get from Point A to Point B and then calmly find a check-out station.

Nope. I end up running all wild-eyed from one end of the store to the other 400 times. To be fair, I always have the best intentions of following a plan (non-perishables first, refrigerated next, frozen after that, and alcohol as a reward at the end), but I rarely stick to it. I just somehow lose my focus and my sense of logic, and I often have to make repeat trips to the exact same part of the same aisle. (Because grabbing both peas AND corn during the same pass makes entirely too much sense, right?)

4. The cheese section.

This is one of those spots where I completely lose my mind. I’m not even supposed to be eating this stuff, cholesterol issues and all, but before I even realize what I’m doing I have all manner of shredded, sliced, cubed, bricked and processed cheese piled into my cart. I always get too much. We won’t even be able to eat half of it before it expires, and cheese doesn’t expire for a really long time. It’s not like some of the other emotionally-weak dairy products that can expire before you pull into your driveway. (On the flip side of the dairy-longevity spectrum, although I don’t think it’s really dairy, is that odd soy milk stuff. We drink it and all, I actually like the taste, but have you ever taken a gander at the expiration dates? I have mortgages that will be paid off before a half-gallon of that mess will actually turn. What’s going on there?)

5. I am the one that irritates you in the frozen food section.

Full confession: I hold the doors open too long until everything fogs up and you can’t see anything inside the units, which makes people frustrated and bitter and not apt to speak kindly of you. I can’t help it. See, I eat a lot of those low-fat, low-cal diet things. (More of that high-cholesterol issue, and my weight issue, and the general issue of not wanting to go into cardiac arrest as I reach for another triple burger with a side of lard fries at a drive-thru mega-chain.) I realize the healthiest thing is to simply prepare my own meals using fresh and organic produce, exercise daily, practice yoga, avoid additives and donate to the World Wildlife Federation, but let’s get real. Who has time for that?

So I eat frozen things that have been sucked dry of all possible fat and any possible chance of being celebrated for the exquisiteness of the cuisine. But since I have to make the best of it, I try to pick out entrees with the most promise for actual flavor. Which means I stand there with the door open, pondering, inadvertently creating the ghostly, irritating frost layer that drives other people crazy as I try to decide between the Garlic Chicken Surprise and the Fiesta Fish Frenzy. Mea culpa.

6. The chip aisle.

I love potato chips. Worship them. But they don’t love me. I can just glance at a bag and I gain two inches around my waist as punishment for the glancing. So again, I try to be good by forcing myself to select something that has been “baked” instead of “fried”. (Translation: “tastes like cardboard” instead of “holy cow, I just had a salt-laced orgasm”.)

But it appears that the “baked chip” people are very busy, always coming up with new flavors that sound very promising. So I buy everything that comes along, desperate and hoping. But it rarely works out, and after I try one chip the bag is shoved into the back of the pantry for all eternity. Just the other day I found a parcel of “Uncle Granny’s Zesty Sea-Salt Tidbits of Nothing” in a dark corner of that pantry. It had an expiration date in 1987.

7. The weird aisle that combines cleaning products and scented candles.

I suppose there’s a reason why all of these things are lumped together, but apparently my attempts at higher education have not given me the proper deductive skills. Perhaps it has something to do with the Retail Gods realizing that certain Americans are completely uninterested in proper house-cleaning, so they might as well offer you Plan B, which consists of an array of overpowering candles that can mask your domestic ineptitude.

And thusly, the came up with those “air-freshener” candles that are supposed to detoxify your house, eliminate stanky odors, and convince you that your home has become magically located in a Tahitian paradise.  (And possibly increase your libido, based on the often-startling images of scantily-clad women succumbing to self-pleasure in a bathtub whilst accompanied by artfully arranged flower petals).

These candle-makers are just as busy as the chip people. There are at least three new scents every time you walk down that aisle. So I have to experience each and every one of them. (The fingernail on the index finger of my right hand actually has a callous from all the scratching and sniffing.) So of course I’m always buying more, despite the fact that we already have enough unburned candles in this house to light a medium-sized Catholic church for the next two hundred years.

8. The fancy deli section.

Why pay less for a pre-packaged container of sandwich meat when you can pay even more for someone to physically slice the same exact meat on one of those blade-twirling machines and then lovingly place it in a special bag for you? Both versions of said meat have been sitting in the stockroom for the same amount of time. But I will happily pay ten bucks for three slices of designer pastrami that have been cut to my exact specifications, even when the rude little 12-year-old managing the hacksaw doesn’t listen to me and screws up the dimensions.

9. The ice cream section.

I have sinned. And I have sinned repeatedly. My craving for ice cream is why nuns were invented to beat people with rulers. Seriously.

10. My inability to be a patient human being in the check-out lanes.

You want to cut me off with your cart even though I saw the shorter line at Lane 12 before you did? Don’t think so. You want me to tolerate your screaming child who apparently cannot continue living unless you buy him a candy bar that will sugar-rush him to even greater heights of insubordination? Not gonna happen. You want to argue about getting to use a coupon that is not only expired but has nothing to do with anything that you are trying to purchase? I will pull out a machete and—

Oh, who am I kidding. I will just stand there and put up with it all and curse you under my breath. Because if I do something stupid and get my ass arrested due to your misunderstanding of acceptable human behavior, it’s just going to be that much longer before I can get back to my house where I can eat the taboo cheese, not eat the low-fat crap that I don’t want, suck down the ice cream using a shovel, and enjoy the aroma of yet another new candle, this one bearing the enticing name of “Shanghai Breeze and Pastrami on Rye”…



(Originally published in “The Sound and the Fury” on 08/05/12 and “Bonnywood Manor” on 10/28/13, minimally revised for this post, mainly in the correction of a horrid “paragraph” that was actually one long sentence that was so grammatically offensive that my eight-grade English teacher just knocked on the front door twenty minutes ago.

Special shout-out to vagabondtraders for bravely digging into some of the ancient posts on this blog and graciously making a comment on this tired, dusty thing. I had completely forgotten about it.)


50 replies »

  1. In the movie Begin Again, Keira Knightly composes and sings Lost Stars for Adam Levine and then asks him what he thinks about it. He says, “what do I think? I think I am angry.. I think I hate you a little bit cuz you’re so good!”
    I have a similar emotional response when I read some of the stuff you come up with, and this one tops the list as of now. You may shortly start receiving death threats 😀😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I, too, somehow find the noisiest and most recalcitrant cart in the place. It is so bad that I have resorted to only shopping in smaller bits so I can use the hand basket. I am praying for a grocery delivery to open in my area!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Brian, I relate to all of this. I too park the furthest from the building as I do not trust that anyone can park next to me without putting a dent in my truck. One other thing that bothers me at the check out lane, and I am sorry to admit this to everyone – the older population taking 5 minutes to write a check. Really, people still write checks? Great post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Or the people who are apparently using a credit card for the first time in their entire lives, and they are completely mystified by the whole procedure, banging on all the wrong buttons for hours until a circuit breaker blows…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey, I’m a Brazil parker too! Although my reason is that I always forget where I parked my car, so the solution was to park it in the same place every time. This spot is so far off the map, it doesn’t even get touched during the holiday rush.
    Also, it gives me great pleasure when I find myself entering the store ahead of the woman who sat in her car waiting for a close spot.
    And what’s with the people – usually men in big trucks – who insist on backing into parking spots? I know it makes it easier for them when leaving, but they nearly kill two old ladies and flatten a VW in the process.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, a certain someone that I know also has a clinical obsession with the “backing in” angle. We will jostle back and forth for decades before he is satisfied with the alignment of the vehicles, by which point I have already speed-dialled my therapist three times…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Brian- going to the grocery store with you would be hysterical. You and I would probably treat it like a supermarket sweeps. Speed shopping. I HATE grocery stores. I detested them when I was a child. My ultimate favorite activity is the self checking stations. “Please remove your bag from the scanner.” The problem is that you have already moved said bag and the computer is clearly possessed by HAL 9000 in Kubrick’s 2001 Space Odyssey. Of course, if you have coupons, the computer won’t take them. Yes, this is SO much fun. A delightful way to spend a Saturday.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It would be a hoot to run the gauntlet with you, but we should both ensure that we have adequate bail money set aside before we storm the castle. Any time I try to get all Norma Rae in a situation, things tend to go awry. (And I abhor the self-checkout stations. You can do everything with the utmost precision and accuracy, yet the machine still has issues. Ugh!)

      Liked by 1 person

    I loved the post!!

    (sigh) My dear, dear Brian,
    It seems everything you mentioned has been happening in my life for… eh, ever since I became known as a senior citizen. From the parking lot to the chip isle, I encounter each and every one from the moment I get out of the car and drag my high triglyceride ass across the parking lot.
    As for the scented candle aisle, I save my money, preferring the “Eau de Old Man” smell that permanently lingers throughout the house. The fancy deli meat… I use to work at WalMart, let’s don’t go there! The ice cream section.. the only thing I haven’t done YET is eat it from the carton while I’m shopping.
    The check-out lanes. Any day now I expect to open my mouth and, “God Forgive ME”, what might come out!
    Given the fact I don’t know your exact age, could it be possible you are in the early stages of eldermentia, like myself?


    Liked by 1 person

    • And I loved your detailed responses! I will be turning a high-cholesterol 52 in a few weeks, but I think it’s fair to say that I’ve been showing signs of eldermentia since about the age of 12. (I have always been an over-achiever.) I fear, as you do, that one of these days I will thunder WAY past my tolerance point and end up on the evening news…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh dear. Here we go again. I’m afraid I’m going to have to issue lines and a detention for this little lot of transgressions.
    Paragraph 5. You know that low cal/low fat ‘food’ doesn’t help you lose weight or make you healthier, it is generally full of salt/sugar/artificial sweeteners/colours/preservatives and has practically no nutritional value plus they don’t fill you up so you eat more SO WHY DO YOU BUY THEM???!!!
    Paragraph 7. Those room fresheners are so bad for you, They are full of articificial scents that have been the result of many lab experiments to find the right combination to make you buy and buy again and you will need them on a stronger and stronger setting over time – like drinking black coffee and eventually needing it to look and taste like tar before you can drink it. This way, you have to buy more and more of their products – plus, you no longer know what normal air smells like! Have you tried taking the occasional bath or shower s your rooms don’t require ‘freshening’? 😉
    Paragraph 8. All those packs of meat and cheese you’re buying, have you thought about the environmental impact of all the plastic packaging when you could be buying cheaper, fresher unwrapped foodstuffs?
    Now hold out your hand while I administer 5 whacks of the cane!
    Report: Could do much better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Whoops, I seem to have stumbled again. Well, let’s see if I can save face to at least some degree. I realize the low-fat meals have some not-good things in them, but they are low in fat and cholesterol and those are my personal medical issues. And they do fill me up, because I’m used to the portions. I have one every day for lunch. I have a “regular” meal for dinner. On top of that, I can get one of these meals for less than two dollars. Even if you plan well, it’s very difficult to make your own “healthy” meals for less than two bucks. That’s why I buy them.

      You really feel strongly about air fresheners, don’t you? So I’ll just leave that one alone, other than to say that I have one cup of coffee or tea a day and it’s not tar.

      As for my environmental impact, we recycle everything we can in this house. And I personally take the recycling to the processing center myself, instead of chunking it in the city-issued bin. That way, the city saves a few pennies by not having to stop at my house on collection days because my bin is not out. (This also slightly reduces carbon emissions because the collection truck is not driving to my house and is not idling while they empty my bin.) But I would be very curious to find out where one might find cheaper (key word), fresher, unwrapped meat and cheese in the Dallas metroplex.

      Still and all, holding out my hand. Whack away. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Not what I should have read my first week of retirement when I rejoin the heaving masses at the grocery shop after a ten year absence during which The Writer has gallantly shopped each week. He showed respect for the hard earned dollars I delivered each payday by only buying enough for THIS week. Whenever I wanted to bake there would be a vital ingredient missing- the pantry wasn’t exactly bare but it certainly had a very limited scope. 10 boxes of his favourite cereal and no butter for baking ( because he’s always on a diet)! So now I’m back with the dodgey trolley, a much diminished paycheck and an absolute need to pack that pantry full of anything I could possibly want from cooking chocolate to ardvark milk ( it is so a thing!) Look out shoppers I’m headed your way- better move over!

    Liked by 1 person

    • But at least with retirement, even though you have to keep a firmer eye and hand on the budget, you now have plenty of time to deal with the madness of grocery shopping. Just relax and take things as they come. In my own retirement, I’ve discovered that many of the things that used to drive me crazy don’t really get under my skin as much, mainly because I calm myself by thinking “well, after this incident is finally over, I can go home and lay on the couch and read a book for three hours as a reward”. There is much peace to be found in a relatively un-regimented schedule. But I’m not sure how much peace can be found in the thought of aardvark milk. (Just kidding!)


  9. Interesting take on the grocery shopping ‘experience’ in century whatever it is America. Me? I’m one of the entitled – have a handicapped license plate and park as near the doors as I can. No dinging of car doors – have you seen those stalls? Double wide, plus a nifty little striped “no parking’ area between them. Doesn’t stop some idiots from using that as a quickie parking stall. Nor from some other idiot from losing control of the shopping cart with one functioning wheel. Surprising how fast those things go if not steered by a human hand. Maybe it’s more scary than surprising..

    I am also one of those lame-os in the little driver carts. I do that because standing for any length of time might result in my committing homicide against some person staring into the frozen food freezer deciding on peas or corn or both 😉 hee hee (not YOU sir). Or from killing the stupid coupon-clipping bitch who has a back-back sized purse full of savings and insists on going through ALL of them, despite the growing line behind her and the muttered threats and evil eye curses of crabby old women with bad pins. Sitting down helps me avert the almost irresistible urge to grab her and her purse and fling them both out on the asphalt, screaming “NEVER DARKEN THIS DOOR AGAIN!” Stupid cows…and apologies to any bovines that were hurt by that cruel remark.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I know a little bit about the pleasure of legally parking in the handicapped spot. (Although, apparently, we’re not supposed to use that word anymore. I don’t know why. It doesn’t have a negative connotation for me, but sometimes I’m a little dense when it comes to political correctness.) Anyway, I grew up with a cousin in a wheelchair, and (we may have discussed this one) my youngest sister has been in one since she was in her early twenties. (Massive stroke during a pregnancy; now she only has limited control of her limbs on the right.) So when she’s with us, we also have a little blue sign to hang from the rearview mirror.

    Interestingly enough, she HATES that little blue sign. So we have to keep it out of her sight, wait until she has been successfully maneuvered out of the vehicle, and then quickly pop the hanger on the mirror. Naturally, because some people are asshats, this last-minute hanging of the hanger catches the eye of intrusive people and they feel the need to question my (to them) suspect behavior. I enjoy these encounters with much more relish than I should, letting them know ALL about life….


    • Yes, there is always that superior idiot wandering the parking lot of grocery stores (probably afraid to go home, nobody likes them THERE either) who must come up and mix in any business that isn’t theirs. I had one of them come up and tap my window once and say “you should NOT park here. some poor handicapped person might need it. And you don’t even have a PLACARD…” I eyed her (she probably had the cops on speed dial, so spitting in her self righteous eye was a bad idea) and said Go look at my license PLATES please.” She did, had the grace to STFU at that point and scurried away, face red and head bowed. I’m sure the moment of humiliation only lasted a few seconds and then she was back to minding other people’s business and being smug that she was doing God’s WORK…or something.

      Liked by 1 person

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