Thursday, February 22, 2007

Guest Blogger...Judy Fedele

The Wrong Line at the Wrong Time

Let’s talk shopping. You know when you’re at the grocery store, finished with the hunting and gathering and in a hurry to leave? You scan the checkout lines, trying pick which looks the fastest. This may seem like a no-brainer decision, but in reality it takes a very scientific approach to correctly choose the lane which will most likely get you and your groceries home the quickest. There are important factors to calculate:

1) How alert is the cashier (upright or slumping?)

2) Number of customers already in line

3) Quantity of groceries in the carts ahead

4) Whether those customers look like they will either:

a) argue with the cashier over expired coupons and non-existent sale prices,

b) or worse, try to chat with the cashier

5) Whether those customers have their kids with them, which means they will be distracted and slower to unload their groceries and sort out their coupons and beverage-return slips, all while trying to keep the younger child safely in the grocery cart seat and focused on the free cookie snagged from the bakery to keep her out of meltdown mode during the tedious check-out process, while the older child is busy sneaking forbidden items onto the conveyer belt which go unnoticed because the harried parent is otherwise occupied. (This being a hypothetical situation and not one I’m familiar with myself…)

Unfortunately, even the most astute assessment can backfire, because at the exact moment you commit your cart and move into a checkout lane, that lane will reverse polarity from warp speed and grind down to a crawl. As every line but yours moves forward in a forwardly direction, there’s nothing you can do but grit your teeth and sweat into your coat. You know that feeling? I feel like that all the time.

And then, of course, we have the shopping horror-stories. These are typically not as gruesome as pregnancy/childbirth stories from veteran moms to expecting mothers-to-be, but it’s a shared experience we can all relate to. My favorite three shopping stories are all grocery store mishaps. The first is from a few years ago, as I was checking out, and the woman behind me in line had a child who was touching and handling my groceries as I was putting them onto the conveyer belt. This child was definitely old enough to know better than to touch someone else’s stuff and I politely asked the woman to have her stop. This mom – obviously a strong disciplinarian - responded with, “She ain’t got no germs!” Charming. Ain’t got no manners, either.

My second story (which happened quite recently) continues on the conveyor belt, where again I was unloading my groceries and the woman behind me began unloading hers before I was even halfway finished. The plastic stick divider did nothing to keep her stuff from squashing my poor groceries as the cashier and I struggled to keep up. This is one of those times where we wonder if it will do more harm than good to say something. Hey, lady, turn on your “clueless” light and warn us all that you’re coming.

My last trip is a visit down Amnesia Lane, and one incident I would rather forget. I was newly married and doing some grocery shopping on a very limited budget. I had maybe $30 dollars in my pocket at the time, cash only, without a credit card or bank/ATM card as a backup. I don’t know what I was thinking but I had loaded up my cart without keeping any kind of mental tally. I checked out and it added up to something like a hundred dollars. Reality hit, and hit hard. Had to explain I only had $30 and started the tedious (and embarrassing) business of voiding pretty much my entire order. That’s one store I never visited again.

Sometimes shopping is great, where I get to slay dragons and battle giants and come home with fabulous deals on meals for the family table. It’s a hard fight, but one I enjoy winning. Other times, not so much. Shopping can be at best an outright drag, or at worst… well, you fill in the blank. Which reminds me, the fridge is empty and I’m pretty sure I saw tiny tumbleweeds blowing around in the pantry. I’ve got to suit up for battle and get out there to do some serious shopping. I’ll likely have my kids and my coupons with me, so if you see me in the checkout line at the store, I give you carte blanche (freedom of the cart) to pick any line other than the one I’m in. It will guarantee you’ll get home in record time.

Judy Fedele
http://www.orgsites.com/ny/believerschapelmops/

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