When you have young kids, do you know what a solo trip to the grocery store is like? It’s like Aruba, but without all the white women disappearing. That’s probably a poor analogy. Let’s go with Disney World for adults. Going to the grocery store alone is like Disney World for adults.
There’s no rush. You can take your time. You can browse the different olive oil selections and contemplate the metaphysical difference between virgin and extra virgin.
If you like, you can exchange witty and jovial banter with the food samplers. The options are ridiculously limitless. With young kids though? The grocery store is like walking a tight rope with a dirty bomb strapped to your back. There’s a rhythm and if you or your spouse dilly-dally in the cereal section over Honey Bunches of Oats and Honey Bunches of Oats and Nuts, then things can unravel quickly.
And before you build a mental image of what I’m talking about, in terms of a grocery store, I’m not talking about Wal-Mart. That place is the wild west of personal conduct and hygiene. You could write a dystopian novel set in Wal-Mart and never leave the home and gardening section.
I’m in Southeastern Tennessee, people. Our Wal-Marts aren’t exactly a conglomeration of the best and brightest. I know you save money there. TRUST ME, I know. But I just can’t. Maybe that makes me a snob or stupid. That’s fine. Plant those flags in my yard. At least I won’t smell like pet food and hillbilly armpits.
Anyways, the grocery store. Alone it can be so wonderful. Sterile lighting, 68 degrees, unimposing contemporary artists like Gavin DeGraw or John Mayer soundscaping your atmosphere. So nice. But it never is. It never, ever is. Why? Because of humanity that’s why.
Out of 100% of our population, 80% of us are not socially incompetent. But the majority doesn’t matter. It’s the 20% that keeps us from having nice things like hoverboards, municipal lazy rivers, invisibility cloaks and year round McRib sandwiches.That 20% has no idea how to conduct themselves. They spill coffee on themselves and sue the coffee maker. They eat Cheeseburgers dipped in ranch everyday for lunch and sue the restaurant because they grew a fourth chin. They pee in the public pools and sue the city because of urine content in the public pools.
It’s because of these people that we can’t have anything nice. Not-coincidentally, these are the people that also ruin your solo trip to the grocery store.
+ The Oblivious Obstructor
Nothing makes me want to punch a hole in the sky like these people. They stand in the middle of the aisle staring blankly at the different kind of Cheezits and dam up the flow of traffic while they fixate on the ever-so-important dilemma of white cheddar, vs. hot and spicy.
The area of their hindquarters + the area of their overtuffed grocery cart usually exceeds the width of an interstate on-ramp, and OF COURSE they NEVER perceive this. Instead, they just continue eclipsing the aisle like it’s no big deal.
And if you are wondering if I’ve ever accidentally “bumped” their cart to bring attention to their obstruction, then your answer is yes. A million hundred billion times yes.
+ The You Must Interact With Me Shopper/Staffer
Me wearing my headphones at the grocery store is a similar idea to a peacock preening; we both want something. The peacock wants a mate and I want everyone to leave me the junk alone. But still there’s ALWAYS the person who wants to talk despite my headphone/tailfeathers.
Hey guy, why do you think I have my head phones in? It’s so I don’t have to do small talk with you. But yet here we are – you warbling to me about the weather or something and me pulling out my head phones so I can hear you repeat, “Boy this heat, right?”
+ The Obstructing Conversants (A distant relative of the oblivious Obstructor)
Oh SNAP! You live in the same small town and you’ve randomly bumped into each other? Que fantastica! That’s so random and raven but that’s also what happens when your town has a population of 55 people. But, hey, whatever works.
Talk until that 2% milk you have in your cart curdles – I truly do not care. But please please PLEASE, GET OUT OF THE WAY. Your conversation does not supercede humanity’s need to navigate the rest of the store. If need be, I will careen into you like a bowling ball careens into a fresh rack of pins. Nobody gets in between me and my Donut House coffee K-Cups. NO ONE.
+ The Coupon Maid
Good for you for couponing. I don’t begrudge you being a good steward of your money. I actually applaud you. BUT GET IT TOGETHER. You browsing through reams and reams of coupon books like you are putting an 8 trillion piece puzzle together is not acceptable.
+ The BlueTooth Shopper
Look. The only people who can get away with wearing a bluetooth headset into a grocery store and using it are the people on Shark Tank – for obvious reasons. So unless you are on Shark Tank, I’m not going to allow it.
For the LOVE, it’s a grocery store trip. It’s not seven years in Tibet and it’s not a bridge to Teribithia. You’ll be out in 45 minutes, tops. Nothing you are dealing with is so important that you need a bluetooth in a grocery store and if it is? You probably should be dealing with it and not browsing the thick slice hickory bacon selection. Just my opinion.
+ The Loud Deli Guy
We get it! You work with meat all day and absorb testosterone through osmosis. It’s all sciency and junk. But PLEASE don’t yell at me from 200 yards away about trying the low sodium roast beef.How about you do you and slice the meat and I’ll do me and listen to This American Life to find out what the hipsters are into? Ok? Ok.
+ The Eat and Shop Guy
I get it. You are in a sanctuary of food so you want to bust into those powdered donuts. I CAN’T DISPUTE YOUR REASONING. But know this: it’s kind of a social faux pas. Do I wish that I could eat while I shop? YES. I would eat barbecue ribs sans wetwipes while I shopped if I could. But society has conditioned that possibility into oblivion. Thanks again for that, society.
A few years ago, I was at Wal-Mart with my friend Mark and this was one of those Wal-Marts with a McDonalds inside it. Before we started shopping, Mark was really hungry so he ordered some food and ate while we shopped. And even among the hillbillies and hogmollies of southeastern TN, he was getting some strange looks. And these are the people that populate peopleofwalmart.com. Why? Because unless you are 3 or younger, eating while shopping is like cannibalism; across class and culture, it is frowned upon.
What types of people at the grocery store did I forget?