Clean up in Aisle Five!

One of the more mundane life jobs that I really don’t mind, is doing laundry. I love the feeling of accomplishment when the piles of clean, folded laundry are before me.

The same cannot be said for grocery shopping. Trying to figure out what we need for the coming week. Trying to figure out what I’m going to feel like cooking four days from now. Trying to spend less than $300 a week, which is only possible while First Born Son is away at work. LOVE YOU SON!

Then there is the experience of acquiring the groceries. There’s the hauling of the empty bins and bags so that I’m environmentally responsible. Next, I have to make my way through a sea of humanity to vie for the same bundle of green onions as the person beside me. I shop at two stores; one that packs my groceries for me – and I only go to trusted cashiers who won’t demolish my bananas, and another where you are forced through like cattle in a chute and need to bag your own groceries with speed and dexterity that is best demonstrated on Survivor.

Grocery shopping brings out the worst in people, myself included.  Thoughtless individuals leave their carts unattended in front of a display of discounted canned soup, while doubling back 20 feet to find the crackers they passed by.  I’ve witnessed kids trying to shoplift, couples have full-blown domestics and countless meltdowns – and they weren’t all from children.

The checkout process is just as painful. Customers who ring through all their purchases and then realize they forgot their wallets at home are the BEST. A close second are those who clip coupons. There’s a special place in hell for them.

One of my part time jobs as teen was working in a grocery store, so perhaps I’ve carried over some latent issues from the 80s. Forgive me.

But by far, my favourite grocery store tale was just a couple of weeks ago. There I was, minding my own business, about half done the weekly torture session that is grocery shopping. As I approached the end of the aisle, I noticed a staff member chatting with a customer who has a small child in a grocery cart. They appeared to know each other, and immediately I constructed a plan to get around them without hitting them.

The customer turned toward me as she sensed me drawing near.

“HOLY FUCK!”  she yells. YELLS.

<PAUSE> For those of you with delicate constitutions, this blog post features the word “fuck”, which is not part of my personal vocabulary because I don’t like saying it, but apparently I have no issuing writing it. Conduct yourself accordingly. <PLAY>

In the nanosecond that she yells this, I engage the Fight or Flight reflex. I must be a heartbeat away from a tragic canned fruit stoning. Perhaps there’s a tsunami of 2% milk bearing down on me?! I actually flinch and glance over my shoulder.

“YOUR HAIR IS FUCKING AWESOME!”

<PAUSE> Knowing that I don’t use this word with any kind of regularity, I do find it interesting to see how it is employed by those who do. On the very rare occasion that I have used this word, it has been during extreme duress with the utmost urgency. Not that that’s an excuse, Mom.<PLAY>

I’m in shock that this woman is offering this kind of language a) in the public place, b) with a child within earshot, c) about something as innocuous as HAIR.

I do what I do best when faced with public embarrassment; pretend like everything is normal.

“Oh, thanks!” I offer, trying to negotiate between her hind end and the industrial shelving that offers every kind of cake mix known to man.

“No, really! I love the colour! And it looks so…” she gestures wildly around her head. “I wish I could wear my hair like that. FUCKING AWESOME!”

I smile and squeeze through the narrow channel, pointing my cart to freedom. The customer turns back to her employee friend and continues to extol the virtue of my truly exceptional coiffure.

For the record, this is what the fuss was all about…

2017-11-14 16.31.27

 

…and I can give you the name of my hairdresser so you can have FUCKING AWESOME hair too.

BTW – I now wear a peaked cap to the grocery store.

The Business of Shopping

A lot of businesses talk about customer service.

Few of them actually deliver, and I believe it’s because it’s a seldom few who know what it the phrase really means. Living in a smaller town, there is a big push to support local merchants and for the most part, I agree. Unfortunately, I can’t shop for my kids in town, unless it’s their groceries. Shoes and clothes have to be purchased roughly 45 minutes to an hour away.

Therefore, when trips to the “Big City” whichever direction that may be, are strategic and include trips to stores we don’t have locally. One such store really gave me an eye opener in a good way. Upon check out, one employee who jumped to help me with the my cart, offered two really great suggestions regarding purchases I made. His colleague was helping with the transaction and asked if I had considered upgrading my membership, which would allow me to earn back 2% of all my purchases. She explained the change simply, quickly and made complete sense to me. Within five minutes, my membership was modified, I had a new card and was heading to the parking lot. Second Born Son was with me, and he was blown away by the experience. THAT’S how obvious it was.

You see, when we buy items locally, there is a certain assumption. It is assumed that we will buy from our local stores, therefore the level of interest to actually be interested in the purchases we are making isn’t significant. If we don’t buy there, no biggie, they know our neighbors will. They’ll be back next week, and the week after. Unfortunately, my shopping experience at some businesses has left me feeling less human and more like cattle in a chute. Truly – like the change drawer is still closing and I’m the one saying “Thank You” to them!?!

I don’t apologize for shopping out-of-town from time to time even though some people would have you feel guilty for doing so. I work very hard for my pay cheque. It is not in my best interest to burn the gas to drive out-of-town to shop. However, I do get tired of clerks who refuse to make eye contact with me, and heavy sighs when I ask if there “is any more in the back.”

It’s been a long time since I actually felt good about spending money. So much for the customer always being “right”.