How to shop at the grocery store

January 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

I went grocery shopping today on my way home from work.  It was crazy out there…I went to three stores, all full of crazy people behaving badly.  Being an engineer and a scientist who is very interested in human behavior, I almost always get irritated when I’m shopping.  It really, really bugs me when I see people mistreating the grocery store personnel, hassling them because they haven’t memorized the names of every vegetable (“that’s an ACORN squash, you idiot, not a zucchini”), or complaining because the lines are too long, or telling the manager that the meat is too expensive (as if the store manager has any control over meat prices).  I think the cash register clerks seem to get subjected to the worst behavior.

What really bugs me the most though, is when I see a customer complaining because the bag boy sacked the groceries “wrong,” because the bread is next to a can of tomatoes, or a box of cookies is…OH MY GOSH…touching the pepperoni.  I bring my own bags, and couldn’t care less that the cookie bag TOUCHES the pepperoni bag.  I’m just happy when I’ve remembered to bring my bags from home.

Yes, the bag boy does his best to sack the groceries according to some sort of grocery-store protocol (which I think goes something like this…”I just need to work as fast as I can, to get my work done, so I can get out of here, and go study for my calculus test”).   But, we can actually help the bag boy (excuse me for being sexist here, but it’s always a bag BOY; it would actually be nice to see a bag girl, but I guess Gloria Steinem hasn’t made much of an impression on my neighborhood’s grocery stores) do his job.

Here’s how we can make it easier for the bag person, and ensure that the bread doesn’t get squashed by a 28-ounce can of tomatoes:  When you unload your groceries from your cart, organize them on the conveyor belt in the following manner:

  1. Place all of the wet dairy stuff together
  2. Put the meat together
  3. Put the fresh fruit and vegetables together
  4. Put all of the cleaning supplies together
  5. …the canned goods together
  6. …the baked goods together
  7. …the paper goods together
  8. …the wine and glass stuff together

Get the idea?  You’ll be surprised at the fewer bags you will have, and how well your purchases will survive the trip back home.  Having just spent $433 today, I’m beginning to think of myself as a bit of an expert in this area.

The store cashier might actually thank you, like the lady did with me today.  And one other thing…thank the cashier.  You might be the only person who bothers to do so (sad isn’t it?).

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