Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Buyers Beware

In the past few days I've spent more time at stores, grocery and other, than I usually do in an entire month.  I've been searching out some items for a class I'm teaching and have been enjoying the hunt.  Yesterday I felt absolutely dismayed at the state of our human existence after one excursion and I found myself compelled to bestow my opinions on everyone (you, the reader).  Part of me would like to print out this note and stand outside of stores handing it out.

Dear Sirs and/or Madams,

Thank you for choosing to shop at ________.   I am about to shop here as well and hope we both have a good experience.  

I'd like to take a moment to introduce you to some basic shopping etiquette in order to make your time, but mostly my own, more pleasant. 

Let's talk first about shopping carts.  How fortunate we are to live in a country where carts are provided for us, at no charge, in order to make purchasing easy.  It would seem that if a store is polite* enough to provide carts for you, that you should return the courtesy by placing the cart back in one of the designated areas.   This is not difficult as there are usually multiple options for cart return.  If you find this is a problem for you, then park your lazy butt next to the cart return stall so that you can both pick up and return a cart with little effort. Oh, I know it's a fun challenge to your creativity to see how many wheels you can pop up onto the curb to see if the cart will stay or go - but couldn't that same time be spent walking the five to ten feet to the return?  And shame on those of you who fail to even attempt creativity and resort to the assumption that because a cart has four wheels it must be a car and somehow deserving of it's own parking space.  With the exception of a physical disability** there is no excuse for leaving your cart anywhere other than the cart return. If you do have a physical disability - or even if you don't -  ask for help when checking out.  They provide it for free - no tipping necessary!  

Once you've procured your shopping cart, and have a game plan for properly disposing of it when you're done, please take a moment to get off our your cell phone before entering the store.  I know those fancy new bluetooth devices allow us to walk around like robots - always connected to someone, somewhere, somehow.   Still, being on your phone distracts you while you are attempting to shop (and please, don't try to tell me this doesn't happen to you) causing one or both of the following:
(1) greater likelihood*** of purchasing unnecessary items because of lack of focus 
(2) stopping mid-aisle to finish a conversation while appearing to be intently staring at the 
products causing cart traffic jams or others to wait for you to notice them so that they can grab the item your cart is, no doubt, stopped in front of.
(3) a slow, unaware pace as you walk around the store****, leaning into your cart with one hand pushing and the other hand, elbow on the cart, supporting your cell.  If you had eyes in the back of your head you'd see people glaring at you as they try to navigate around you.

Now I realize that we are all-important beings and I myself have wandered around the store, cell in hand, bluetooth in ear, doing my best at multi-tasking.  It doesn't work - for any of us. Not to mention the fact that grocery stores (and stores in general) were once places where you bumped into your neighbors, or chatted with the produce person about the latest arrival of white peaches - none of which you can while phoning.  

If you feel as though this is too strict for you, then at least adopt the following rule:  Do not talk on your phone while attempting to check out at the register!  If you surveyed cashiers I am sure that number two complaint (if not number one, which I am almost positive would be people who haggle over sale prices) would be trying to ring someone up who is on a phone call. Directions have to be given and re-given, questions asked and re-asked (Do you want paper or plastic?  Excuse me, paper or plastic?).  Not to mention the total lack of acknowledgement that often occurs when the cashier is not greeted, thanked or even given eye contact.  

Shopping should at the least be a successful experience, but hopefully fun as well.   In doing the above I believe that your experience, my own, and the other shoppers will be greatly improved. 


*I realize that the stores reasons for providing a shopping cart may have more to do with increasing the amount of goods purchased rather than pure politeness.  But still courtesy is involved.   
**And yes, being prego counts as a temporary physical disability in my book.
***such a fun word to type but it always looks wrong...
****much like the way you drive your car when you talk on the phone.  And yes, there were a lot of footnotes.  This will be my last one I promise!

1 comment:

Jen said...

Yes, it's all true. And why do people park themselves in the middle of the aisle, right in front of what I need most anyway?