With a little more pressure from the pharmaceutical industry, I may actually be tempted to get a prescription for anti-anxiety medication for the sole purpose of shopping. I feel hyper-responsible for the placement of my being and cart in a grocery store, yet it feels only a fraction of the hundreds of other shoppers in that big-box retail store carry the same burden of social responsibility.
Park Your Cart Responsibly
U.S. American shopping stores are bedazzling with the array of options offered to us. I get it, you’re confused on whether to get the store brand canned beans for 79 cents or the brand name your family loves for 89 cents. You certainly need to compare the ingredients, but could you keep an eye out for fellow shoppers? Don’t park the cart horizontally in the center of the isle, and if you’re worried about blocking the product selection from other people’s views, just move the cart when your peripheral vision alerts you to a fellow shopper.
Shopping is a communal activity. For some of us, it’s one of the few ventures we can sort of afford, so it’s not surprising we’ll encounter neighbors, friends, teachers, and other acquaintances in the big place we buy the stuff that fuels humanity: food (and beer and toilet paper). Seriously, it’s cool to say, “Howdy,” and it’s even cooler if when your buddy starts up a conversation, you politely start migrating out of the line of grocery cart traffic.
Don’t Text and Push
Shopping buggies are designed to inflict excruciating pain when rammed into the back of one’s ankles. If you’re going to use your cell phone to alert your Facebook friends that you’re currently in the pickle aisle at Bump-and-Go Mart, pull over to a not-so-busy section of the store and thumb your messages away. And, if you’re going to be gazing into your phone (I’m assuming you’re texting a family member about whether or not the store brand beans are worth the ten cent savings), be sure you’re not creating a multi-cart pile up in your wake.
Entrances and Exits are Go-Spots
Proper shopping etiquette requires the mutual understanding that an entrance and an exit of a store is not a static location. Those store-spots are no-loitering zones. When you’re entering or leaving a store, you’re objection is getting in or getting out, and that’s everyone else’s objective too. If you stop to tie your shoe, fix your hair, text someone in your awesome cell phone network, read your shopping list, or talk to anyone without moving while you talk…you’re halting progress. Let the folks behind you go where they are obviously trying to go (which is generally in or out of the store).
Learn the Concept of “Next in Line”
I think it would be swell if all public schools taught children the concept of being next in line. Some lines are singular. Some are multiple. Consider this: Have you ever been standing in a long line at the store, wondering why there are 20 cash registers and only two cashiers, when all of the sudden, your prayers or karmic desires are answered and a cashier opens up a new line? Your knees are about to buckle and you’ve been exhausted from pushing the unwieldy cart that weighs about 300 lbs because you never go shopping, and you try to turn your monster of a cart to the new line when a flock of sprightly folks behind you magically appear in the new line. They weren’t “next in line.” The person in front of you was. That’s who should have been ringing up their bill, but that person had a cart weighing a ton, so now you’re waiting behind that person who is waiting for the cashier to do a price check on the odd looking fruit the customer cannot name.
Use WIC with Respect
I think, by the good grace of all that is good in the universe, WIC recipients are now going to get electronic benefit cards. I still think there will be a cluster-bomb of confusion regarding what’s on WIC and what is not for a whole new generation of cashiers. WIC almost always surely ends in a double whammy of longer-than-necessary shopping line experiences. Be sure you follow the rules and separate your stuff according to what you’re getting. Make it as easy as possible for the cashier. If you’re a newbie to the system, you get a marginally free pass.
Respect Foodstamp and WIC Users
After my last tip on shopping etiquette, I think it’s only appropriate to mention that if you are shopping and find yourself behind a WIC or foodstamp user, you’re free to think whatever you want. That’s why the United States is awesome; however, just know that your eye-rolls and mumbling about finger nails, junk food, and cell phones doesn’t help make the line go any faster.
Who knows why the guy in front of you has four kids wearing name-brand clothes or why he has a touch-screen cell phone. Maybe they got the clothes second-hand from a church friend. Maybe the cell phone is the guy’s only form of communication and it’s less expensive than a home phone. Maybe the guy just went through a divorce and is suddenly broke. Maybe the cell phone is a work phone (because food stamp recipients do work). Or…maybe he’s abusing the system. Who knows. The grocery store line is not the place to start a public campaign to overhaul the American social welfare system. Go home and write your congressperson. Everyone in the line behind you, and even the person who is probably hoping you won’t notice how he’s paying for the stuff will be appreciative of that.
Parking Lot Etiquette
I probably should have begun this rant with a little conversation on the shopping store parking lot. As soon as I pull into the parking lot, I need to do some yoga or meditation or something. It’s generally a mess. Don’t fight over parking spaces. Let it go. If you’ve been waiting for pedestrians to mosey on out of your way, only to find someone zipping into the spot you’ve been drooling over for the past 15 minutes, realize that you’d have been in the store shopping already had you parked in any of the open spots available, no matter how distant they are from the store entrance.
- As a pedestrian, use some decorum. If you have the physical capability to do so, expedite your trip. Watch for cars, and attempt to walk the most efficient path to the store entrance so as not to raise the blood pressure of the people waiting in their cars to get 20 ft further than they are now.
- If you wave someone on to cross the road, be sure cars in the opposite direction won’t injure the cross-walkers.
- Put shopping carts where they belong. If you are shopping with toddlers and the store you’re at did a bad job of putting enough shopping cart depots in the parking lot, you might be the one leaving the carts elsewhere. That’s understandable. Your children’s safety is important; however, at the very least, ensure your cart is not blocking a parking space and that the cart won’t free-roll into someone else’s car.