Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Nothing Super About Supermarkets

Almost all "Super” markets have now installed loads of self-checkout lanes where you can scan, pay and bag without the assistance of an employee. Great ...right?

Not so fast (Literally).

Good luck trying to figure out whether your fresh produce was organic, large, loose, or any other description (so always just select the cheapest and play dumb if questioned on the way out).

Every other item scanned - if you can get the scanner to recognize the bar code - will be followed by a message to "wait for assistance" - an ordeal requiring some after-school-working, nose-picking samsonite monkey to mosey over at their convenience (think "continental drift") … who invariably will need to call the assistant manager for "the key".

Don't kid yourself. This was not some kind-hearted attempt by the stores to give you a more hands-on experience or in ANY way speed your checkout. This is solely a way for them to cut down on employee’s wages and health benefits ... much like ATMS have greatly reduced bank payrolls to give the banks even more money to buy worthless mortgage-backed securities.

What you think was about $80 worth of groceries will end up be closer to $200 since in every aisle you can never figure out which of the 8 price stickers on the shelf applies to the 28 products shelved above (or is it below?) them.

There’s always some smart arse who is in the queue whilst his/her partner continues to shop … dropping items off into their cart every few minutes or so and then dashing off for something else.

The innumerate lummox in front of you thinks you haven’t noticed he has 27 products in the ‘express’ lane. And a OK-Magazine-reading octomom with bored brats has given up and let them cry, whine and generally run amok with their destructive behaviour now being measured in kilotons.

After watching the befuddled rocket scientist in front of you finally manage to scan all his goods, that process will be followed by excruciating minutes of watching him scan all 542 of his “buy 20 get one free” coupons. (Note: folks you ain’t saving money if you buy more than you need!). And then trying to stuff those coupons into the machine will take longer than the cooking time of all his products combined.

When I was a kid, I had a job stocking shelves in a supermarket AT NIGHT - WHEN THE STORE WAS CLOSED. Now they stock during open hours, blocking the aisles with massive dollies of processed crap and then they (the courtesy-challenged employees) give YOU (the customer) a dirty look when you ask them to move.

When you do check out with an actual cashier, there is always some blue-haired fossil ahead of you who actually seems startled by the fact that there is to be money involved in this transaction ... then goes hunting through his/her (but c'mon, we really know I mean HER) purse ...trying to find the exact change.

"Wait ... I think I have the 93 cents" - (TIP) If the cents part is over 50 cents, there is no value in finding the exact coins. Find the pennies to round it off to a 5 or 10 cent figure and then return every tissue you have ever used back into your carry-on-sized handbag. To pass the time, you try to guess who was president when she was born and decide it was probably Roosevelt (Teddy).

Today there were 15 people ahead of me in line; all with products that had incorrect bar-coded pricing (some of those products were probably not even from that supermarket's inventory). They all had no ID and wanted to pay with out-of-state starter checks. It was the cashier's first day on the job and she did not speak English.

But no matter how long it takes to do all my grocery shopping, wait in line at the deli, find everything on my list and check out ... it STILL always takes longer than that whole ordeal when you stop at the "customer service" (hahaha) counter on the way out?

There is usually one or less people (teen aged dolt) "working" there who devotes more attention to the customers on the phone than the ones ALREADY IN the freakin' shop. He/she can never find anyone's developed photos in less than an hour, has to page the manager for every transaction, can't find or figure out how to use the key that unlocks the glass cigar case, spends most of his/her time hiding in the back and has the IQ of sewage and the attention span of an opiated lab rat.

Then there is always one semi-evolved knuckle-dragger holding up the works because they want to check six hundred individual lottery tickets to see if they have a winner and then purchase 600 more ... each one some specialized specific combination of numbers ("Then one daily number, 6-3-8 ... 50 cents boxed, a dollar straight ...then 1 daily number 8-4-2 ... a dollar boxed .... One pick four 1-6-4-5 ... blah blah blah.")

And when they don't have Pall Mall Extra Light Menthol 100s in the soft pack, there is always some tar-lunged nimrod who then can't decide on a second choice of smokes. (This is usually the same guy who takes 40 minutes to specify the mix of flavors/varieties of a dozen artery-choking treats at the Dunkin Donuts).

And yes, there is always some socially-parasitic mouth-breather with limited language skills and body odor that could choke a rhino, trying to return an already-mostly-consumed item for some stupid reason like "the ratio of marshmallow clovers was too small compared to those bland untasty bits in my Lucky Charms cereal."

As a conscientious and intelligent member of society, you begin to feel woefully out of place; like Debra Messing in a Russ Meyer film.

And to top it all off, the line is dominated by acne-plagued employees seeking to cash their minimum wage checks or purchase some item with their 0.3% employee discount. And all I want is ONE freakin scratch off!

Watch in amazement as the non-functioning bottom feeder in front of you can’t figure out how to swipe their ATM card because instead of focusing on the task at hand, they are yammering on their cell phone.

“No I like got the small mushy peas in the can instead of like the fresh ones because mom likes the water in the cans. They didn’t have tofu burgers. And like … I got Trix instead because like there are never enough marshmallow bits in the Lucky Charms. So anyway, I heard that like Marcie likes Dave. Are you like going to Courtney’s party?…. Blah blah blah”


tmp00 said...

You forgot these:

In order to maximize selling space, the supermarket is now marketing stuff in the center of the aisle. An aisle that's 1400 feet long so there's no way to get around the person who simply cannot decide amongst the 25 kinds of Triscuits.

Old people who use shopping carts as walkers, and weapons.

Markets that close for a few weeks, slap on a coat of paint, some new linoleum, call themselves "Le Marquette" and charge twice as much.

Crunchy types who eye you like you're a criminal while you're exiting the place with your plastic bag while they're loading their SUV with reusable ones. (hey lady, I take the bus to work. I'm not carrying that bag with me all day. Call me when you ditch the Belchfire XUV for a Volt.)

Flora said...

ROTFL - this is TOO perfect!

They could do a Candid Camera episode with just my multiple failed attempts at the self-checker machines. I swear these effing things are all named HAL 2000...

NewKidOnTheBlog said...

Good one Flora.

"Hal" Like it. Like it.

And the thought of hearing "Also Sprach Zarathustra" playing in the background ... while the frustrated customers attempt to scan things with the label all frozen into a squished unreadable corner is just sooo "must be done".

NewKidOnTheBlog said...


That centre isle display is fair game. I like to get a running start with my shopping trolley (cart) and yell "RAMMING SPEED" as I near the soon-to-be-launched cardboard roadblock of space-bound dehydrated meat snacks and Triscuit UFOs.

Still hearing "Also Sprach Zarathustra" in my head.

NewKidOnTheBlog said...

As I mentioned, as a teenager I worked stocking the shelves of a supermarket late at night when it was closed and we were always instructed to keep the centre of the aisles clear

... but that may have been because the night manager liked to line up ten 2-litre bottles of coke into a triangle at the far end of the aisle and then he could roll a few frames of frozen-turkey-bowling.

NewKidOnTheBlog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NewKidOnTheBlog said...

You got me off on another rant Tom.

The shopping cart/walker/weapons people are annoying but what about those (Otherwise abled people) who ride around on their little motorized road blockers.

I don't mean the genuinely old or feeble ...but these lazy fat asses ... who need to be buying more food, like Keith Olbermann needs a bigger ego.

And because they are sitting, can not reach anything above the second shelf, spend what feels like days deciding between brands of the same old tosh as if they are the purchasing agents for Spago ...and squint to read every ingredient label from top to bottom before they finally get out of your way.

They take so long, I have to re-check the "sell by" date of everything already in my basket when they are done.

My old supermarket in PA did a 'relaunch' years ago and came back as an overpriced 'organic' upscale "food emporium" so fools could be separated from their money; loading up on imported dental floss and hand-woven quadruple-ply bog roll.

If the supermarkets want to be GREEN - How about GIVING those re-usable bags away instead of selling them. I miss BROWN PAPER Bags! Those razor-thin plastic things are of no use (perhaps with the exception of for those into auto-erotic asphyxiation). You need to double bag everything with them. And often when a clerk is bagging, they will put one item in each (double) bag. I remember once buying 24 items and when I got home, counted 46 bags!

GREEN ... MY A**!

tmp00 said...

ah, the fat trolleys. Don't get me started. I try not to sneer when a wheezing pachyderm in one of those mewls at me to grab them the uber-sized jar of Cheez-Whiz or Marshmallow Fluff or Deep Fried Lard they can't stand up to reach. Because I am trying not to be that person.

Needless to say, I am failing. The milk of human kindness long ago turned to kefir in my veins.

Christina said...

You forgot to mention a very important facet of the super market trip, GETTING THE GROCERIES TO YOUR CAR. For a minute imagine that you have to go shopping alone (gasp.. but some of us do). The problem starts here. You cannot wheel your cart out of the little tarmac in front of the store designated for carts and you would have to be on crazy pills to leave your groceries sitting in your cart as you went and fetched your car- BUT- lets say you did. You have literally .0000001 second to roll your car over those yellow lines, pop the trunk and get your groceries in . Oh NO….. you will not have one foot out of the car before the foreign security guard comes over a yells at you to move. So, me, the single shopper has to go with Plan B which consists of contorting my arms, fingers, neck, toes, any appendage really, into a tool to carry my bags the trying to press the trunk button to my truck which NEVER pops it all the way! What do I do then? I channel years of ballet training and use my tippy toe to open the door while balancing the bags. At the end you are left with scaring across your forearms and fingers from the slicing of the Waldbaums bags. Perhaps it is time to use Fresh Direct…..