May 30, 2006

Supermarket Torture.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 9:28 pm

I meant to post this the day after my return from Florida, but Life 101 got in the way. Better late than never.

There is nothing that will immediately suck the vacation-induced calm out of you like the mandatory trip to the supermarket after a vacation to replenish perishables (and to buy lots of sensible food, which you’ve sworn to begin eating regularly). My trip yesterday proved the rule.

Coming from the wide-aisled, brightly-lit Publix supermarket in Fort Myers Beach to the Black Hole of Calcutta atmosphere of our local supermarket was enough of a shocker, but the crush of Garden State Vulgarians and mouth breathers in the place was the clincher.

Parking Lot Assholes. These are the knuckleheads who, upon sensing that a shopper walking away from the store with a full cart of bagged groceries just might be vacating a parking spot, immediately stop the car and flip on the directional signal, taking it on the come that the apparently-departing shopper will walk to a nearby car. Of course no one can pass this jackass while he plays parking spot roulette.

There are, of course, numerous open parking spots just past those being guarded by the Parking Lot Asshole, but God forbid the Parking Lot Asshole takes one of those spots and has to walk an extra twenty steps to the store.

Even if the apparently-departing shopper does walk to one of the cars being guarded by the Parking Lot Asshole, all the poor slobs behind the Parking Lot Asshole still have to wait while the now clearly departing shopper loads her groceries into the trunk, enters the car, fishes through her purse, and lights up a smoke before starting the car.

If I were King, being a Parking Lot Asshole would be a disorderly persons offense that would get the offender mandatory jail time.

Negligent Indulgent Parents. I have a flash for all the people who think it’s perfectly fine to let their kiddies push the shopping cart around. It’s not fine. In fact, it’s a gottdamned nuisance. The kiddies have no sense that other people are trying to navigate a crowded aisles, and they invariably either smack into you with the cart or completely block the aisle, while mom or dad surveys the array of canned soup. I don’t blame the kids; they don’t know any better, but I damned sure do blame their dipshit parents who ought to know better.

The Old Lady and the Check. After spending more than an hour being jostled, jammed and frustrated by an interminable wait at the deli counter because of a clutch of people who insist on purchasing a quarter pound of every-gottdamned-thing in the deli case, I finally made it to the checkout line. Foolishly I thought I had finally caught a break, as there was only one person ahead of me. She was an old lady who was accompanied by a woman in her late forties or early fifties whom I assumed to be the lady’s daughter.

After her order was run through the scanner (and the daughter did not lift a finger to put a single item in a bag), it was time to pay. The cashier told the old lady what the final amount was, and the old lady looked to the daughter to translate what the cashier said into some unidentifiable East Bloc language.

I immediately knew, Jimbo, this is trouble.

There was several back and forth exchanges between the old lady and the cashier, each having to be translated by the daughter. Obviously, the outcome of this tripartite discussion was that the old lady could pay by check.

Of course, the old lady had to make multiple passes through her purse the size of a pillowcase to locate and produce her checkbook.

Then, she began the process of writing the check. I swear that one could have written out the entire Declaration of Independence in longhand in the time it took the old lady to write the check. She would write a little, look up at the register total, hold a discussion with her daughter in the unidentifiable East Bloc language, then write some more, look up again at the register and hold yet another East Bloc conversation with the daughter. This went on until I thought my head would explode.

Finally … finally … she handed the check to the cashier.

The cashier looked at the check and said, “You wrote this check out for $100 more than the total. I can’t accept it.”

This triggered more tripartite conversation, during which the cashier explained that store policy only permitted taking checks for no more than $25 higher than the total.

The cashier left her post to fetch the manager. After a few minutes, she returned with the manager, and the manager again explained that the store would not take the check for $100 more than the total.

I assume that the words “store policy” didn’t translate well into the unidentifiable East Bloc language.

There appeared to be a standoff.

I began to mutter, ”Yo, this is a goddamned supermarket, not a goddamned bank.” Mrs. Parkway shooshed me, lest I create a “scene”. I could feel my blood pressure hitting the red zone.

The Manager then disappeared to consult with her manager. She returned five minutes later with the verdict, which was that the old lady could change the amount on the check by cleanly striking out what she had previously written. She could write in a new amount and initial the changes. Five more minutes of tripartite discussion ensued.

By this time, I was aggravated enough to have a bathroom accident.

Once it was explained to the old lady in the unidentifiable East Bloc language what was necessary if the old lady was to leave the store with groceries, she began the process of correcting the previously written check. This went a bit faster, as one could only have written the preamble to the Declaration of Independence in longhand in the time it took the old lady to change the previously written check.

What really frosted my stindeens was that at no time did it seem to bother the old lady or her East Bloc speaking daughter that other people had been waiting behind them for nigh on to twenty minutes while they screwed around with a check for about forty bucks worth of groceries and tried to get a hundred bucks in cash.

I’ll bet they were also Parking Lot Assholes.


  1. I know those people. I think they travel the country and lay in wait for unsupecting shoppers. Yes, they have been in front of me often. Why I haven’t had a stroke up to this point… I don’t know.

    Comment by Teresa — May 30, 2006 @ 11:52 pm

  2. I’ll never understand why one who intends to write a check doesn’t have the checkbook OUT OF THEIR LOCKED LUGGAGE well before they arrive at the actual register. Like, get the farookin’ thing out while you’re in Produce, straightening your babushka or what have you. And I s’pose it would be way too much to expect someone to have a check already dated, signed and made out to the “store name in question,” because those things can’t possibly be knowable in advance of arrival at the register unless one has precognitive powers about what supermarket one is in and what day it is and what one’s name is, which would just be spooky.

    Comment by dogette — May 31, 2006 @ 6:44 am

  3. “the Uncle Billy gene”
    When we were kids, our Uncle Billy was driving down the narrow street behind our house,
    Courtland Alley,after a snowstorm.
    .Some poor working stiff driving a oil delivery truck was making a delivery
    to the house next door, and because of the plowed snow, the delivery truck was blocking Uncle
    Billy from passing. God forbid that our next door neighbors had oil for heat.After 5 minutes
    of Uncle Billy blowing the horn and threatening the driver ala Paully Walnuts, Uncle Billy
    snuck up to the side of the truck, stole the keys from the truck’s ignition and threw the
    key ring down the sewer. He backed up out of the Alley, laughing like a crazed monkey the
    whole way. He came up to my window which overlooked the scene,he saw the now crazed truck driver
    who couldn’t start the truck,and was now looking for Uncle Billy.When the oil truck driver asked
    the neighbors who was the grey haired guy in the Impala, no one dared to give him up.
    Good thing that the old ladies in the store didn’t drop their car keys. That Uncle Billy
    gene, we got it.

    Comment by Cousin Gary — May 31, 2006 @ 7:34 am

  4. Cousin Gary speaks the truth.

    Comment by Jim — May 31, 2006 @ 7:43 am

  5. Boy did you hit the nail on the head. Been to Publix and California stores do compete well but the customers here seem closer to Garden Staters. Don’t forget the savants who don’t understand the meaning of 15 items or less in the Lina Rapido as we call it in Mexico of the West. Then there are the ones who can’t understand cash or ATM only in the Lina Rapido and insist on writing checks, often they are related to the Declaration of Independence writer in their ability to write the half dozen items necessary for a check. Finally, we have the cell phone assholes who need to push the cart with one hand, invariably into my cart, while they read and describe the ingredients to some other moron or stand in front of the cheese display reciting the pedigree of every wedge to some executive decision maker. I could go on and on but then I would have to start my own blog.

    Comment by Brian, "Proud to be a Veteran" — May 31, 2006 @ 9:47 am

  6. Who are you calling a vulgarian? You’re the vulgarian, you f#%&!


    (Sorry, had to do it. I don’t get a chance to quote lines from ‘A Fish Called Wanda’ often enough…)

    Comment by El Capitan — May 31, 2006 @ 12:30 pm

  7. I “always” park as far away as possible. I’ve never minded thw walk. If it’s raining…I don’t go shopping.

    Comment by Yabu — May 31, 2006 @ 1:51 pm

  8. In this day and age of debit/check cards, I always find myself
    muttering – in a tone that can be describe as a decibel above
    conversational – ‘who the f*ck writes a check anymore!?!’

    my wife invariably skulks away and/or hits me with this little
    tiny purse she carries… i swear to god the f*cking thing if
    lifted by Superman would make him groan in agony….

    Comment by SkumChiken — May 31, 2006 @ 2:59 pm

  9. We get a lot of the check writers in Florida..there are a lot of us old folks who don’t like debit cards and credit cards. I just go by the bank and get the cash I need on shopping days and pay cash..easier and faster although sometimes the clerks don’t seem to know what to do with it.

    Comment by GUYK — May 31, 2006 @ 7:26 pm

  10. … you just need to relax, Jimbo…

    Comment by Eric — June 1, 2006 @ 8:48 am

  11. welcome back… sorry for the rude awakening.

    I’ll see your supermarket old lady, and i’ll double it by the fact that I live in a densely populated metropolis with more geezers & crazies than I care to count.

    That’s why I order my groceries online from Fresh Direct and get them delivered right to my door whenever I tell them to… So I NEVER HAVE TO DEAL W/ A$$$holes ever again!!!

    Comment by michele — June 1, 2006 @ 9:05 pm

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