I am not quick to anger. But this weekend’s grocery shopping pressed all my grouchy buttons. First of all, when I was paying for a grocery order, the person behind me kept encroaching until their shopping cart hit the back of my knees. Not hard, no injury. So I moved forward, and seeing more room, she rammed me in the back of the knees again! Tell me, how does a person push a cart until it meets resistance and not realize it is due to the person standing in front of them? When I turned around, she was completely oblivious. Both times.
Next, the produce market is a very small space. The fruit and veg are arranged along both sides of just one U-shaped aisle which goes from the front door to the checkout, so everyone travels in the same direction, single-file. All the regulars know what they want and how to pick up their items in order, from the entrance to the exit, without doubling back. If someone stops and takes 4 minutes to decide which cantaloupe to buy, you have to wait behind them! It is a grueling process. En route, staff are always restocking and you have to squeeze past them. Everyone’s patience is tested. Especially when, like this weekend, a shopper stopped to argue on her phone, next to an inventory stocker, so no one could get by, and she glared at everyone who tried to wedge their way around, as if to say, ” I’m busy here! What’s your problem?”
My #1 pet peeve when grocery shopping is that as I go up and down the aisles with my cart, I slow down at the end of each one and look before I turn into the next one. As you may realize, 90% of the population wheels around each corner without looking, and they get annoyed with you for “being there,” where they haven’t looked. Silly me, thinking the rules of the road should apply! And it doesn’t matter how big the store is. I’ve been to Costco on a slow day, with its acres of aisle space, and the other customers still bash your cart at every corner as if you were bumper cars.
In true Canadian style, I have never seen a skirmish in a grocery store, or even much snappiness. We all just step aside and roll our eyes and mutter under our breath to the next person, “Get a load of that guy! He must be in a rush!” and maybe we eat a chocolate bar while we wait and put the wrapper on the conveyor belt so the cashier can charge us for it.
Now there are a lot of other behaviours which don’t bother me at all:
- shoppers who divide their stuff into two orders and pay for them separately
- someone who asks for a price check when they get to the till
- the person in front of me who pulls out a wad of coupons
- the customer who counts out exact change in coins from her purse
- the family who send one member back into the aisles to pick up a few more things while the others stand in line
To me, those things are time-consuming, not deliberately rude. And besides, I can’t begrudge anyone who is trying to save a few pennies!
If you have difficulties maneuvering in public, you are going to dread shopping. I am always aware of certain elderly people who don’t hear me approach or don’t see me reaching around them, and they are startled over and over again – or they are convinced that I “snuck up on them” or “came out of nowhere” – due to their hearing or their slowing reflexes. There are lots of people who don’t fare well with crowds or with confrontations of any kind. There are so many possible social interactions when shopping – positive or negative – that I bet it can be overwhelming. What if you have a cart full of food and you have to use the washroom? What if the cashier says, “Next, please!” and someone cuts in front of you? What if your debit card doesn’t work? What if you are overcharged? I can see how some of us would think it through and decide to stay home instead! (try some of the advice here)
I am one of those rare people who likes grocery shopping. I love the thousands of choices. I love how you can always get some things dirt cheap, like a bag of potatoes or a can of beans. I love how I can eat so well and it still costs a tiny fraction of my household budget. I love that I can buy things that don’t grow here, like wheat and bananas. I love how I don’t have to grow my own food unless I want to! So every time I go grocery shopping, I have a grin on my face. Maybe that’s why people keep trying to bump me off?
Are you a happy or a grumpy shopper? What bugs you most?