Necessary Evils

I hate grocery shopping. I find it to be time consuming, arduous, and stressful from a financial standpoint.

Let me counter that statement a bit by saying that I am forever thankful and blessed that I CAN grocery shop.  The fact that I can go to a store, pick out food, pay for it, and bring it home to my family is something none of us should ever take for granted – especially given the poverty and hunger in this world.

So, I appreciate it. But I don’t have to like it.  The whole process, from the meal planning to the list writing to the coupon clipping to the shopping to the loading of the car, to the putting it all away… Ugh.   And I buy a lot of food – because I cook a lot.  We rarely go out for meals, so I cook supper at home virtually every night, and we pack lunches for school and work (btw, a chore I hate as much as grocery shopping, but more on that another time).  I try to plan meals and shop for about 2 weeks at a time, but still need to go back on the “in between” weeks to replenish perishables, produce, etc.  I have actually had strangers stop and gasp at the amount I have in my cart.  This of course makes me feel like some sort of grocery freak.

Since I spend so much time there, I have come to recognize the various types of shoppers.  In a way,  people watching has been one way to keep my anger management in check while there.  I present to you my list of G.T’s. (Grocery Types).

  1. The Pro’s – all modesty aside, I place myself in this group. Pro’s come to the store, list in hand, written in the order of the layout of the store. They have a set path, are shopping high quantities, and could probably tell you the location of an item almost as well as the employees.  As a matter of fact, they may be on a first name basis with some of the cashiers.  They have also developed an origami-feng-shui manner of grocery cart filling.
  2. Fresh From the Gym’s – These are the petite, fit young women who stop in briefly to pick up a head of lettuce, a container of yogurt, and some hummus.  Even though they have just completed a 10-mile run, they look great. And I’m usually seeing them as I’m reaching for a pack of oreos.
  3. Socialites – These shoppers greet shopping as a way to catch up with neighbors and friends. They may park for 20 minutes at the end of an isle for a chat, or greet a long lost friend with a hug in frozen foods.  My sister-in-law is like the Mayor of Wegman’s. She can’t go to the store without being greeted by a dozen or so people.  As for me, if I run into someone I know, it is generally either my good friend and neighbor, who also falls into category 1, or someone I haven’t seen in a long time when I look horrendous.
  4. The Outta My Way’s –  In a rush, playing a game of beat the clock, these shoppers are on a mission to get in and out fast. They have a determined look on their face, smoke is flying off their cart’s wheels, and you had best just stay out of their way.
  5. The Seniors – In many cases, the grocery store for seniors is an outing. It is a way to get some exercise and get out of their homes for a bit.  They have the time, God bless them, to roam the aisles, inspect each product and label at great length, and stop to have a chat with the store clerks.  Perhaps if I can ever retire, I will then enjoy the experience.
  6. Men – yes, I’m sorry men, but I’m lumping you all into one group.  Some of you are entering this foreign land for the first time in years….you are bewildered, slightly terrified, try to get in and out without injury, only to go into complete shock at the register when you find out how expensive it has become.  Others of you may be single, and are casually hitting the 3 aisles you need, basket in hand, a completely un-stressful experience.  And then, bless your hearts, are husbands and dads who drew the short end of the stick and were sent to “do the shopping.”   No matter how hard you try, you will come home with not enough of the right stuff, and too much of the wrong stuff.  But your efforts are appreciated.
  7. Cute Couples – Dating, newlyweds….these folks are happily shopping together, picking out food to make for dinner, enjoying their outing.  Or not enjoying it, as they are trying to raise a young family on a shoestring budget, and walk the store with a calculator in hand. I remember, I used to do that too, and the stress can be overwhelming.
  8. The Bewildered – Either new in town, or just new to the store, these folks have no idea where to find anything.  Have no fear, Bewildereds, go find one of The Pro’s – they’ll help you out.
  9. The Frequent Flyer – Shoppers who buzz in and out of the store frequently, buying only what they need for a day or two.  Often this applies the those who are single…. Although I have heard there are people who actually enjoy the grocery shopping experience, thus would like to visit often.  Foreign to me.
  10. Shoppers with Helpers – aka, shopping with children. These are the folks attempting to push a cart that looks like a car and is 3 blocks long through narrow aisles, attempting to keep their kids happy and still manage to get most of what they need on their list before a tired-child meltdown occurs.  I feel for these folks, as many of us have “been there done that.”  I still have nightmares of a particular personal experience that included a high level of exhaustion, my son as a toddler, and an explosion of blueberries.  ‘Nuff said.

And one more thought to share… I call it “Murray’s Law”.  No matter how well I prepare in advance, how good my list is, I will ALWAYS return home, unpack everything, and within one hour learn there was at least one item we needed that I didn’t get.  Today it was paper towels.

Happy Shopping.


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5 Responses to Necessary Evils

  1. Molly says:

    Take Pro to a new level — for you I-phone users there is an App called Grocery Pal. It compares sale prices of items on your list. This is especially critical for life necessities like Blue Bell Ice Cream which though still a full gallon is regularly priced just short of $7, it can be found for $3.99 this week !! Comparisons include local grocery stores, CVS, Target and Family Dollar.

  2. 1centforthoughts says:

    Ok, now this is a subject I’ve thought about.

    First, I would respectfully submit that there is another “GT” – the “Sale Buyer”. They are the folks who have the time and desire to travel from store to store to store to get the sale items – and lots of them. You know, the people who have 10 cans of tuna, 5 cases of soda and 4 jumbo packs of toilet paper at checkout … and that’s it. Maybe they aren’t another GT but a subset of The Pro’s and The Outta My Way’s.

    Second, the cute couples should be banned. Actually the security alarm should go off when they ENTER the store. Partners should not attempt to do any chore together, especially one that involves food, money and an object with wheels. My mother tells the story of my dad, upon retirement, decided he needed to accompany her to the grocery store. This woman raised (read fed) 6 kids for over 30 years and had a system. When Dad started to micro-manage the choices, she decided she could kill 2 birds with one stone and had him go “hunt and gather” one item at a time. She told him to go get milk – he would become a “Bewildered” soul, finally find it and then try to find her in the store. Kept him away and got the shopping done more quickly. This is the only way a man should be allowed to join the chore.

    Lastly, grocery shopping is the epitome of inefficiency. I have actually thought through the whole process (hold your comments) and counted no less than 8 touches. 1) take off shelf and put in cart, 2) take from cart and put on belt, 3) take from end of belt and put in bag, 4) put bag in cart (lucky people can sometimes have a 17 y.o do #3 and #4 though lucky is an operative word when they don’t understand the detergent bottle first, bread on top rule), 5) take bag from cart and put in car, 6) take from car into house and 7) take from bag and put away. #8? – when you take it out to consume. Show this process, if possible as a flowchart, to Mr. Murray – perhaps you will go out to dinner more often.

    And don’t get me started on the amount of stuff we now have to take IN to a store – lists, coupons, bags, beverages (I just had a thought – if I put wine in my travel mug, I just might enjoy this task a whole lot more …)

  3. 1centforthoughts says:

    After further consideration, I think I might have mis-identified the grocery type I called the “Sale Buyers”. They certainly could also be either members of “The Apocalyptic Bunker Bunch” or just your standard, run-of-the-mill “Hoarders.”

  4. Diane says:

    And who can forget the venerable “Coupon Queens”? This is the “GT” that has special filing folders the size of a business briefcase (with the laptop) overflowing with coupons for every imaginable product, organized by endless categories and sub-categories for quick and easy retrieval. Their bill starts at $423.83 and ends at $39.52 once all the coupons are applied. NEVER get in line at the cashier behind a Coupon Queen.

    I’m sorry, but I’ll never join this group, no matter how expensive groceries get – life is just too short.

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