How to grocery shop (Since there seems to be some confusion): A rant

I work in a very large (106,000 sq. ft.), very busy, very low-price grocery store. This means that this time of the month is always nonstop, balls-to-the-wall excitement - between the military getting paid on the 1st and food stamps being paid out, we get slammed all day long and most of the night with hordes of people doing their entire month’s shopping at once, and this being the week before Easter we have shopping for holiday dinners on top of that. I’ve been there since we opened almost exactly a year ago, and i’ve gotten to learn quite a few jobs so far - cashiering, grocery stocking, cleanup, ordering, cart collection, i’ve even learned how to drive a forklift. I enjoy my job - it pays well, it has the potential to pay a lot more in the future, and the store is part of an employee-owned company that invests its profits back into making sure working stiffs like me get taken care of. This is not a rant about that.

This is a rant about the people in the world who don’t seem to have learned the same things I did growing up. As a child I came to understand that there is a certain etiquette to the grocery store; procedures to be followed, forms to be obeyed, Dos and Do-Not-Dos. Before I worked for a grocery store, I believed that most people understood these things. I have come to the realization that a large number of people apparently do not.

I would, therefore, like to give the grocery store patrons of the world the following bits of advice on how to complete your shopping expedition expediently and with a minimum of fuss and frustration to store staff and your fellow shoppers;

Before coming to the store, make sure you have money. I cannot stress this enough; in order to purchase groceries, you need money. My boss doesn’t like when I give away the food for free. Make sure you have your wallet or purse with you. (Doubly so if you drove here.) Make sure there is cash, a card, or a checkbook in it. Make sure that we accept the card you’re carrying. Make sure there is money on your card. I don’t know how many times we’ve had to cancel anorder because a customer forgot to check whether their food stamps had been loaded yet and were trying to pay for $300 of groceries with $1.18.

Don’t abuse the electric scooters. The scooters are for the convienience of the elderly and infirm. They are not for joyriding. If you can walk on your own, you don’t need them. Please do not attempt to drive one of our scooter off the property and to your bus stop half a mile away. (Note: Kudos to the bus driver who called us and gave us a heads-up when someone actually did that.)

Pick out what you can afford. If you know you have $100 to spend, don’t put $200 worth of stuff in your cart and wait until you see the total to decide what you want to buy. The cashier and the increasingly-long line behind you will be fighting the urge to stuff you into the freezer case while you decide whether you can make do with six boxes of Laffy-Doodles instead of eight. It’s not as though calculators are esoteric pieces of forbidden technology that only rocket surgeons can wield safely. The phone you’re toting around with you probably has three of them pre-loaded on it.

Control your dang kids. Here’s a little secret; little kids HATE being dragged along to the grocery store. It’s full of strangers and bright shiny objects they’re not allowed to touch and they’re not allowed to do anything but follow you around for an hour. Is it a SURPRISE that they act out? I guarantee you that at any given moment of any given day you can hear the echo of a crying child somewhere in the store. It’s a wonder our species ever survived long enough to develop agriculture when our screaming younglings can be heard from farther away than a jackhammer. Believe it or not, it is not indeed necessary to bring your entire clan tromping through the store with you. Maybe you don’t have a babysitter, but that rings a bit hollow when both of you are at the store anyway. Moral of the story: If your kids are too young to be able to help, they don’t need to be there. If you must bring them, keep an eye on them and don’t let them run off - I don’t know how many times i’ve almost flattened some urchin who wasn’t paying attention and ran in front of my forklift.

Put your toys back where you found them. Perhaps you’ve decided that you do not, in fact, require 75 lbs. of fresh krill this week. Please either return it to the shelf where you got it from, hand it off to an employee, or give it to the cashier when you get to the checkstand. Don’t just toss it on a shelf somewhere and forget about it. Someone has to put that back eventually. The more man-hours the store has to spend cleaning up after you, the more your groceries are going to end up costing to cover that labor. This goes double if it’s perishable - nobody wants to find your salmon filet sitting next to the peanut butter the day after you changed your mind about it. That being said, that does not mean anything you change your mind about can just be tossed in a freezer. Your cheese, lettuce, potato chips, hot fried chicken, Pepsi, and training pants do not need to be stored below freezing. If you get a food sample from one of our samplers, please dispose of it in the provided waste receptable. Nobody wants to walk down the aisles collecting your empty cups of yogurt gunk.

Tell us if you break something. Spills and broken glass happen. That’s why we have dozens of cleanup stations with brooms and dustpans and spill absorbant and a maintenance staff. If you drop something, find us and let us know so we can clean it up. We’re not going to bite or make you pay for it or shackle you to the radiator and force you to slice roast beef for the deli. The cost of paying medical bills for someone who slips and falls in a spill we didn’t know about is a lot more than the cost of a jar of apple butter. The corellary to this is to look in front of you while walking. If there’s something spilled on the ground in front of you, for the love of God please GO AROUND.

Know the name of what you’re looking for. We are happy to answer any questions you may have about where a product is located. It is, however, imperative that you know what the thing you are looking for is CALLED. I cannot direct you to “that stuff from the commercial” or “the kind that comes in a green bag”. Some stores, like mine, have a large bulk foods section where you can buy products by the pound. If you are buying from this section you are expected to write the bin number from the product you are buying on the bag’s twist-tie. Please DO THIS. Our cashiers are not capable of memorizing the appearance and product numbers of the several hundred ingredients we carry in bulk. If you fail this step, please be prepared to tell the cashier what the item is that you’re buying. If I ask you “What is this?” and your response is “I don’t know”, it raises the question of why you would even buy something you can’t identify.

Coupons and you. While our chain doesn’t put out its own coupons, we accept manufacturer’s coupons. Coupons are good for the amount listed off of the product listed. You cannot use coupon X for a discount on coupon Y. It is not “false advertising” if we don’t carry a product that you have a coupon for - it would not be possible for us to stock every item in the world that a coupon exists for. If your coupon is for $1 off and the product is 75 cents, you do not get a quarter back for buying it. If the coupon is expired, we will not accept it. If it is a photocopy, we will not accept it. If our barcode reader doesn’t recognize the barcode, we will not accept it. If you clearly made it on your computer, our security staff will have a polite discussion with you and you will not be invited back.

How to check out. Make sure the checkstand you are approaching meets all three of the following criteria:
-There is a cashier standing at it.
-Its open light is turned on.
-It does not have a “Closed” sign on it or a barrier across the entrance.
Do not approach an empty checkstand and start belting your groceries. Cashiers are not genies who will appear if you wish it. Do not enter a line that is obviously in the process of closing down - cashiers are humans who have to take breaks and go home eventually.
Once in line, wait for the customer ahead of you to finish putting their items on the belt before putting yours up. If you see that they still have half a cart full, trying to put your things up is only going to create a mess when the belt keeps moving forward, your stuff is right in front of the cashier, and they still have items in their cart.
Please be prepared to pay at the end of your transaction. Do not wait until the cashier gives you your total, then spend several minutes looking around confusedly and passing $20 bills back and forth between your associates.
Once you have paid and received your change, your transaction is completed. Move forward, collect your groceries, and leave. Do not malinger blocking the stand while you put your change away, balance your checkbook, consult your horoscope, or work on your macrame.

And lastly…
Don’t shoplift. Our security staff is very good at what they do. We have cameras everywhere and the only place in the store you can go without being on camera is the bathroom - and if you go in there with merchandise, they’ll know. They will watch you and they will take you to the ground on your way out - which, while it’s pretty entertaining to watch, tends to make your fellow shoppers uncomfortable - and if they’re generous enough not to have you arrested and prosecuted, you will still be trespassed from all of our locations for 99 years. Thanks for coming, we’ll see you in 2111, tell the Priests of the Temples of Syrinx we said hey.

That is all.

I think that customers should be allowed to put their change back at the cash register, provided that they aren’t doing something like rolling coins right there. Or using one of those coin purses that have separate slots for each type of coin.

Other than that, I agree with you. Especially the bit about controlling the kids. Some kids enjoy shopping, but most don’t. And little kids need to use the bathroom more frequently than adults do, and no, you can’t expect them to hold it indefinitely.

Also, don’t block the aisles. Let other shoppers get past. If you’re shopping with someone, don’t park your basket next to your SO’s while the two of you consult the list so that no one can go past. If you see your BFF, now is NOT the time to park the carts side by side so you can catch up on the gossip. If you absolutely have to stop and chat with anyone, make sure that other shoppers can get past. Or I shall be forced to Smite you with my walking stick.


The only thing I can fault this rant on is that it ended too soon. I could have kept on reading this stuff for another 20 or 30 minutes if it had gone on that long.

Agreed 100% and you have a knack for writing.

I would like to add that these rules will also apply to the NEXT trip to the grocery store, and also to OTHER grocery stores. I seem to see a lot of people who appear to be visiting such facilities for the very first time, ever. I used to amuse myself by imagining that the shuffling, gawking, wide-eyed naifs around me were recent transplants from behind the Iron Curtain who perhaps really never had seen a big Western type grocery store. Now I just want to body check them with my shopping cart.

I give the OP a solid 10/10, despite there being no cursing.

Fuck those stupid shoppers. Fuck them up their stupid asses.

And throw them in the quarry, too.

Preach it brother! I just got off after a long shift and this rant lifts my spirits.

Stun guns. The OP needed to work stun guns into the rant. And maybe “sell your kids to an Asian sweatshop.”

standing ovation

Oh yeah. Like you say, I don’t know why people don’t know things like this - it doesn’t change from one time you get groceries to the next. My peeve is the people blocking the aisles in Safeway and Wal-Mart, too - I can’t think of a time I’ve been in either store when there was no one else in there, and you wouldn’t have been getting in someone’s way when you leave your cart in the middle of the aisle or you stand in front of the shelf for 15 minutes.

Don’t forget the parking lots, either - the lines are painted there for a reason. If everyone parks between the lines, instead of on them, we can get a whole lot more people in there. And fire lanes are not for “just running in;” they’re for FIRE TRUCKS AND EMERGENCY VEHICLES, not you using them as a convenient parking space.

The timing would be about right, that’s about when Winco opened their Tacoma/Lakewood store. In college, I used to go to the Top Foods out on Black Lake Blvd., but that’s going back a few decades.

To the OP, is there a hierarchy of jobs at a grocery store? A friend of mine interviewed when the other Winco was opening and was disappointed that they wanted her to work in the deli. She said the cashiers were the top dogs, and everybody knew it.

Meat cutters are the only ones who make more money than anyone else - everyone else is on the same pay scale based on how long you’ve worked there.

I don’t know if i’d call cashiers “top dogs” - most of them are part-time, same as the deli.

Right the fuck on.

If you want me to move on after you give me my change how about giving me my change first, so I can put it in my pocket, then the bills so I can put them in my wallet?

Instead I usually get the bills with the change piled on top and then a bunch of coupons and two feet of receipt piled on top of all that! What the fuck am I supposed to do with all that crap? I am going to stand there and sort it myself, something you should have done before handing me that pile of crap.

Safeway is the worst. If I wanted coupons I’d clip them out of the ads in the paper, instead several feet of pretty paper chains that I do not want are thrust into my hand on top of my money and receipt. And the receipt is a page of advertisements and info I don’t need either. You can buy a six pack of beer and end up with 1 1/2 feet of fucking paper. I usually leave it all right there on the checkout counter for the clerk to deal with.

This was the icing on the cake. If your rant wasn’t at 10/10 already, it is now.

Needless to say, I am an exemplary grocery shopper. At the checkout, I even put the heavy items on the belt first so they’ll be packed in the bottom of the bags.

I don’t know if it was a matter of pay, rather more about status or the ease of the job.

You left out: Count the number of items you have before getting in the express lane. DO NOT enter if you have more than is allowed.

Also: I’m putting my change back at the cashier. I just dropped a c-note in this joint. At least you can have the patience to wait five seconds for me to put my money back where it belongs. Hell, even hookers give you the chance to clean up and zip up before they make you leave.

Bet yes, the OP did well. 9/10

When this subject has come up before, there was speculation that they do it this way for women. The idea was that they’ll already have their purse out and open (having got the money out of it), and they can just dump the change off the top into their change purse, then handle the bills.

Damn, I was hoping I’d learn some new stuff but I already know this stuff!

May I add one?
[li]You rolled that cart out to the parking lot as a convenient way to transport your groceries. When you’re done with it, roll it on back up to the store or put it in the little cart corral thingie if the store has one in the parking lot. Do not just let it hang out in the parking lot on its own.[/li][/ul]
Those carts can damage cars if the wind blows or someone bumps it or some ghostie comes flying by it causing it to roll. Several years ago I heard a grocery manager say that those carts start at about $150 each so letting them get damaged or stolen is another way to jack up prices. But mostly I don’t want it hitting my car.