Grocery store panic. Or, a story about how Buzz Aldrin almost missed the shuttle launch

I don’t like grocery shopping. I get stressed out by how big the stores are, how difficult it is to maneuver the carts, remembering everything in any given section in order to avoid that frantic trip back across the store against the flow of traffic with the aforementioned unwieldy cart.

But, in my opinion, the stress of collecting your food pales in comparison to the panic I feel in the checkout lane.

I wholeheartedly support the decision most grocery stores have made to charge for plastic bags. I diligently bring in my reusable bags and I think it makes perfect sense. But, it makes check out oh so much more stressful.

Back in the day when I would tag along grocery shopping with my mom (with hopes of throwing some FudgeeOs into the cart) you unloaded your groceries on the ultra-cool conveyor belt, the clerk would ring them through and then a SEPARATE clerk would pack your things for you politely asking “Paper or Plasitc?”

Now, the scene plays out a little differently.

It starts with me patiently waiting in line sort of enjoying that the person ahead of me is buying enough food for a family of 12 because it affords me time to peruse the headlines of such literary gems like People and US Weekly. I calmly begin unloading my basket of goodies (always devoid of FudgeeOs, I’m sad to report) onto the still ultra-cool conveyor belt.

Once I’ve pushed your cart through to the other end the reloading happens. It’s here where I shine with pride in my environmental conservatism by unfurling my reusable bags. I leisurely start loading the first bag carefully packing everything grouping things by weight, size, shape and cupboard space for ease of unpacking at home.

But before I can get the first bag half packed, I always realize with slight panic (you’d think I’d come to expect this by now!) that the conveyor belt I thought was ultra-cool before is now GOING.TO.FAST! OMG it’s shooting food out at you at a pace that is impossible to keep up with. But, it’s not just the lightning speed conveyor belt, it’s the line up of people that has formed behind you. The line up that is not content with US Weekly and Star Magazine. A line up that probably has much better things to do like curing cancer and building rockets.

At this point, careful packing according to colour and smell has been abandoned. By now, I’m recklessly throwing food into bags but the bags are so big that when you sit them on the counter I can barely reach over them so I’m forced to slam dunk the ground beef on top of my heritage tomatoes. Food safety and concerns about squished bread and broken eggs are deserted.

In my head, all I can think is “OMG I’m probably holding up the next Buzz Aldrin. What if he misses the shuttle launch because of me!”

But, it just gets worse. Now, you’re at the point where your food is half packed but the grocery clerk has scanned everything and is not so patiently waiting for you to pay. Now you have to make a decision: do you abandon your packing efforts leaving the romaine hanging dangerously half in-half out of the bag to pay or do you make the clerk wait while you finish packing? There is a lot riding on this decision because that romaine is about to fall to the floor and that clerk is so unimpressed with your multitasking skills that she is snapping her bubblegum and rolling her eyes.

I usually leave the romaine to chance and pay in order to avoid the death stares from the adolescent clerk and Buzz Aldrin behind me.

So you pay and then go back to the packing desperately hoping you’ll be able to transfer the last box of bran flakes into your cart before Buzz’ jumbo can of protein powder starts barreling down that turbo-charged conveyor belt towards you.

The last thing I want is good ole’ Buzz thinking I’m trying to sabotage his space mission by steeling his protein supplements!

From now on, Matt does the grocery shopping. I don’t even care if he insists on buying crunchy peanut butter.*

*A note to Matt: I do actually care if you buy crunchy peanut butter. That shit’s gross.
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7 Responses to “Grocery store panic. Or, a story about how Buzz Aldrin almost missed the shuttle launch”


  1. 1 Ronnica May 13, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    I never go to the store without a book in my purse. I’ve learned my lesson…

    I wish I could bag myself. Or that they’d bag it exactly like I want…I’m picky (comes from years of cashier experience). I don’t know anyone around here (in NC) that charges for bags, but I know you can get a discount for bringing your own at Target at least.

  2. 2 michelle May 12, 2010 at 7:34 am

    I would just like to say: I LOVE this post. you definitely made my day. and I don’t like peanut butter, crunchy or otherwise.

  3. 3 LiLu May 11, 2010 at 11:36 am

    I agree with this 115%.

    Except the peanut butter. You are SO WRONG about the peanut butter.

    *high fives Matt*

  4. 4 Sarah May 10, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    hahaha I completely agree with you, standing at the end of the conveyor belt, packing my own groceries is totally stressful. BUT if I leave it up to some high school bag boy I end up with 3 items in a bag and a ton of plastic bags. I feel like a jerk telling them to pack EVERYTHING into my three reuable bags, but they just don’t do it right! I just need to have my groceries delivered like an old lady.

  5. 5 ria May 6, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    oh my that stressed me out just reading it! i’m glad we don’t have to bag our own stuff so i don’t feel rushed to pay. glad you have matt to do that job. and totally with you crunchy peanut butter is YUCKY, who wants chunks in pb?

  6. 6 Erin May 5, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    Um crunchy peanut butter is where it’s at. I don’t know how Matt puts up with you.
    Your post made me laugh, because I feel the same about the bagging.
    When I would tag along with Mom, I was forced to bag the groceries myself while Mom paid because for some strange reason she didn’t seem to think the teenage boys who were paid to bag should have to do it. It’s left me with a hatred for bagging my own stuff that’s only magnified now that Toronto is charging for bags. On a daily basis I don’t mind it, because I carry 2 small bags in my purse for the things I pick up. But for groceries, I hate it. If you tell them you didn’t bring bags, the clerk will nicely bag up all of your stuff, but if you do the environmentally conscious thing and bring your own bags you’re punished with your grocery items in an unruly pile that you have to self bag while holding up the line. Seriously, clerks, it is not that hard to take my bags and pack them as you scan them.
    I feel like I should create a public service announcement about this because I’m clearly really passionate about it.

    • 7 clairesuzanne May 6, 2010 at 9:42 am

      I share your passion and I humbly offer my services to help with your super awesome and super important PSA on grocery store bagging. I can script write, edit, act and I know a guy with a video camera.


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I'm Claire. I like to write about ridiculous things.

I love chocolate but don't think cheese and cake belong together.

I often wish it was socially acceptable to wear glitter before 10pm.

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