As much as I hate to admit it, I am what is called a “loyal shopper” at one of our local grocery stores.
It wasn’t planned. It very much happened by accident. I used to shop at the store that was closest to me, not just out of laziness, but also because the chain is local to my state in particular. It was just a grocery store, beyond that. Nothing special.
I had experienced several mishaps in that store, including, but not limited to:
- burned by oil from rotisserie turkey that hadn’t been closed properly by the employee,
- served raw chicken from the “Ready To Go” “prepared” foods section, and
- sold expired meat.
So, mostly meat related, as you can see.
My first instinct, was to buy everything except for meat there, and then just hit the butcher shop for that stuff. That worked out. Briefly.
Long story short (this is short, for me), I ended up switching to a different grocery store altogether, which only turned out to be 1/4 mile further from my house. They do sales and coupons and all that fun stuff, where the old “local” grocery store doesn’t (my understanding is that they now have a loyalty program, which started right after I left – ironic), so I was already interested, because I fuckin’ love saving money. Right away, I began saving money, and it wasn’t two weeks, before I was hooked to the fullest extent of the (grocery) law.
Or so, I thought.
One day, I walk up to the register, and my favorite cashier, “Ginny,” says to me, “Hey, man.” (nods at me) “Do you do the preferred pricing program?”
Guh??? Preferred pricing??
Why on Shaq’s flat green earth, would anyone pay anything other than the preferred price??? It reminded me of that episode of King Of The Hill, where Hank finds out he’s a dumbass for paying the “preferred price,” which actually was sticker price the whole time, and he thought he was getting some sweet deal. Why was I paying sticker price for my asparagus?!
I immediately joined the program that day, and the addiction only got deeper. I imagined myself on Extreme Couponers, talking about ten cases of popsicles that the store needs to go get from their deep freezer out back, so I can pay 14 cents for them. I don’t know why I chose popsicles for that scenario. I don’t even like popsicles. I guess there’s still time to change this part, though I may just go with this.
So, I get this preferred pricing, and each week, I get my “frequently purchased items” at a discount, because it shows that I’m predictable, and they like that. One of my most frequently purchased items is Brown Success Rice (shoutout to Success Rice!) so I usually get a special deal on that. In my case, anything is considered a special deal, as long as it’s less than whatever you’re paying.
I put the rice on the list, and prepare myself to pay the preferred price of $2.48 per box (wooo!) for my tasty brown rice, which I did do. But when I looked at the regular civilian price, it was literally only one cent more. I saved a whopping ONE FUCKING CENT, on something that I’ve purchased TWO OF, every week, for the past 156 weeks. Not seeing how that’s a deal, but I did set the bar pretty low, so technically I got a deal. God damn
ass loop holes.
In addition to special pricing, I also get freebies from time to time. Usually, they’re in the form of reward points, which I can then convert into free items, but that’s not too much work for me to do, so I do it. The free items are always something I need. Butter, eggs, shit like that- so even though they’re Store Brand, I get them.
Here’s where things get tricky with the Store Brand.
I get a coupon for Store Brand British Muffins (I think you call them English Muffins). I go to the store to get the Store Brand British Muffins, and I get to the bread aisle, and they only have Store NAME British Muffins. They have Store Brand BAGELS, but no Store Brand British Muffins. Only Store Name. Needless to say, they didn’t honor the exchange, despite the fact that they had given me a coupon for a product they didn’t even sell. Dealio!
Sometimes, they give me a coupon for a free item that is out of stock, even though I get there at 7:00 AM on the first morning of the sale. That’s a fun one. I’ve completely given up on asking for those items, because the store employee generally doesn’t return from that fact-finding mission.
Last weekend, I went to buy spinach pasta, because I like to trick myself into thinking Alfredo won’t undo any nutritional benefits brought on by the pasta. (I can see the green through the sauce, so the veggies are still alive, I feel like.) The package says there’s spinach in it, so that counts.
The store didn’t have my brand (Delverde,
if you’re wondering), so I went with a different brand that looked pretty similar, and was delicious, just not as delicious as my normal brand. Out of desperation for spinach-laden pasta, I went with the large, inconvenient box of spinach pasta nests, that dwarfed everything else in the cart. When I got to the register, and unpacked my groceries, the cashier- who sees me in that store every single week– asks me the question I absolutely hate:
“Did you find everything okay today?”
Fuck you. I’m literally here every 168 hours, and never have questions, so unless the store has completely remapped itself, I could probably tell you where to find shit. Don’t ask me that.
Another thing I hate, on a side note, is this shit:
Cashier: “How are you today?”
Me: “I’m doing well. And yourself?”
Cashier: *crickets fucking*
Why can’t you answer me? I am right in front of you, and I have never once been accused of being quiet, so I guess it’s just down to you being a rude-ass, isn’t it? I realize dragging a bottle of dish soap across a laser beam is demanding of your focus, but surely you can spare a second of attention for the consumer?
Let’s get back to this weird checkout shit with the pasta, because I’m not done yet. The cashier picks up the big awkward box, clearly confused as to what it is, and makes an attempt at the Small-Talk-About-What-You-Bought game; another thing I absolutely hate.
“Is spinach pasta really better for you than white pasta?”
I looked at Matt, as if to ask him, “Are we on a hidden camera show?” But we weren’t. We were in real life, and this woman, who is around all the food, all day, every day, was asking me if the addition of a vegetable that is known to have some of the strongest nutritional benefits, would make a food healthier.
I told her, “Not the way I use it!” And then I ran out of there, without my stuff, just for dramatic effect.
The newest frustrating obsession this store has cursed me with, is the Monopoly game. If you’re one of those people who hands me their tokens after you shop, because you don’t play the game, you must take it from me: don’t even start playing.
Most of the things I win, are either more tokens to play, or free donuts from the bakery. Last year, I won a whopping $5, but the whole thing was so convoluted and annoying, that I didn’t even cash it in. I haven’t thought about what the threshold would be, as far as making something worth the effort to redeem the prize, but it’s probably not in my future, so that can just go unsolved. At this point, the answer is: big.
A relative on my stepmom’s side is one of those extreme couponers, and I see her at the store all the time. She doesn’t really say hi to me, and tries to avoid me, even though that’s dumb. I guess XC (extreme couponing) really turns you into a turd. While I admire her savvy spending, I can’t help but realize that I also could probably feed my family on $30 per week, if I still thought a diet of Honey Buns and Hot Pockets were a good idea. I’d rather just pay full price for the real food (like Success Rice!)
One of the funniest things I see at the supermarket, is how unorganized some people are. Their cart is all mixed up, and shit is getting squished, and their raw meat is stacked on top of their bread and fruit, and they just pile everything on the conveyor belt. No plan. I’m hard-focused when I shop, complete with a legal pad of every item I need, down to the price I am expecting to pay. Not everyone is like that, and that’s cool. Some people don’t have a list, and don’t care about the brand they’re buying, and don’t have any sort of agenda, so they don’t come unglued on their partner in front of everyone.
Sometimes, when I snap at Matt in the store, other ladies will laugh, and encourage me. Especially older ladies.
Other times, when he’s in the way of someone else, I tell them it’s okay to hit him. Then, when they laugh, I act like I’m not even there with him, and I’m just encouraging random acts of violence.
A lot of times, I just straight-up leave him at the store, if he doesn’t win me something in the skill crane.
(I’m just kidding about some of that. I’m not a mean partner, and I don’t condone violence. I mean, really, it’s Matt’s fault that he’s always in the way.)
One thing I DO like about grocery shopping (all shopping, really) is the part where they want me to give my customer feedback in a survey. Oh, honeychild, I fill out the surveys. I complain. I call the corporate office, if I feel so inclined. But the fact that they’re asking me to give my ideas on what would improve my shopping experience, is a bonus I always expect, but never get tired of. I think I have my own folder in my store’s customer service inbox.
If stores could do one thing to improve my experience, I would definitely say the number one thing would be, “Shutup.” Just shutup. Just stop talking to me, and offering me things, and asking how my day is. I promise, you don’t want me to engage in some fake-ass conversation, because it’s going to probably look like this:
Cashier: “How are you today?”
Me: “Fuckin’ terrible.”
Cashier: “Oh no! Well I hope it gets better.”
Me: “Yeah, I thought it was going to, but then I got stuck in some dumb conversation, and now, here I am …”
Cashier: *weird nervous laugh*
Me: “Are you laughing at me? I had a step-uncle who used to laugh. He’s dead, now.”
And that’ll be that, because there’s no way any cashier has enough in them, to shut me up once I start down that dark, dark road. Nobody can. Not even my step-uncle.
Improve my shopping experience by letting me bag my own groceries. I want to. I tell the baggers to get lost, when they try to come help me. “I can do it better than you.” I should start telling them other stuff, like, “Yeah, they fired you. Nobody told you? I just heard them talking about it over there. I think one of them was the manager.”
There is one major upside to bagging your own stuff, and that’s knowing that your alcohol won’t be thrown willy-nilly into the bag with your canned vegetables. It also means you won’t be bitterly surprised once you get the groceries to your car, to discover that there are a ton of singular items that are bagged alone. Has no one told them about microplastics? Or about how my Bag Hutch is dangerously close to 12 bags, as it is??
This post has taken me about a week to write, which is not as much sad, as it is pathetic and sad. I go grocery shopping every Saturday, and I have been shopping twice, since I started this. (Matt said to stop it with the self-deprecating posts, because nobody is as tired of my writer’s block crap as I am.) I rolled up to the checkout yesterday, and my favorite cashier (“Ginny” from before) was there. There was nobody in line, so that was a bonus, and when we brought up our cart, she says, “Yes! It’s my favorite couple!”
My motherfuckin’ money skills are bringing her joy. She knows I’m going to save money, and she absolutely loves that shit. She also knows I’m going to tell the bagger to fuck off, so she just ends up telling them how great I am, as soon as they try to “help.” She tells them I could teach them how to do their job better. She’s fully behind my skills and opinions.
I always feel bad for the next person in line behind me when I go to Ginny, because they watch her be so excited and engaged during our interaction, and then she turns to them, and the smile fades from her face, as she says,
“Hi. How are you? Did you find everything you were looking for today?”