October 12, 2003

Clouds in my coffee

There's nothing like grocery shopping to put me in a foul mood.

Unless it is grocery shopping on a Sunday evening, when every brat-intensive family unit is also out chasing down provender while ignoring their loose little ones ping-ponging and skidding down the aisles, when they are not thrashing and shrieking in the kiddie chair of the grocery cart behind you.

Unless it is all that and the fact that I could not find the one simple thing that I saw in all the stores not two weeks ago -- I swear. See, I want a small black rug and small black plastic wastecan (not one made out of lucite or porcelain and which therefore costs the earth) for the bathroom, to go with my beige-with-black-and-gold-patterns shower curtain that I bought at Linens-n-Things two years ago. Of course now that I want something in black that isn't three feet tall and made of wire mesh (I am so going to put wire mesh in the bathroom on the real stone tile, yeah right) I can't find it. I drove so many places my ass went numb and I used an entire quarter tank of gas. There were tons of gold and beige and similar shades, but the shower curtain already uses as much of those two colors as I can stand.

So by the time I gave up and decided to go home I was too pissed off to go to the food store -- and then I was even more pissed off when I remember I still had to go to the store anyway because I needed some things that could not be put off. So away I goes! to Vile-mart, where it was raining bratty kids and their deranged parents whose grocery-cart-piloting skills did not reassure one as to their driving-in-the-parking-lot (or on the road) skills.

And hey, mister, how's about you get your fat ass out of the center of the aisle? Yeah, you there, leaning on your empty grocery cart, staring into space. I don't know what you were doing there, and I don't care, but I didn't appreciate having to squeeze around your well-fed posterior.

Anyway, that was my day. Huzzah.

Posted by Andrea Harris at October 12, 2003 09:00 PM

Man, that is truly a major peeve of mine - persons who have never mastered the art of polite and considerate use of shared public space. Hey, is there a display case in the aisle? Does it not therefore occur to you that stopping your cart parallel with said case while you leisurely gaze upon the shelves will completely block the goddamned aisle? Cannot said gazing be accomplished with your cart considerately parked in a less obtrusive space? Do you not notice all those other persons in the aisles, all of whom need to advance through the aisles on hunting schedules different from your own? I myself accomplish this amazing feat of not obstructing public space every time I do my grocery shopping, and I don't even possess an advanced degree! I shit you not, oh human concrete barrier, it's not that difficult a habit to acquire! And is it really necessary to enter the store with your cart and then stop stock still in precisely the place that will block all ingress? I mean, what is the freaking problem here? I could go on, but I think I've illustrated the point, no? For fuck's sake, the average chimpanzee probably masters this skill of gracious social living by the time it's 6 months old. What is your bloody problem?

Ahem. Sorry to go on so. And no, I haven't been banned from any of the local grocers. Why do you ask?

Posted by: Moira at October 12, 2003 at 11:09 PM

Huzzah, sisters! I say this every time I go to Wal-Mart. The thing that really gets me is that I try very hard to stay out of people's way. I try to park the cart so it doesn't block something. I try to stand so people can get down the aisle. I am constantly moving and gyrating to let them pass. It really bugs me when I'm in the way.

No one else gives a rat's ass. As you say, they stand bovinely in the aisles. They jabber on their cell phones. Their little children roam free as the buffalo, and about as gracefully, shrieking at the top of their lungs. They take balls from the toy department and bounce them all over the store. You know what it's like to be followed all over the store by a bouncing ball?

HEY (bounce) MOM (bounce) CAN I (bounce) GET THIS (bounce) HUH (bounce) YOU SAID I COULD (bounce) CAN I HUH (bounce) CAN I HUH...?

We always go to Wal-Mart at ten pm on a week night, and there are STILL people there with tiny children who are tired and cranky and their parents give not a damn.

This week, before we go I'm having two margaritas (I don't have to drive).

Moira, you've only been in Iowa for about ten minutes. How could you get banned in that time??

Posted by: Angie Schultz at October 13, 2003 at 12:11 AM

Well here's a mans solution to your problem. Buy any color rug and waste basket. Black Rit dye for the rug and black spray paint for the basket [matte or gloss, your choice] Still working on the Aholes in the aisles thing.

Posted by: terry at October 13, 2003 at 10:16 AM

Amen, sisters.

I make a POINT of going to Hell-Mart at 7 am on Saturdays, when all the idiots and their children are still a-bed.

in the rare instances when I have to stop on my way home from work for something, I am reminded once again of the wisdom in my decision never to breed.

The most egregious thing I ever saw, grocery wise, was two young (6 and 8 is my guess) girls turned loose in an Albertson's. They took a hard rubber ball off of the toy shelf, and delighted at throwing it up and down the aisles and watching it ricochet off the shelves, people jump to get out of its way, etc.

they wound up hitting a lady in a wheelchair.

Their parent was NOWHERE in sight. But you know the minute someone spoke to them, a huffy mom would be there, saying "Don't talk like that to my little ANGELS!"

hell truly is other people.

Posted by: ricki at October 13, 2003 at 01:20 PM

I have thought about blogging on this subject a number of times but I live about 25 minutes away from the nearest Wal-mart which is plenty of time to chill out with the stereo turned way up on the way home so by the time I have a chance to write something I'm no longer pissed off enough for a really good rant.

I'll second everything Moira and Angie said and add... Why the hell must everyone bring their entire families to the grocery store or Wal-mart. I HATE when a couple blocks the aisle for 15 minutes arguing over whether to buy Hunt's tomato paste or Contadina tomato paste or some equally trival decision while their three or four kids dance all around the shopping cart which is sitting diagonally across the center of the aisle. You go the effing grocery store every week. You know what's there. Discuss what to buy before you go then leave the kids home with dad.

Another thing I hate is people standing at the meat case agonizing over whether to buy the package of hamburger that weighs 2.09 pounds or the one that weighs 2.12 pounds. I'm not kidding. I see people do this every week. Just grab a package of hamburger and get the F out of the way already!

I once came upon a couple of elderly ladies, each with their own cart, blocking the cheese case while they discussed the difference between "mellow" and "mild." Since I already knew what I wanted I politely asked if one of them could hand it to me and one of them said, "Don't worry hon, we'll just be a minute." GRRRR. They took considerably longer than "a minute."

hmmm... I guess I did have a rant in me after all.

Posted by: Lynn S at October 13, 2003 at 01:21 PM

"No young human being, any more than a young dog, has the least claim to attractiveness unless it is trained to manners and obedience...

"A child that loses his temper, that teases, that is petulant and disobedient, and a nuisance to everybody, is merely a victim, poor little thing, of incompetent and negligent parents..."

Emily Post, "Etiquette" (1934)

Posted by: Greg Hlatky at October 13, 2003 at 02:11 PM

If your problem with wire mesh baskets is not aesthetic, but practical (scratches the floor/makes ghastly noise/whatever), just get one and some adhesive felt pads. Pads on the bottom, and there you go.

Posted by: Sigivald at October 13, 2003 at 06:05 PM

Well, it could be worse. All the major supermarkets could be hit by a strike like they are in St. Louis for the last week and for the forseeable future.

Posted by: charles austin at October 13, 2003 at 08:41 PM

Sigivald, the main problem with shopping carts or "baskets" is the people who insist on parking them in the middle of the aisle (usually diagonally across the aisle) and the people who let their kids push the carts and run them into everyone else. It has nothing to do with the carts themselves.

Posted by: Lynn S at October 13, 2003 at 08:44 PM

Yay, ranting about shopping! I am so in the right place. My favorite is the child-size grocery carts that kids can push themselves. With little "I'm Shopping Too!" flags on them. Grr. My old neighborhood's indirectly lit fine food emporium had them. Mindlessly rude Yuppie parents talking on cellphones about whether they should buy sea scallops or bay scallops while their children crash mini-carts into the elderly and infirm. Maybe the parents are just getting a jump on training their kids to drive like assholes.

Posted by: Ann at October 13, 2003 at 08:50 PM

Angie - you're right. Give it a few more weeks.

It's not usually the kids who are irritating me - lone adults accomplish that quite nicely. And if it is kids, it's not their essential kid-ness that's the problem - it's their execrable upbringing. I know goddamned well I wasn't allowed to make a pain of myself in stores, and my kid knows the code. (Cattle prods are such an effective negative reinforcer!)

Illustration: a couple of months ago I was in a store (in Portland) and it dawned on me that I had not become irritated by a large family that had been sharing my aisle space for quite some time. Mother, father, and four little boys, all well under the age at which cretinous sanctimonious yupster parents would still be mewling "Oh, he's only X (4,6,12,23), you can't expect children that age to control themselves in any way whatsoever!" (Implying of course that you are an evil child-abusing ogress for ever putting the hammer down.)

So I observed them peripherally. The children looked normal - bright, bouncy, and "vibrating", as children do, as if they were itching to get back out in the great wide open and let it rip. But they were keeping a lid on it as they followed their parents around, and actually noticing other people's movements and politely adjusting their positions to other people's convenience. Then I got closer and listened to the parents - ah, now I got it. Recent immigrants. From somewhere where they still held the quaint notion that children should be taught that they are members of a civilized society and hence have obligations of consideration and politeness to other members. Parents ought to be given little public health warning pamphlets when they leave the hospital with their first kid, pamphlets exhorting them to not delay anti-asshole training. Remember parents, if you wait too long, it will never take.

Posted by: Moira Breen at October 14, 2003 at 09:58 AM

Philipinos use discreet, noiseless, painful pinches to convey to their young that their behavior in public is not acceptable, or to quote my wife, "nabancit".

To suggest to people in public that their children should be less noisy and bothersome these days gets you the same reaction as suggesting that the 'little angels' would make a fine sacrifice to Moloch.

Posted by: Dark Avenger at October 14, 2003 at 05:59 PM

Many years ago, before we had children of our own, Jane and I were having dinner out, and nearby there were two children out with their father. The children started to horse around, and their dad immediately sad, "You come back here and sit down. This is a restaurant. You don't behave like that in a restaurant."

Thing is, it was a just fast-food joint. I was a little surprised, but then I reflected, where else are they going to learn?

I think about that dad every time I have to tell my kids, "You don't behave like that in a restaurant."

Posted by: Will Duquette at October 14, 2003 at 10:22 PM

To suggest to people in public that their children should be less noisy and bothersome these days gets you the same reaction as suggesting that the 'little angels' would make a fine sacrifice to Moloch.

I must conduct an empirical study of this.

Not to find out if it's true -- just for the fun of it.

Posted by: McGehee at October 16, 2003 at 07:00 AM

As a reluctant grocery shopper, I wonder if anyone else is as plagued as I am by the people who stand in the middle of the aisle, with the trolley, totally oblivious to the world, as they use their cellphone as a TALKING GROCERY LIST? Sorry for the caps, but this is definitely the No 1 reason for hating mobile phones.

What sort of lives must these people have. "Honey, I'm at the ice-cream freezers now. Should we get rum and raisin, or blueberry cheesecake flavour; hey, they got chocolate fudge peanut brittle blend .... no? I did not know that. I mean, it isn't likely they would use the carcinogen tainted peanuts is it?"

Thanks for sharing.

Posted by: Dave F at October 17, 2003 at 06:38 AM