Customer Service Is Dead At The Supermarket

I am not a huge fan of shopping, but I don’t hate it either. For that matter I kind of enjoy spending time and Trader Joes and Costco. They certainly are better than a crowded mall, unless it is right before a holiday in which case they are just as horrible as every other retail establishment.

Supermarkets aren’t all that bad either. I can’t say that I like them as much as Trader Joes and Costco, but any place that feeds me starts out with a couple of bonus points. All that being said there are some real issues that bug me about them.

To begin I want to know why they bother to set up 27 checkout stands as no matter what time/day or how busy they are I can guarantee that only five of them will be manned by a live cashier. That leaves 22 empty stands and several lines.

The problem with a line is that it leaves me with plenty of time to stand around and look for ways to entertain myself which usually translates into get in trouble. One day I’ll have to share the tale of juggling a seven pound watermelon, a small bottle of Vodka and a plum. It is quite entertaining but now is not the time nor the place.

Here is another thing about those freaking empty checkout stands that aggravates me. How many times have you been standing in line and seen this happen. A store employee ambles on over to an empty register. It looks like they are about to open it up for use. The overly optimistic part of me is always pleased to see this as I naturally assume that the store management agrees that it is considered bad form to make customers wait in line for so long that their purchases spoil prior to exiting the store.

More often than not that fantasy is spoiled. Here is the skinny on how that goes down.

Whenever I stand in line I spend a few minutes conducting surveillance. I look for the crazed crackhead who is seconds away from pulling out a sawed-off shotgun and robbing us all so that he can go score some more rocks. In my old age I may be a step slower but I still have a cannon for an arm and big hands. I can guarantee that I can grab a cantaloupe out of the cart, fling it at the crackhead and knock that gun out of his hands before he can harm anyone.

Or alternatively I can grab the gum and mints off of the counter and hurl them at him in a furious frenzy. While he is fending off a swarm of Dentyne I’ll vault over the stand and use the closest magazine to knock him out. In general I prefer People Magazine’s 50 most Beautiful People. It is a little bit heavier and whoever is on the cover is of much more use to me as a bat then eyecandy.

Sometimes I get bored with the crazed crackhead routine and I look for the crazy terrorist. There is a slight variation on the theme and a small change in how I rescue everyone and earn free groceries for a year. In the terrorist scenario I sometimes pull their kaffiyeh over their eyes and box their ears or sometimes I just show them offensive cartoons and make them go crazy.

Once I stopped a near incident by handing the guy lighter fluid and a couple of American/Israeli flags. The poor fella got so caught up in burning those that he didn’t realize I had taken his weapon.

Anyhoo, I seem to have lost my way. Time to get back to reality. And the reality is that while I am conducting surveillance I scan the registers to see if a new one is about to open because everyone knows that there is an artform to getting to that newly opened register. You can’t just walk over there. You’ll cause a stampede.

Heaven forbid that the herd notice the empty register. The trick is to quietly leave the line while muttering something about having forgotten to buy Spaghetti O’s. So you leave the line you are in and quietly mosey on to the newly opened line and then bam! They get you.

You see that newly opened register is not really open. It is a stupid trick that the store management uses to enteratain themselves. They love watching people lose their places in line. It gives them a big hearty laugh. This is also why I like to rearrange the shelves. Waste my time and watch me help you waste yours, you line shifting bastards.

All that effort to quietly move lines so that you can gain a better position and what happens. Nothing, other than you have given up your prior place so that you can start over. And just to add insult to injury you look back at the old line to see that the guy who was three places behind you is checking out.

Oh my, why did I ever move.

Did I mention my issues with the people outside the store. Have I told you about my troubles with the Girlscouts and their bleeping cookies, or the 17 clipboard carrying canaries who assault you with petitions that you must sign because if you don’t the environment will fail, children will die of drugs, oil cartels will rule the world and the poor Dodo bird may face extinction.

Perhaps I’ll save that for a different post. I have a lot more that I could write about including shopping carts. There is a shopping cart law that applies to me. It is the one that mandates that I must always pick a cart that has a bad wheel that refuses to turn and that when it does it must emit a squeak that is so loud dogs scream “Crap! that hurts that bleeping ears.!”

That is it for now, until next time.

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  1. TheJackB July 7, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    @Lori It should be the priority but they’re too busy in the back counting looneys and tooneys to worry about what happens up front. Those people make me nuts.

  2. TheJackB July 7, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    @marianne.worley I like the self checkout where and when available. Sometimes I don’t have that option.

  3. TheJackB July 7, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    @columbiarose It was a Quixotic quest for a quart of coffee.

  4. Lori July 7, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    Jack this will surely add humor and interest to my shopping trip tomorrow. “you line shifting bastards.” Hahahaha. I don’t get that about the number of check-outs being unmanned. It seems to me that the #1 priority would be customer service and that means getting your money as fast as possible. But no. 😮

    Thanks for the chuckle.


  5. marianne.worley July 7, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    I’ve solved this problem by becoming an expert at self checkout. I can scan barcodes, bag my stuff, and punch in my ATM code before I’d be able to unload my cart in a regular line. Sometimes, I even have “fans” who say things like, “Wow, that was fast!” Yes, I’m a true star. 🙂

  6. columbiarose July 7, 2011 at 11:30 am

    You conquered crackheads and kaffizehs in the Costco queue by cantaloupe candy combat, but quasi cashiers continually keep you confused? Quite a quandary.

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