The Grocery Store Experience – Pet Peeves & Etiquette

Special thanks to Antoine Peterson, James Trask, Danny Cochran, JeVaughn Martin, Hurdylyn Woods, Michele Bookie, and Colleen Bailey for contributing to this blog.

Grocery cart

As a kid growing up in the neighbor’hood’ I had some interesting shopping experiences. We consistently shopped at Aldi or the corner store. When we moved to DeKalb, Illinois we shopped at Wal-mart. When I left DeKalb it was the busiest place in town, it probably still is. Currently I reside in Kentwood, Michigan and I shop wherever the deals are. No matter where you shop for your daily groceries you are bound to encounter someone that needs a lesson in grocery store etiquette. Yes, there is grocery store etiquette. I am not an expert in etiquette but I do consider myself knowledgeable in all things common sense. We all know that common sense isn’t always common.

Listed are the some people that you may encounter in the grocery store.

June Cleaver – the check writer
Definition: A person that writes checks at the last minute
Additional example: The old lady that doesn’t begin filling out her check until all the groceries are bagged!
Recommendation: Use a check card. If you insist on being old school write as much information on the check as possible while the cashier is ringing up your items. They can even write the check for you.

The piggy banker
Definition: A person that pays for their entire order with change
Recommendation: Call your bank or credit union to see if they can convert your change into dollar bills for you. If this is not possible tell the person behind you that you are about to pay with a jar of pennies. Another option is to let everyone go ahead of you. Yet another option is to go to the customer service desk.

Newman – The aisle hog
Definition: A person that acts like they own the store and shows no courtesy to other customers.
Additional example: A person that stands in the middle of the aisles and has conversations like no one else in the store exists. They block everyone else from getting around. When you say excuse me they act like they don’t hear you. Also, the person that parks their cart on one side of the aisle and gets something on the other side of the aisle. Don’t get upset when my cart crunches your Achilles heel. LOL!
Recommendation: Be mindful of those around you. You are not the only person in the store. You do not own the store. Pick a side and stay there.

The lane violator
Definition: People that ignore checkout lane rules
Additional example: The person that brings 30 items to the 12 items or less checkout line. Also, the person that has 50 items in the self checkout lane and has no clue how to use the machine.
Recommendation: Go to a lane with a cashier.

George Costanza – The impatient customer
Definition: The person that is breathing down your neck as you scan your groceries.
Recommendation: If you are going through the self-checkout lane understand that it might take the person ahead of you a little bit of time to scan their groceries and bag them. Never walk into a SUPER market and expect to quickly execute your shopping. The bigger the store the more people you will have to contend with. If you want things to go quickly head to a gas station, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, or something of that nature.

The selfish customer
Definition: The people too selfish to put the separator stick down to help the cashier distinguish between your items and theirs.
Recommendation: If you are in the regular checkout lane please put the separator stick down so that I can unload my groceries. If you are bagging your groceries in the self-checkout lane put up the order divider so that the next person can start scanning.

The gossip girl
Definition: The person that holds and talks on their cell phone with one hand and attempts to push their cart and unload their groceries with the other. This is like driving a car while texting-NOT GOOD!
Recommendation: Use Bluetooth or an old school ear piece while shopping. Once you are in the check-out lane get off the phone. It is rude to be on the phone while attempting to communicate with the cashier. Imagine if the cashier was on the phone while ringing up your groceries.

Walter Bishop – The conversationalist
Definition: The person that talks to you like you are their long lost buddy
Additional example: I am ok with the occasional hello but please do not talk to me like we are long lost friends. My goal is to go into the store, walk from the back to the front grabbing my groceries, and then purchasing them.
Recommendation: Be nice and say hello. Acknowledgement is enough, anything beyond that is annoying.

Cosmo Kramer – The confused
Definition: A person who stands in front of a certain item and doesn’t recognize five people are waiting for them to move. The items on the shelf are not going to magically change.
Recommendation: Step out of the way and let others grab what they need. If you do not know how to find what you are looking for ask for help.

Brother Man from the fifth floor – The hungry customer
Definition: The person that eats a bag of chips and pays for it when he/she gets to the register.

Recommendation: Eat a sandwich before you come to the store. Arriving to the store on an empty stomach is a bad idea. You are more likely to buy something that you do not need.

The inconsiderate parent
Definition: A parent that lets their child do anything they want in the store
Additional example: Letting your child push the cart around the store without assistance or letting your child run wild, screaming and hollering all over the store. Make sure that cart does not get pressed into my Achilles heel.
Recommendation: If you cannot keep your kid under control keep them at home. I do not blame the child that causes an accident or creates problems, I blame the parent. “Spare the rod, spoil the child.”

Ray Lewis – The Achilles buster
Definition: The person that crashes the cart into your ankles.
Additional example: This is when the inconsiderate parent let’s their wild child push the cart. This also happens with someone who get’s easily distracted in the store. Every time my wife pushes the cart and walks behind me, I cringe a bit. If this has never happened to you, be thankful.
Recommendation: Do not let your children push the cart. Pay attention to where you are going.

The unprepared customer
Definition: The customer that does not have their money ready at the check-out line. Did you forget you were in the store?
Recommendation: Have your money, debit card, credit card, or check ready.

The rude customer
Definition: The person that refuses to say, “excuse me” and will try to awkwardly proceed to reach around your cart to get something.
Additional definition: A person that jumps in front of you in the bakery or deli section. Am I invisible? What makes it worse is when the baker or deli clerk knows you were there first and they ignore you too.
Recommendation: Wait your turn. The wrong customer might give you an untimely elbow. Be courteous! Get in line. If applicable, pick a number.

The rude cashier
Definition: The cashier that hates their job and treats customers like garbage
Additional example: The cashier that uses their cell phone while ringing up your order. The cashier that refuses to place your change in your hand. The cashier that throws your food in the bag and smashes your bread with canned goods.
Recommendation: Get a new job. McDonald’s is hiring. You reap what you sow, be nice and smile. Your attitude is contagious.

Raggedy Ann
Definition: The person that comes to the store dressed like a throw away doll.
Additional example: The person that wears a robe to the store. Yes, I have seen this. The person that wears rollers in their hair or curl cap (Do people still wear these?).
Recommendation: The store is not your living room. Your clothing is an extension of yourself. We live in a world where the way you dress can determine how you are treated. Go to the store in a suit. I dare you.

Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head – The lazy customer
Definition: The customer that leaves their cart in the middle of the parking lot. It is even worse if you leave it in the middle of another parking space.
Recommendation: Please return your cart to the cart corral in the parking lot. This helps keep scratches off of everyone’s car. It also unblocks a parking space.

The government non-specialist
Definition: A person that that does not know how to use WIC and cashiers that do not know how to ring it up. If you don’t know how to use it, you probably don’t deserve it.
Recommendation: Read the rules before you come to the store.

Simple rules for customers

  1. Come to the store prepared.
    1. Coupons clipped
    2. Grocery list
    3. Plan of attack (Back to front, frozen foods last, etc.)
  2. Treat the store like a city with streets.
    1. Going on the right, coming on the left. Look both ways before you enter and intersection.
    2. Do not stop in the middle of the “street” to talk to people, other “cars” are behind you.
    3. Maybe we should put blinkers on the carts and add traffic signals in stores.
  3. Keep your children under control.
    1. If your kid comes into my airspace they are under my jurisdiction. I always wear a belt.
  4. If you are buying anything that requires age verification, go to a lane with a cashier.
  5. Be nice!

Simple rules for the store

  1. Dry off the wet shopping carts after the rain
  2. Remove the rotten produce
  3. Do not sell expired food
  4. Clean off the top of the dusty canned goods
  5. Keep items stocked, especially sale items
  6. Keep the store clean
  7. Be nice!
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