Shopping with integrity: how not to be an ass

Okay, I get it. We all walk into a grocery store and our mind starts spiraling a thousand places at once, trying to remember our list (or looking down and checking our list), being distracted by all of the displays (specifically put there to distract you) or stopping to pick up something right inside the door. Then we look around the busy store and think, hey, I’ll just stick my cart right here while I browse the entire produce section. Then we leave our cart in the middle of the aisle just for a second to grab a sample. And so on.

Well, guess what. From minute one, when you get your cart and stand in the middle of the cart corral wiping it off with the supplied sanitizing wipes, you’re probably in the way because you AREN’T FUCKING THINKING. People are stacking up behind you. The poor schmuck assigned to bring carts back to the corral is waiting not only behind you but all those people. Everyone is irritated. But it’s fine! Because you won’t catch a cold from that cart now. You’ll just catch it from fruit someone else has touched, or the bathroom door, or pouring some coffee creamer.

I admit, I’m bitchy about it because I deal with it every day. Five days a week. Thirty-five hours hours of it (because I’m damn well taking an hour lunch to get away from people). It’s fucking obnoxious. It’s really inconvenient. It makes our jobs harder. And it’s extremely depersonalizing when a motherfucker looks at you, makes the decision somewhere in the depths of their slowass mind that you’re a fucking inanimate object, and parks their cart directly in front of you. Yes, it’s happened to me. Yes, more than once. No, I was not pretending to be a statue. I was working.

Not only that, but this holiday season, I had the joy of listening to people teaching their children to be inconsiderate shoppers. “No, honey, you just park the cart over there and leave it while you run around and get things!” Bitch, no you don’t. Why? Because then you’re causing congestion. It just doesn’t happen to be around you. Selfish much?

Now, there’s exceptions to this. They’re easy to figure out situationally. Just use your brain. Like, if there’s a ton of people in front of the cheese section and you need to grab a quick brie. Okay, set your cart against a display, grab it, and come back and get your cart. This is great. This is awesome. Everybody has to do it sometime. But it’s not cool if you stick your cart in front of, say, product an employee is actively stocking. Hard to tell? If it’s a stack of cardboard boxes, or cardboard boxes on a rolling cart, or anything on a non-shopping rolling cart, or an employee is going back and forth from it, or if it’s not some kind of display, or if you’re using your fucking eyes, don’t stick your cart in front of it. I skipped the “in front of an employee” part because we’ve gotten past that, right?

Don’t stick your cart in a swarm of carts building up in one area and then walk away. Again, congestion. Don’t leave it in the middle of the aisle because you think people can walk past on either side. It’s going to be in the way. I promise. If not for a customer, for some poor employee trying to push a rack of product through to keep it on the shelf for you ungrateful fools.

While we’re on the topic of stocking shelves and ingratitude, let’s consider that the employees deserve personal space. If you will invade someone’s personal space reaching for a product, USE YOUR FUCKING WORDS. If you are HOH and/or cannot communicate audibly, a gentle touch on the shoulder will do (do not, I repeat, DO NOT ever poke an employee in the ass for any fucking reason. Again, use your respectful brain). You can ask the employee to get the item for you. You can let them know that you’re going to be grabbing this item beside/above them. You can — and I know this is crazy — TREAT THEM LIKE A HUMAN BEING. It’s really easy. Sometimes people actually do it. It’s great. Seriously. It really means a lot when you’re treated like less than human most of the time*.

Now that you’ve gotten up to the register without inconsiderately leaving your stuff in someone’s way or molesting anyone, let’s consider how you treat your cashier. Having a shitty day because you just read a blog post about how customers are assholes? DON’T take it out on your cashier. Go home and kick your fucking dog if that’s your thing**. Don’t kick the people who have to be nice to you, particularly because you think you can get away with it. If you don’t want to talk? Say you’re not in a chatty mood. Seriously, there is ABSOLUTELY no reason, I repeat, NO REASON, to be rude to your cashier unless your cashier is rude to your first. Let’s give a specific example: When the cashier asks if you would like a bag for your items, do not say no if you then plan to stand there and stare at your cashier until they give you one. Additionally, when your cashier asks you again if you want a bag, because they’re giving you the benefit of a doubt, don’t narrow your eyes and shrug and say sarcastically, “I don’t know.” This is Lesson One of DON’T BE AN ASSHOLE. We all should have learned this in preschool. Grow the fuck up and stop now.

Here’s another good one: Don’t expect a random employee to know that you’re talking to them when you were previously holding a conversation with someone else and are still several feet away. Especially don’t use this while saying something that sounds exactly like part of your previous conversation. Especially don’t repeat yourself louder and louder without adding context, such as “excuse me”, or making any other indication that you’re talking to said employee. Do not then huff at them for being stupid. You’re an asshole. They aren’t stupid. They aren’t being unobservant. They just have no reason to expect that you’re a fucking crazy person who thinks they can read minds.

Don’t fucking pout when an employee tells you something is discontinued. It only makes you look like a fool. Sure, express that you’re disappointed. Ask them to carry a message to management that you’d like the product back. Ask how you can get in touch with the company to provide feedback. Do not put on a sulky toddler face. It’s not cute. It’s not helpful. It’s not original. 90% of grownass adults do this. Go whine to your book club, Becky. If you pout like a child, nobody cares. Also, don’t then yell and scream or be otherwise unpleasant (if this concept is difficult for you, please refer to Lesson One of DON’T BE AN ASSHOLE).

Don’t not bag your own items, but then tell the bagger where to put every individual item. If you’re that picky, do it yourself unless you are physically unable. If you are not able to do it, but absolutely have to have the avocado neatly nested in the curve of the banana, politely say that you are sorry that you can’t bag yourself, but please be so kind as to do it such and such a way. Or walk up and just say you’re picky. That’s fine. I have customers do that, and I like them, because they’re honest and up front and if they’d rather it be done a certain way they will usually try to do it themselves. Use your common sense. If nobody else is going to be able to meet your standards, do it yourself.

Communicate with the staff. We don’t mind providing help out. We really don’t mind (hurricanes excepted, but it’s still our jobs. We are paid well enough to provide good customer service, we just aren’t paid well enough to tolerate assholes). Sometimes it’s just nice to walk out of a crowded store and see some sunshine, or continue to have an actual conversation with you. It isn’t a burden (and an employee shouldn’t treat it as such. You should understand if they’re a little rushed or distracted, but complain if they are actually rude). We’re happy to get stuff off of high shelves. In fact, there’s a rule for how high we’re supposed to stack things to keep them accessible. If you’re 5′ and you can’t reach something that’s stacked too high on a shelf, let us know. Odds are, some employee has been complaining about this problem for a while and just needs a customer complaint to back them up. We don’t even mind if you’re disappointed that your favorite item is gone! Just remember that we’ve probably lost more favorites than you have over the years, and we’re happy to sympathize, not change your emotional diaper.

And that’s all I got right now. That’s just the frustration I’ve had in this last four days since giving my notice. Respect customer service people. Treat people like fellow human beings. Pay attention. Take your frustrations out somewhere appropriate. That’s all.

*I have the privilege of a white female. Please be EXTRA considerate to your neighborhood grocery POC, because they get treated even worse.
**I do not condone animal abuse.

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