Friday, 2 October 2009

I Was Prepared for Busy, I Wasn't Prepared for Stupid.

I haven't written a Friday "Stop the Stupid" in months. Maybe it is because I have been too busy to be so cynical, or maybe it is as simple as people have been increasing their collective levels of intelligence. I suppose this is what happens when a Harvard grad gets elected president. Believe me, there is still a lot of stupid out there. It would be too easy for me to comment on the ridiculousness that is the "Birther Movement", or the over-the-top health care lies that have been flung south of the border. I could easily comment on the recent distractions that idiots like Jon Gosselin have been attempting to create, or even how obsessed the media seems with the David Letterman story. But instead, I will focus my pre-Shabbat version of Stop the Stupid on my local grocery store.

Here in the north Jewish ghetto, grocery shopping on Friday is tantamount to admitting sado-masochistic tendencies. That pain is only acerbated when that Friday is also the evening before a holiday that will be observed throughout the entire weekend. Today I found myself in the most unenviable of all positions. I required a few essential items for a community dinner this evening, and a trip to the store was imperative. It is also a miserable day here, so shlepping around the city was a chore that I was eager to avoid. Hence, I found myself at the local grocery store that also happens to be the largest Kosher all-in-one in the GTA. Every Jewish household in the area must have been represented at this store. Women with children in tow picking up the weeks worth of Sukkot preparations, husbands sent out on last minute challah errands, elderly patrons eager to use this week's in store coupons before their expiry, and just average shoppers like yours truly attempting to get in and out without too much hassle were all part of the kaleidoscope of hell that I encountered. In short, it was packed, but busy I was prepared for. Stupidity is a whole other story.

I ran in to pick up carrots, broccoli and apples. Three bags of produce. That's it. Three bags. The store is wisely outfitted with three separate express lanes that are all supposed to be running at full tilt on Fridays. There is one aisle for 5 items or less, one aisle for 9 items or less, and one aisle for 18 (Chai? Coincidence, I think not!) items or less. As I had less than 5 items, I planted myself in the appropriate queue. Just as I was lining up, a man with a cart packed with 2 roast chickens, 4 packages of raw chicken, 2 babka, 3 heads of lettuce, a dozen or so yarhezeit candles, two packages of bottled water, and enough challah to feed the Israeli Defence Forces, forced his way into line directly in front of me. Ahead of him was a nice older gentleman with 2 challot, and directly in front of him was an older lady with 20 (yes I counted!) items. The four of us were at the end of a line that was at least 15 deep, so it was with some measure of raw irritation that I noted my companions complete lack of numerical prowess. As we inched closer to the Promised Land, I became more and more agitated. Who the hell did these arrogant individuals think they were? Were they simply too lazy to head down to the appropriate aisles, or was there an inherent sense of entitlement? Since we are only 3 days removed from Yom Kippur, I put my head down and engaged in my stress-relieving breathing. I choose not to get involved. Finally, the teenager behind the counter looked at the cart of selfish boor with the chickens and informed him that he needed to get out of this line. "Why?" he asked with distinct disdain. "Because you have more than five items in your cart", responds young girl. (For the record he had 6X5 items!) "Do I?" replied boor. He then proceeded to make a big production out of switching. All the while, older lady is now worried that her 20 items are over the allowed 5. BY A FACTOR OF 4!!! Nice Challah guy tells her to relax. It is just past Yom Kippur and he is ok with allowing her her place in line. He never asked me mind you, but stay she did.

After fumbling with her reusable bags, struggling with her cart, and pulling her store card and VISA from her purse, she belatedly remembers her coupons. She wanted to use all 4, but the disheveled check out girl informs her that it is one per visit. She proceeded to---ARGUE! AAAAAGHHH! She is finally persuaded and packs up her groceries into the cart and turns to leave. SHE HASN'T PAID YET! The girl practically leaps over the counter to corral her and to extract payment. Finally it is my turn.

My three bags are run through and I hand the girl a $20. As I do, the woman behind me engages my check-out girl in a conversation about her bag of milk. It seems that she doesn't want to buy it, because it is leaking all over the conveyor. "Go get another", says the girl. "Can't you send somebody over? It is too far for me to walk." Checkout girl then proceeds to climb on top of her station and attempts to flag down a co-worker. At this point, I lost it. "Excuse me", says I "Can I have my change and then the two of you can work this out." "Oh, OK", says stupid checkout girl. She handed me my cash and I bolted like the wind.

The entire escapade wasted over 1/2 hour. 3 minutes to procure the groceries and 27 minutes witnessing stupidity. Thank God for Shabbat.

Chag Sameach to all observe.


  1. I sympathize absolutely, and have a suggestion - next time you need a few vegetables, head to a small, local (and not necessarily Kosher) market. You'll be supporting small businesses and your sanity.

  2. To be fair, this place is not my local grocery haunt. I was in a hurry and didn't want to challenge the rain, so I tried what I thought would be the "fastest" option. I was sorely mistaken. Next time, I will certainly follow your advice.