Saturday, August 22, 2009

I love to grocery shop, I just hate the grocery industry

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I love to grocery shop. It is relaxing. That and touring the aisles of Lowes or Home Depot -- or any hardware store for that matter -- is very exciting for me. Hey, I'm a suburban man of modest desires!

So I went to Jewel this week to purchase groceries for my new strategic diet plan which I started today. (Read about it here.) Normally, I get upset over the new automatic checkout clerks. I can never get it right.

"Put the product back on the tray sir or face immediate arrest and detention!!!!" The machine always barks at me when I try the stupid technology. It doesn't work.

But worse is when the stores lie to us. Like when I went through the aisles today looking for good deals and then realize how easily us suburban shoppers are scammed. This time at Jewel Osco, but it can be at any store.

There were two displays of pop.

On the left, were 12 packs. You know, the long ones that fit conveniently in the ice box (my wife and son hammer all the time for calling the refrigerator the "ice box" but I can't change a lifelong habit. Okay?)

On the right, a stack on 24 packs of pop.

On the left, the sign reads, buy 3 for $12. Sounded great. I Started packing the three 12-packs of Diet Coke, an essential component of my Strategic Diet Plan (Atkins for six weeks followed by the Mediterranean Diet for life -- I'm Arab so the Mediterranean diet shouldn't be so bad.)

Then, after putting the three 12-packs of diet coke into my basket, I look at the sign on the right and it says, "Buy 2 for $11.)

What? Are we shoppers idiots or something that we can be so confused. I did the math. 12 cans at $4 on the left. And 12 cans at $2.75 on the right.

You have got to be kidding, right?

So I remove the three 12-packs from the shopping cart -- it's good exercise as I steam -- and then grabbed two 24-packs od Diet Coke on the right.

Really, does a grocery store have to be so deceptive?

Then, I go back to the meat section and you know how they have those island freezers and they are usually filled with boxed hamburgers, Polish and Italian sausage, and chicken. And on the "end" section, the little section usually set aside for specials, I see a sign in big letters: Now on Sale. $1.29 a pound. Inside, chicken, and steak. So, I grab five packs of steak. I figure, this will save me 50 percent from the estimated $45 for the steaks.

Sure enough, I get to the cash register, and the clerk rings them up at $8 t0 $10 each. I ask him what about the "sale?" What sales, he says. He calls back to the meat section and there I am, the goof holding up the whole line as everyone is staring at me like I am some cheapskate -- off course, as soon as this is over, I go to Red Box and rent four DVD movies for a $1 each, which I keep for two days, usually, and it's still cheaper to go to the video store and especially to buy them. But I am waiting and no one rings back. The clerk calls again, but this time the meat section calls back on the phone to the checkout clerk in the other aisle next to us. She hands the phone to my sales clerk and the line is now blocking the line in the other checkout counter and I have two lines of shoppers all put in neutral while I try to sort through this mess.

Oh, they explain, there is no sale on steaks. Just some of the meats in that special section.

Fine. I want the meat anyway, dorks. Just ring them up. And I blathering away at the poor college kid who is working his way through school, rolling his eyes as I explain the unfairness of my shopping trip. Oh, I don't blame him, but he doesn't want to listen to me.

And of course, I go to the Red Box and grab my DVD movies. And of course, I left the bottle of Diet Coke i bought to drink on the ride home and the clerk comes up and says "Hey. you forgot this."

And everyone is looking at me.

I'm going on a diet. have some compassion, people!

-- Ray Hanania

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