So, anyone and everyone can tell you that I am world renowned for my people skills and that standing in line and then talking to a cashier about what I intend to do with the asparagus that I am buying are some of my all-time favorite things to do. You see, I just love to no end trying to get down an aisle in a grocery store which is clogged by carts of people who either are looking at the cans on the shelf with utter amazement, as if they have never seen such wonder, or as if they are preparing a dissertation on American consumerism. A couple of my particular favorites are the people who either go down the middle of the aisle or leave their cart on one side and then stand on the other side reading labels. Here is something else I don’t get; I am not a particularly tiny fellow at six one and I am pushing a noisy metal shopping cart with the inevitable misaligned front wheel which makes all kinds of racket, yet they never seem to see me coming. I have to either; stop and use my Superman vision to bore holes in the side of their head, fake a cough, or God forbid ask to be excused so that I may pass. Because of my enjoyment of these things, I typically go buy groceries early on Sunday morning when the dew is still on the cans of Green Giant green beans. In an attempt to minimize wasted time there, I have even made up a preprinted list by shopping aisle of the grocery items contained on that aisle of the things that I typically purchase. This way, when I shop, I can skip aisles where nothing on my list is marked and on the aisles where I need to go, I know exactly what I am looking for. So, as I daughter calls it, I go into Turbo Jim mode and zip – zip – zip the grocery shopping is done and I am home safe from the horde.
I have been buying my groceries at a Wal-Mart grocery store for some time now due to proximity to my house and the decent prices. Occasionally, I get a tad bit annoyed with them suddenly being without a given product, but no worries, no big deal. Over the last few weeks, Walmart has done away with the early morning checker and you are forced to go to the little corral of two items or less express self-checkout counters. How exciting and overjoyed I was to have to buy a week’s worth of groceries while balancing them on a counter smaller than a TV dinner tray. I ignored it the first week and enjoyed a righteous anger – which I am very good at by the way. However, this week I saw the manager standing there doing nothing and decided to share with him my thoughts of enjoyment.
He explained that corporate was not letting them have a checker any longer at that time due to the limited volume of shopping at that time of the day. I explained to him it was precisely because of the limited number of shoppers that I was shopping at this time of the day. He explained if I needed any help with the self-checking unit that the attendant could help. I explained to him that the magic and mystery of a self-checker were within my limited skill set being that I could probably no doubt write the software for one, but that I did not want to do it given the volume of my groceries and the postage stamp size work area that I was being afforded. I asked why couldn’t the express corral be closed down and that attendant – who is, by the way, the fastest checker in the store – simply go work the check-out line as normal? Because he explained, she has to monitor the corral. Given that there were four customers in the store, I did not see there being a major traffic bottleneck if the express corral was closed. Corporate wants it this way, he explained. Why could he – as he was doing nothing but attempting a half-ass manicure with a car key – not watch the corral while she checked groceries? He had to be able to go wherever in the store he was needed at any time, he explained. Real reason – he’s the manager and he doesn’t play that game. He again said this is how corporate wants it. I asked if corporate was watching because I certainly would not tell on him. He apologized and explained that this was a decision by corporate in an effort to cut cost so that those savings could be passed on to me.
Oh, now I get it, you are doing this for my benefit! You are saving me money and giving me even crappier service than before – AWESOME! How many of you remember when they bagged your groceries for you and took them to your car? So, maybe at this point in the conversation, you are thinking I should have just stormed off – you would probably be right. Problem is I got awaken twice the night before because of storms setting off by alarms that I had to attend to and had a wee bit of a hangover from the margaritas the night before. So this is where you may want to stop reading.
So, let me get his straight, I say.
You are giving me crappier service to save me money. Here’s an idea – get rid of the guys that stock the shelves. Now just follow my logic train, if you will. Just forklift the palates of food out here and we will rip through them like the survivors of a post-apocalyptic world. Wait, wait, better yet – get rid of the building altogether. Just have a parking lot and drop off trailers of food, we can rummage through them like bums at the garbage dump. Man, I am on to something now. Hell, I can save us all kinds of money.
It was at this point, I saw him reaching for his radio before deciding that I was not totally homicidal. He apologized and said he was working to solve the problem and would do everything he could to see that the problem was resolved.
I said, as I rolled away with my cart – in my typical polite manner – “Don’t worry about it, I know how to solve the problem – next week, I’ll go to Crest.”