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It was simple enough. I wanted cheese for lunch and we were out so I thought I'd go to the store and get some.
They say you should never go grocery shopping when you're hungry because your hunger will drive you to buy food items you see no matter whether you like or need the stuff or not. After shopping hungry they say you get home and start unloading your bags and discover that you've bought some pretty strange stuff, things you've never heard of and you'll stand there in your kitchen scratching your head and wondering what was going on in those store isles that made you buy such things.
Using the same argument - I guess - you could also say that you should never go grocery shopping when you're getting ready to write a newspaper column because you'll want to write about any annoying thing you come across.
I say this because just before I sat down here at Storyteller Central to pound out my latest column I stopped at a local supermarket for just a few items. While driving to the store and parking my car I was rolling over in my head some column ideas I had been thought of. But as soon as I stepped out of my car and began looking around for a shopping cart to help me transport a large bag of returnable bottles and cans into the store I started thinking about how annoying the whole grocery shopping experience had become. I'm not blaming these initial negative thoughts on the supermarket people because I don't think the they were directly responsible for any of my annoying experiences.
But, did you ever notice how when you're in a grocery store parking lot and you're NOT looking for a shopping cart they're all over the place blocking several choice parking spaces. But the one time you're looking for a shopping cart to help you tote bottles and cans into the store there's not a cart around for miles? It's not a big deal but it's big enough to annoy you when you're about to do something you don't even enjoy doing in the first place - shopping for groceries.
I finally located a cart a few hundred feet away and managed to load-up my bottles and cans and then headed for the store. Once inside by the six returnable bottle machines I was greeted by a man and woman with enough large plastic bags of returnables to suggest that they'd been saving their empties since the Johnson Administration and I was now behind them in line. Between them they were working all six 'can' and 'plastic bottle' machines.
Rather than wait a week or two for them to finish cashing in their bottles I just set my bags on top of theirs and proceeded on to the next phase of my shopping experience.
Maybe it was just the mood I was in but the next thing I noticed was the music coming over the store's speakers. It's never 'good' music and most often it's awful but for some reason the store decided to kick it up a notch or is it take it down a few notches, because the music being played was particularly annoying. I know you're not supposed to 'enjoy' the music played on grocery store speakers but the music I heard that day could drive some people to do something they might later regret. Normally I just ignore the music but it was so bad that it made me more aware of it than I normally would be, which also really annoyed me.
Annoyance over the music was soon replaced by getting peeved over not being able to find a particular type of cheese I wanted. I found some cheese in one cooler but I've learned that stores don't like to have all their cheeses together in one convenient location allowing you can shop for the specific one you want after comparing it with other cheeses. Stores today like to scatter items like bird shot so that something like cheese is spread throughout the store, requiring you wander hopelessly in a daze, wasting time looking for your particular type of cheese. I finally gave up looking and decided to stop at the small convenience store near my home to get my cheese. My decision to leave meant I wouldn't have to face all the people with forty or fifty items going through the 14 items or less 'express' lane.'
By the time I got to my car I was so hungary that I decided to go to a restaurant for something to eat. I was in no condition to go near another food store.
John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly
throughout New England. John’s e-mail address is
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