Apropos of the ongoing religious discussion around these parts, I thought this might be a good time to debut a new column. The Pajiba community seems to have a wealth of atheists and agnostics and though there are those who might argue, even the godless among us have our own rules and morals. I think I’ve mentioned before that mine isn’t a religious household, but still, we’ve struggled with how and what to teach our children about concepts like God or gods. And as people who consider ourselves responsible for teaching our children about the world and how to treat other human beings, we have been reading a book about religions of the world with them. More than that though, we, like any parents, try to teach our children common courtesies, rules of the roads, how to play with others, etc. And beyond the considerations of the Golden Rule, don’t many of us have our own little playbooks in our heads? When we drive vehicles, are there not unwritten, yet etched into our brains, ideas of what is right and wrong? When we stand in line at the grocery store, gnashing our teeth and muttering under (sometimes over) our breath about the lady trying to find 59 cents in change at the bottom of her voluminous purse, do we not fret over how the rules are being broken? Friends, let me assure you, rules are being broken. And as a responsible, godless person (though I do feel there is a certain order to the universe and quite possibly an energy that may substitute for your idea of a god), I have decided to lay out these rules right here at Pajiba. But fear not my little Pajbakids; I do not stand atop a mountain to declare in a thunderous voice the laws of life. If you break these rules, you may receive glares or random expletives but never will you be struck down, turned into a pillar of salt (or any other spice) or sentenced to a life of hard labor with only cold toast and lukewarm water to sustain you. And if you have a fish, chances are it will stay just one fish, but I can teach you how to catch more if you take me somewhere warm and sunny and provide a) a yacht navigated by a hot, shirtless captain, galley cabinets stocked with liquor and manned by a world class chef/bartender b) fishing rods and bait and c) someone to bait the hooks because that part is icky.
So for this week’s
sermon rant, we will tackle the Grocery Store Commandments Behavioral Suggestions. Whether or not you are a religious person, regardless of faith, I think you’ll find these simple rules ideas would improve all our shopping experiences.
1. Thou shalt follow the natural order of the aisles as one would follow road rules. If you’re in the land of right side driving, keep your cart to the right; if you motor on the left side of the road, keep your cart to the left. A simple but important courtesy, which overlooked, causes chaos.
2. Thou shalt not bring children on a full shop. People are frazzled enough trying to figure out what they’re going to eat all week, reading lists, calculating costs, talking on the phone (we’ll get to that) and trying to get the guy at the deli counter to acknowledge their existence without having to deal with your five screaming children. I leave mine at home, so should you.
3. Thou shalt not block the aisle. I don’t care if you haven’t seen Betty or Bob in thirty years, get the fuck out of the way. Don’t pretend you don’t see me, don’t be so distracted that I have to stand there waiting while you jabber on about how Maddie just started college and Uncle Joe just had his prostate massaged. Neither does moving five millimeters this way or that every time I need to get behind the exact spot you are standing frustrate me any less. Get out of the aisle or call each other later. Speaking of which…
4. Thou shalt not stay on your mobile phone while shopping. Listen, if you need to call home to find out whether babycakes needs white or wheat flour or where the supermarket usually hides the barley, go ahead and make that quick call, then be done with it. You people walking around with an earpiece like you’re ground frakking control and speaking at the volume necessary to direct plane traffic, oblivious to anything or anyone around you while airing your neighbor’s dirty laundry…one of these days I’m going to stick out my foot and trip you and I hope you break a tooth. I don’t want to listen to your shit and neither does the girl at the seafood counter, nor the cashier.
5. Thou shalt be aware of others. We all know who I’m talking about here. There are people who a) walk through the store in a daze or b) walk through the store as if no one else exists. These are the people who scoot through the supermarket pushing past you, carts darting out of aisles at excessive speed and smashing into yours and the ever-popular backing into you because they aren’t looking. Just as one must be aware of other cars and pedestrians when driving a vehicle, you must be aware that as you move your body through a crowded store, you might need to look where you’re going. I’m pretty sure I’m not invisible even if you are princess of your world so take a gander before you back that ass up.
6. Thou shalt not ignore the express line item limit. You know exactly what line you are in, don’t pretend you don’t. Asshole.
7. Thou shalt not enter self-checkout unless thou understands the procedure that lieth before thee. I don’t care if you’re 97. I don’t care if you’re retarded. I don’t care if you’re handicapped. If you don’t know how to scan or ring up your bagel, don’t get in that line.
8. Thou shalt be prepared to pay before the cashier scans the last item. Don’t play coy, you knew what was coming. Leave your 50 gallon purse in the car and enter the supermarket with your wallet out and coupons cut. Have your magical discount coin with extra sparkles at the ready. Don’t stand there like you had no idea you were going to have to pay for your groceries, wait for the cashier to tell you the amount and then start fumbling around. If you’re paying by debit or credit card, have that fucker out. If you’re paying with cash, make sure your little coin purse is open and that your coke-bottle glasses are already on your face so you can see the difference between a nickel and a penny. If you’re still paying with a check, have that shit pre-written but for the amount and have your damned identification out - it’s not like you don’t know you’ll be asked to present it. It’s not a bloody mystery every week that you have to cough up dough at the end of this experience.
And there you have it, eight simple supermarket rules to live by - they aren’t so difficult, are they? Sure, in the end we’re all a bunch of selfish bastards but for about an hour a week, can’t we all get along? And if we can’t, maybe we ought to think about turning food shopping into an extreme sport so we can at least have announcers and watch our bad behavior on television. As Suzanne Stone Maretto so aptly said, “You’re not anybody in America unless you’re on TV. On TV is where we learn about who we really are. Because what’s the point of doing anything worthwhile if nobody’s watching? And if people are watching, it makes you a better person.”
And being a better person is what this Sunday Sermon is all about.