Shopping Protocol

Don’t you love running into people you know at the grocery store?  Not.  If we go to one of the big box stores, I will purposely try to avoid running into someone I know.  I’m not completely antisocial, at least I don’t think I am.  There are just some good reasons not to come in contact with people you know when you’re shopping.

Here is the question that drives me nuts, and I’ve never come across a good answer. When you come face to face with someone you know in the store, and then you see them again in another aisle, do you have to say something to them again?  “Hey!  Didn’t I just see you in frozen food?”  Or, do you just ignore them and take the risk of them being upset with you because you didn’t acknowledge that you saw them again, when you know full well they walked within two feet of you?

And here’s the next thing.  Can you keep yourself from looking at what they have in their cart?  I don’t think so.  Do you want someone looking at the things you have in your cart?  Oh, sure it’s fine if you’re buying milk, eggs, and fabric softener.  What if you need suppositories?  What if you just picked up some KY and you don’t have a bag of rice to hide it under? And what if you do look down into their cart, and you see what you know they don’t want you to see, but you know they know you saw what they don’t want you to see.  Now what do you do?  “Oh, I didn’t see anything!  I didn’t look down! I didn’t see that?”

“What do you mean?  What didn’t you see?”

“Nothing!  I didn’t see anything!”

Don’t act like this hasn’t ever happened to you, unless you’re one of those people who order online and have everything delivered.  Which is fine, but now you’re not going to have the pleasure of running into people you know at the grocery store, and that part of your life is going to be robbed.

So, I’m going to propose some answers for the big retail companies to put in place immediately.

  • All shopping carts should be enclosed with tarps that prevent anyone from seeing inside.  Now you can buy all of those secrets to your heart’s content and no one will know.  On the front of the cart should be the words, “Don’t even think about it.”
  • Every store should have a huge shopping protocol banner on display so no one feels undue pressure to be social.  Here are some must-have rules:
    • In our store, no one knows anyone.  No one has to say “Hi.”
    • If you do choose to say “Hi,” only say it once.  If you see the person again, ignore them.
    • If you do choose to speak to someone a second time, the following are suggested comments you can use to avoid awkwardness.
      • “I hate shopping.”
      • “Have you seen my mother?  I’ve lost her somewhere.” (Doesn’t have to be true.)
      • “I can’t find wheat germ.  Do you know where it is?”
    • Aisle conversation limit – 30 seconds.

Shopping does not have to be traumatic.  It will be much less so if you are always shopping among complete strangers.  Acting like others are strangers makes them so. Problem solved!

But, what about the cashier?  They see your stuff.  And don’t you just hate it when they comment on what you’re buying?  “Oh, I love these!”  Makes you want to say, “Well, open the package and take one!”

The big item for next time:  If you see someone who has something in their nose, are you obligated to tell them?

Until our next post, happy shopping!

Where’s my coffee?!



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