Friday, October 15, 2010

Supermarket Hits and Missus

     I have grocery shopping down to a science. And I pay for groceries by credit card. I have a system for food shopping that ensures I always have the necessities stocked (olive oilHoney Nut Cheerios, diet Hansen's ginger ale), but leaves room for me to exercise my creative spirit. Trust me, feeding your inner artiste at the grocery store does not lend itself to budgeting. Impulse buys like venison or steel cut oatmeal do not seem to go on sale with any regularilty. So I email myself a grocery list and add items by re-forwarding the message to myself with the added items. As an aside, not only is it fun to get so much email (even if they are from me), but attempting to decode the final list on my Blackberry with all of those forwarding headers embedded in the text while pushing a shopping cart requires superior multitasking skills. 
     I have described my modus operandi for grocery acquisition to give a sense of how such a precise and complex system cannot include an option for "estimate price and go to ATM machine." Did George Bush (the senior) estimate the cost of pork rinds and take out cash to buy them at the grocery store? Of course not, he let the scanner do its magic and the snack got paid in some way that did not seem to involve cash. Ok, I don't have an entourage to buy me things... but maybe someday... Anyway, although George H.W. Bush was bewildered by the modernity of a scanner back in the 1980s, I embrace this wonderful machine and how it levels the playing field for cashiers throughout the supermarket industry. Gone is the need to ask the customer where an item was found so the cashier could go check the price. Just scan the items and move along. It;'s a beautiful thing.     So, except for one time in recent memory--an attempt to locate rice cakes in a local market in Phoenix (don't ask)--I can find my way around virtually any chain market in any major, left-leaning metropolitan area in the US. I'm that good. So I do not need to enlist the help of stock people, managers, or deli counter workers. If I am craving a quick hit of prepared sushi, I avoid having to converse with the market's resident sushi chef and go with whatever is already displayed. Don't bother me when I am in my element. 
     So you can imagine my frustration when the Grande Finale of the shopping experience--the Check Out--is marred by the cashier's inevitable awkward attempt at interpersonal relations. The cashier has undoubtedly heard me mutter about how slow the line is, sigh loudly, say (to no one in particular) that a new lane should be opened, and curse at the woman in front of me paying by check. Do I seem like someone who then wants to have the pronounciation of my name clarified? It never fails that the crackerjack cashier looks at my credit card and asks me: "Do you need help out, Mrs.--is that Le-veeeeen or Le-viiiiine?" First of all, unless you are going to announce my name at the Academy Awards or present me with a Nobel Prize, do you think I care how you pronounce my name? Let's have a little less chatting and a little more scanning.. And--and this is the killer--why does the cashier assume I am a "Mrs."? Did he google me on his Sidekick when he was pretending to look up the code for eggplants? 
     This attempt at connecting with customers was undoubtedly forced on cashiers during a mandatory staff training, but I am not there to be profiled, I am there to buy paprika and cottage cheese. It drives me batty not only because of the sheer irritation factor, but also because there is no equivalent for "Missus" for the Misters of the world. Until there is a term that identifies a male's marital status, let's just keep it all neutral. Ms., Mr., or how about "Hey, you?" It irks me so much that it almost makes me want to remain anonymous by paying cash... almost. 

1 comment:

  1. Addendum: Just returned from the grocery store where I was referred to with an alternate pronounciation: "La-vin."