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Miss Jeanne, Grocery Shopper Etiquette Expert To The World

I was shopping at Trader Joe’s happily awaiting my turn to browse the frozen foods section. I like to browse the whole frozen case because they often have unusual and interesting ethnic foods. I stopped my cart because a lady was in front of me and then waited for her to proceed.

She didn’t move, and I realized she was on her cell phone. She turned and looked right at me, so I smiled, and she turned away and continued talking. I waited a bit more, then said “Excuse me?” She continued talking. I wasn’t in a big hurry, so I decided to browse a different aisle and come back to this one.

I came back and she was gone by then, so I continued my browsing behind a different woman, accompanied by a teenager, who was moving along at about the same pace as I was. Another teenager approached, and the three of them stepped to the middle of the aisle to chat, leaving the cart blocking my path.

The adult turned toward me once, so I smiled encouragingly, thinking she’d get it, but she went back to chatting. When next she turned, she asked, “Am I in your way?”, and I smiled and said, “Well, yes!” But in a nice way, with a chuckle. She did grab her cart and move it away.

As she pulled her cart away, a woman who had been waiting behind me cut in front to get something out of the case. I sighed loudly.

And that was apparently an invitation for ANOTHER woman to cut in front of me.

I lost it then. I screamed, at the top of my lungs, “ALL I WANTED WAS TO LOOK AT THE TANDOORI CHICKEN! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?”

Just kidding–I laughed. And then I browsed the case and found some lovely spinach dumplings. 0404-13

I freely admit that the grocery store is *the* place I fantasize most about blog posts I’d write on Ehell.    As I push my cart up and down each aisle, I dream of educational videos I would film exposing the common faux pas made by my fellow shoppers. As I ponder my shopping list I am simultaneously composing the video script in my head.   The dos and don’ts of grocery shopping.   I would become the world’s leading authority on shopping etiquette.

My personal favorites are the people who stop dead in the middle of the aisle or to one side and then cross over to look over something on the other side leaving the aisle completely blocked.  I’ll stand there quietly just biding my time until they finally move out of the way.   Lately I’ve run into more people stopping at the end of the aisle or mid aisle to chat on their cell phone completely oblivious to anyone wanting to get past them.    Oh,and the people who meet a friend in the store and clog the entire aisle with busy “get reacquainted” chatter and utterly clueless how they are blocking everyone from going down that aisle.   To me it seems so obvious….wanna chat it up? Get out of the way where you inconvenience no one.

It’s rare but recently I encountered a woman who rushed ahead of me to get into the check out line, realized she had forgotten something and abandoned her half emptied cart to go get it.   The seconds and then the minutes ticked by and there was nothing to be done as half her groceries had already been rung up.   I do not have a temper but this was testing even my patience and I was slowly starting to percolate into  full blown anger at the raw, unadulterated, blatant entitlement this shopper exhibited at the expense of the cashier and every customer behind her.  The mental video scripting went into high gear with me wishing I could have filmed this secretly from a hidden camera in my jacket button.   You forget something once in the check out line?  Chalk it up to your own forgetfulness which the consequences of you WILL NOT inflict on others.   You either get it on another trip or you finish checking out and go back for it and wait in line again.

And my real favorite, the cart abandoners.   They are ahead of me in the check out line, they deposit their purchases on the belt, pay for their items only to leave the cart blocking the check out line requiring me to push it forward and out of the way.

Trader Joe’s is a challenge to shop at due to the small store size, the narrow aisles and the crowds.   I plan my trips right as the store opens at 8 am when the crowds are not as dense.   My lat time there, admittedly not early but later in the morning, there was a field trip in progress!   Yep, a whole gaggle of women on a tour of the store blocking the already narrow aisles while paying close attention to the “docent”.   Lovely.

{ 129 comments… add one }
  • L.J. April 8, 2013, 7:38 am

    There are several good grocery delivery services and your local store may have its own as well. I find it well worth the delivery charge (plus tip) to rarely have to set foot in a grocery store.

  • Lady April 8, 2013, 7:39 am

    My sister has switched to Peapod because she swears that grocery delivery is the way to go – no crowds, no people pawing over the produce before you get to it, no kids, no schlepping the bags into the house. I can’t bring myself to do it because I honestly like browsing for new foods, but totally agree on each of the annoying scenarios above – it seems so obviously rude that its hard not to personalize it.

  • GoTwins April 8, 2013, 7:47 am

    About 2 months ago I decided to reduce my grocery shopping stress (which was due to rude/clueless fellow shoppers and 20 lanes with only 3 or 4 actually open). I now go to Super WalMart on Staurday mornings at 7:00. The store is virtually empty and my grocery shopping is pure bliss!

  • Double You April 8, 2013, 7:49 am

    Very recognisable… although I must say that – at least over hear in Belgium – some supermarkets with limited floor space add to the problem by making some aisles simply too narrow to enter with a shopping cart, so you have no choice but to abandon your cart in another aisle.

    Cart abandoners, however, are very rare over here, as nearly all supermarkets charge a small deposit (varying between 50 cents and €2) which you only get back when you put your cart back in its designated “parking space”. So even if one shopper is careless enough to abandon their cart, there will always be another one around who’s keen to pocket the deposit.

  • siamesecat 2965 April 8, 2013, 8:18 am

    I feel your pain. My pet peeve in TJs is people who park their carts parallel to the freezer cases or shelves, while they peruse the offerings. That drives me batty since they effectively are blocking a good portion of the stuff I want to look at. I try very hard not to do the same; if I need someting and I know its close to the end of the aisle, i’ll leave my car out of the way, and simply walk down and grab waht I need. If i want to look at all the stuff, i try and keep my cart moving, only stopping to pick up what I want, and then moving along. I also try and hit them right when they open to avoid the crowds. aohtough its closer to my office than home, so I generlaly go after work. But happy news – they are building one within walking distance of my apt, so once that’s done, I can go any time I please. YAY.

    The grocery store is bad for this as well. I think the “its all about me” attitude is rampant, and people simply could care less if they are inconveniencing anyone else.

  • E April 8, 2013, 8:19 am

    I have definitely experienced my fair share of grocery shopping frustrations, similar to the OP’s. The best one was during a late-night shopping trip to a Meijers, which is a 24-hour megastore with grocery only taking up about half of the store. It was around 11pm, and very few customers were present. As such, there were only a few lanes open, and these had short lines. I was finished with my shopping, so I got in line. In front of me was a woman that seemed to have no items and no cart – she was just standing there in line. Weird, but maybe she was just buying stamps, I thought. I started to place my items on the conveyor belt, when another woman shows up behind me with a full cart. The woman in front turns and says, “I was saving her a place in line. You’ll have to move.” I looked at her, shocked for a moment. Some of my items were already on the belt, and the checkout aisles are so narrow I would have literally had to pack it up and back out so this other woman could go ahead of me. I said, “Uh, no” then just kept putting my stuff on the belt. The woman saving the place didn’t even have room to go around me, she had to exit the line and go around to stand with her friend. I heard some grumbling behind me, but paid it no attention and just focused on my transaction. I spent the next hour just wondering at the nerve of some people, and the way that they drastically overvalued their own desires and time while undervaluing everyone else’s.

    I did want to add, regarding the OP’s story, that it is important to vocalize one’s requests. By just smiling, the woman on the phone may not have realized that the OP wanted her to move. It’s perfectly easy and polite to throw in an “excuse me” and to point to what you want to look at, and it’s a more effective mode of communication than a smile, which can easily be misconstrued as “Go on honey, I understand, take your time.”

  • Puzzled April 8, 2013, 8:21 am

    Well, you’ve hit on my pet peeve. It seems to get worse every day, and unfortunately, elderly people seem to be the worst offenders. Everything the OP said is true. The worst thing to me is when I have to go around someone. I always say “Pardon me.” I was taught that it was appropriate to respond, “No, pardon me,” or something of the sort. I have since stopped doing this since the response I usually get now is a serious glare as if I have just threatened to punch them. I will not stop going to the grocery store since I really enjoy it, but I have completely changed when I go. You know it’s a true emergency if I go to the store on Saturday morning, Wednesdays or after 5 o’clock in the afternoon. It’s a true test of politeness at that time.

  • Serena April 8, 2013, 8:22 am

    Where I live, unfortunately, Wal-Mart has not only the best selection of groceries, but also the best prices. I’ve been a few times during “prime time” and swore to myself, never again. I do all of my shopping between 3 and 5am and it is absolutely delightful. I share the store with only a handful of shoppers. True, there’s the stocking to contend with, but it’s hardly a problem at all and well worth avoiding the hassle of a store full of shoppers.

  • A April 8, 2013, 8:24 am

    I once encountered a couple of those friends who met up in the vitamin/protein bar aisle at Target. I looked around the sections that they weren’t blocking and then hovered around thinking they would wrap it up soon. No luck. So, I left the aisle to grab the other items I needed that day and returned about 20 minutes later. They were still there! So I again hovered around and finally heard one say, “Well, we should get together for coffee and catch-up.” I was both relieved and amused.

  • Cat April 8, 2013, 8:33 am

    I feel your pain. It’s as if good sense stays in the car when some people go grocery shopping. They create roadblocks, place shopping carts in such a way as to block other people’s access to things-expecially in frozen foods and the meat department., and act as if you are the invisible woman-they don’t see you.
    I say to myself that this is God’s way of teaching me patience and forgiveness and I have to practice it now. It’s better than throwing things at them.

  • WildIrishRose April 8, 2013, 8:35 am

    I may be the only woman on the planet who HATES shopping of all kinds, but it is a necessary evil, I guess. My grocery store does have a website where you can make your selections and the store personnel will shop for you. You can arrange to pick up your groceries ($5.00 fee) or have them delivered ($10.00 fee). I’ve done the pickup thing several times, but usually I just go to the store when I need to and shop. I’ve encountered all the above rude people, and I’ve probably blocked an aisle once or twice myself–it happens, and I’m very apologetic about it and move immediately. I can live with aisle-blockers without too much trouble, especially if the store is crowded, but I’m with you on the people who leave their carts to go get something they forgot. But again, I’ve found myself halfway done emptying the cart and suddenly remembered something I neglected to get–usually the clerk who is bagging my groceries will go and get the item for me. I try not to do this very often!

    The thing that works my nerves the worst, however, is those giant stupid carts fashioned as “cars” for little kids to sit in. They are ENORMOUS and very hard to push around. I’ve never had an issue with the children sitting in them, but the carts themselves are a pain in the neck. I wish stores would get rid of them, but I know they won’t. Dang it. And before parents of small children start blasting me for saying this, yes, I understand that they keep the kids entertained, but seriously, if you MUST use those oversized monstrosities, please don’t shop on Saturday morning!

  • elicat April 8, 2013, 8:36 am

    Amen. We have a wonderful local produce market that has a “10% off” night. It seems like everyone in town comes that night, and while shopping, people just stop dead in their tracks without checking if someone’s behind them. I’ve almost ran into a few people that way. The worst is that they offer free cookies and cider at a “major intersection.” Ah well. It’s the price one pays for a lower grocery bill!

  • Lo April 8, 2013, 8:42 am

    I love TJs but I too get frustrated with the small aisles.

    I have the luxury of only shopping with a basket, I rarely need a cart because we have a household of two and TJs is only for small special things, rather than a full week’s haul of groceries. I can weave around people quickly without having to take up space with my own cart.

    When I do go to our local grocery store that is quite crowded and I need to bring a cart I too go either early in the morning or later at night. Easier to avoid people that way.

  • Weaver April 8, 2013, 8:43 am

    There certainly are some good grocery delivery services available, but that’s not the point. People shouldn’t have to use them solely because it’s more convenient than having their path blocked by oblivious chatters or “I forgot one thing” checkout queuers.

    Personally, I don’t like those services much anyway because a) If I’m buying fruit and veg, I like to be able to pick it out myself (no, I’m not one of those dreadful squeeze every avocado in the tray people), b) those services often substitute ‘similar’ items if the one you ordered isn’t available (um, if I wanted that, I would’ve ordered it), c) it’s a whole extra carbon footprint on top of what I’m already buying, as a hefty van pulls up to deliver some bags of groceries, d) those vans can cause parking issues if you live in a neighbourhood with limited on-road parking, as I do, and e) my sister says she’s sick of going to Tesco and having her shopping hindered by all those staff pushing giant trolleys and collecting stuff for online shoppers. (Yeah, I’m being a bit tongue-in-cheek with that one. It does annoy my sister though *g*).

    Admittedly I’m being a tad fussy with all that, and I know that online supermarket services can be a godsend to people that have limited options otherwise, but I think the main point still stands. If you’re able and willing to do your own grocery shopping in-store, you shouldn’t have to be put off by a load of rude idiots who are either ignorant of or oblivious to basic manners. Ugh.

  • Heather April 8, 2013, 8:43 am

    In my neighbourhood, if someone has to leave their carts with some items already rung up… they pause the bill so that others can go through.

  • Cassandra April 8, 2013, 8:44 am

    One thing I noticed happening a lot lately that is driving me nuts is being crowded out at the checkout! Usually its a kid 12 to 16ish but its happened a few times with adults also. I get to the check out and start unloading my groceries only to have the person (or their child) behind me put one of those markers up and start unloading their cart leaving me absolutely no room to finish unloading mine. Then they stand right in front of the cashier as soon as I scoot over a bit to use debit card machine, so I have to lean over them to get my receipt or any cash back I get. Drives me insane!! I make sure my kids understand personal space and make them back up if they are getting to close to others in line. I guess some people just don’t care about how uncomfortable they make others as long as they can save a few seconds in line!

  • Weird April 8, 2013, 8:45 am

    Why sit and steam? Just say “excuse me please.”

  • Hanna April 8, 2013, 8:47 am

    I once had an issue AFTER I had finished my shopping and I had pushed my cart outside to load my car. Now, this was an older gentleman so I definitely tried to give him a break. We were parked right next to each other in the parking lot and had gotten to our cars with our groceries at relatively the same time. His car was parked by my driver’s side door. After loading everything into my trunk, he proceeded to open his passenger door (directly next to my driver’s door) and started loading his groceries into his passenger’s seat. Since his door was open, it directly blocked all passage way to get into my car (unless I crawled through my passenger’s side door – something I did not feel so inclined to do).

    The grocery story was the kind you bring your own bags to, or grab empty boxes off the shelves and a lot of people simply do neither if they don’t have a lot of groceries to get. This man didn’t have any bags or boxes so he was unloading his 15 cans of canned goods one by one into his passenger seat. I kind of stood near my trunk and just waited for him. I got his attention and he said “I guess I’m in your way aren’t I?” I kind of chuckled and said “yes” but inwardly I was groaning since he was a) being extremely slow and b) not seeming to at all care that I could not get into my car. Finally after waiting another couple minutes and him not being half way unloaded, he finally allowed me to get into my car and started loading his items into another door.

    Why he couldn’t just load them into his trunk to begin with is beyond me, but people seriously need to be aware of their surroundings.

  • Sharon April 8, 2013, 8:49 am

    My biggest complaint about Trader Joes–and I know this makes me sound like a terrible person–is the supply of “kid sized” grocery carts and all the little munchkins pushing them around. I’ve almost tripped over them numerous times, been run into, etc….I just want to get in the store and out!! I don’t want to be a part of some other family’s role playing, “helping mommy” or whatever.

  • Weaver April 8, 2013, 8:51 am

    Gosh, oops, I didn’t realise I’d rattled out such an essay. A correction though: it’s a whole extra carbon footprint on top of what I’m already buying – I meant to specify that that’s the case for people like myself who are lucky enough to live within bag-lugging distance of a decent supermarket. Otherwise, obviously, that point doesn’t hold water!

  • Merrilee April 8, 2013, 8:51 am

    And this is why I get myself out of bed early on Saturday morning and go to the grocery store when it opens. No one wants to get up early on Saturday morning, and the store is empty – it’s wonderful to be able to shop with no one blocking the aisles, or trying to run me over with their cart, or invading my personal space at the checkout line. I can be in and out of the store in 30 minutes, like a grocery ninja. It’s fabulous.

  • Nissa April 8, 2013, 8:52 am

    I do my grocery shopping later in the evening to purposely avoid people as well. My mom and I have a theory that when you go to a certain super grocery store that they pump special air in there that makes a person think she is the only shopper in the whole store. I do the polite waiting for a minute or so and then will say, “Excuse me,” as politely as possible.

    I use the cloth shopping bags when I shop, so sometimes I have to get a bag open or rearrange things in a bag. Whenever I have to do that, I move to a place where I am not in anyone’s way before rearranging things. I TRY my best to be aware of other shoppers, but I admit to being guilty of occasionally getting caught up in my own thoughts and not noticing that someone is waiting on me so they can pass.

  • Erin April 8, 2013, 8:56 am

    I was shopping at Costco once, where the aisles are very very wide, and a couple in front of me stopped their cart in the middle of the aisle while they each looked at things on opposite sides of the cart. They actually managed to block the approximately 10′ wide aisle with obliviousness.

  • Bibianne April 8, 2013, 8:58 am

    Actually, my husband and I love to shop at TJ when they open … on a Sunday morning 8-)… and I LOVE their cashiers. There was an older gentleman trying to find the fasterst register and the lad at the counter told him (when he tried to cut in line) with: ” This lady is next in line”. 😎
    I try to go early and am not shy about ” Excuse me, please? ” to get around people. I also try to e aware of my surroundings. And no, my phone is NOT grafted to my ear. ;-P

  • Jane April 8, 2013, 8:58 am

    I love trying new and different foods, so I also like to take my time and browse at the grocery store. I go to a locally owned, smaller grocery store and I usually don’t have any problems with crowds. Anytime I deviate from my usual store and into a chain, it’s nothing but a headache. Ugh.

    Our area doesn’t offer delivery service yet, but I’m sure it’s on the way.

  • LonelyHound April 8, 2013, 9:01 am

    I do not know if this cashier was rude or not, but I am grateful for her actions. My husband and I were shopping at Sprouts, one of our favorite grocery stores, when we unwittingly got into a “race” for an available cashier. The race consisted of us choosing a bulk foods aisle to wander down as we made our way to the check out and another couple pulling ahead of us blocking the aisle exit. When we excused ourselves to get to the register they looked at us and pulled up to the belt. What did we care, we were in line. They unload the food and then the wife/girlfriend looks at her list exclaiming that she forgot a few things. Now my husband at one time worked as a cashier so this makes him grumpy but he says nothing. Since, all the check out lines are full of people and it is a busy time the cashier begins ringing up the food items. The cashier finishes bagging and ringing up all the items. She looks at the husband/boyfriend and says he can either pay for the items or he can get to the back of the line and when his other half joins him they can pay for their full order. He whines that it will only be a minute and his wife/girlfriend will be right back. The cashier stands firm. Not wanting to go through the whole order again he pays and then moves off to the side across from the cashier. We say thank you and the cashier begins ringing up our order. When the woman got back no one let her jump the line and she had to wait like everyone else. Like I said, I do not know if the cashier was right or wrong; but I am glad someone stood up to them.

  • Mae April 8, 2013, 9:11 am

    The post and Admin’s response are things I, and I’m sure many of the readers, encounter every time I go shopping. And I hate shopping. Really. I do not have the shopping gene some ladies are born with.

    Like Admin, I try to go as early as possible. This is going to sound crazy but during the holiday season, (Nov-Dec) I will go to the big box mart store at 4 or 5 am, get my paper and non-perishable goods, then proceed over the regular grocery store, buy my produce/perishable items and meats, then be home and have everything put up by 7-8am. Holiday season is the worst to me because people are filled with holiday cheer and don’t mind chatting for half an hour while blocking the spaghetti sauce.

    Another thing that really gets me is the parents/adults that like to let children push the carts to keep them quiet. If they try to push with the kid, the kid whines and says I can do it myself or it ends up being so slow, I feel as I am going mad. Or the child bumps into your heels and legs because they think it’s fun. I had to actually turn around and ask an adult to please stop their kid from hitting me with the cart because the kids was just pushing willy-nilly, while they browsed their list and the aisle. They were at the other end of the aisle and had not noticed that their child was basically wandering around with the cart. Not only dangerous for others injury-wise, but dangerous for the child. Anyone could have snatched the kid and been gone before the parent had noticed.

  • Shorty April 8, 2013, 9:15 am

    I go grocery shopping mid-week in the middle of the day to try to avoid crowds. I don’t go any where near the stores during school breaks. I have seen kids running around the stores, ramming carts into people and parents looking the other way. I once saw an elderly woman get pushed down the ground (in a Trader Joes actually) by two children. I helped the poor woman up and told the children to be more careful. Their mother actually gave me the stink eye!

  • Jewel April 8, 2013, 9:23 am

    My personal grievance is with families who grocery shop en masse, clogging every aisle they’re in as they go. On the one hand, I admire the parent (usually the mother) who refuses to be forced into the traditional role of solitary hunter/gatherer and instead requires her entire family to accompany her to help with the shopping. However, being stuck behind Mom, Dad, multiple children, and (sometimes) the stray grandparent or aunt/uncle as the group casually meanders their way through the grocery store blocking passage as they go is absolutely maddening. I can’t tell you how often I’ve wanted to shout “MOVE IT!” or “AT THE VERY LEAST STAY TO THE RIGHT!!” to these familial herds as I try to get past them. Ugh.

  • The Elf April 8, 2013, 9:24 am

    I like to leave my grocery cart in the more open sections and scoot down the aisles to grab what I like. It’s easier to peruse and grab what I want without the burden of a cart. I also like those smaller carts that are basically two hand-baskets on top of each other. If more people who don’t have a lot to buy used those (or a hand-basket), the whole store would be less crowded.

    It’s pretty rare when I run into deliberate rudeness, most of the time it’s just crowded and everyone there is like me: eager to finish a chore. When I have the opportunity, I shop at atypical times, like Monday morning. It makes all the difference in the world.

  • Ripple April 8, 2013, 9:27 am

    I will give the “offender” several seconds to realize they’re in my way and then say “Excuse me.” Repeat as necessary, getting louder each time. If the owner of the cart is several feet away browsing and the cart is far enough away from the shelves that I can’t easily get by (often there are displays in the aisle as well, which doesn’t help), I will shift the cart enough to get by, and usually get a “Sorry.” If someone is on their cell phone and just looks at me, then I will tip my head and have a slightly exasperated look on my face – a smile is not usually good enough to get them to realize what they are doing wrong.

  • Din April 8, 2013, 9:33 am

    Perhaps you should learn to accompany the smile with a polite but loud, “Excuse me!” I think you’re missing the polite spine that is mentioned so much in E-Hell. It’s just the grocery store – what are they going to do to you?

  • momofeveryone April 8, 2013, 9:53 am

    i usually have to go to the store with one or more kids in tow. i am SUPER cutious bc i know what its like trying to get in and out and some idiot mom is letting her gaggle run amok. i aslo make my kids say excuse me please and thank you when we do need to go infront of someone. if the only thing i teach my kids is to be polite then i think ive done a fine job.

  • Kara April 8, 2013, 9:53 am

    I love my 24-hour grocery store.

    Unless I need to go to the seafood counter or the deli counter to get stuff sliced up or weighed out individually, I shop late at night when it is just me, college/grad students, and second-shift folks just off of their jobs. It is pretty empty and I get to avoid scenarios like those described.

  • Ergala April 8, 2013, 10:10 am

    I wish we had delivery, but then again I need to go in to see the deals myself. We only have three grocery stores here.

    I deal with the rudeness CONSTANTLY. In one of the stores a mother allowed her two children to grab ferns from the florist department and run back and forth in front of the entrance to the registers. She was down in the dairy aisle chatting with a friend and looked over at her kids every so often. I was nearly plowed into several times and the kids just kept on going back and forth. The cashier and I were horrified and she said she was worried about calling her manager since the woman was a regular. By all means CALL HIM! That was dangerous and that store is frequented by the elderly because of it’s smaller size. Imagine if the kids had knocked over a customer who then was seriously injured?? My kids have to stay by my side the whole time.

    Then you have the line racers. I’ll be standing there in line at the back for a good 5 or 10 minutes while the people ahead of me unload their carts, go through their coupons, argue the prices…you name it. A person will get behind me and literally 30 seconds later “LINE 3 CAN TAKE CUSTOMERS NOW!” and the person behind me will literally run to line 3 when they see me move in that direction. I just find it rude. When a line opens up I ask the person ahead of me if they want to go ahead of me to that line and I follow them. I don’t race anyone anywhere.

    I’ve actually had people take stuff out of my cart too. When I protested they said “It’s not like you already bought it…”. And they walk off with it. Then I have to traipse half way across the store to get ANOTHER one. One time I actually did yell at the person and they were startled beyond words and high tailed it out of there. DON’T TOUCH MY STUFF!!!!!

  • Kovitlac April 8, 2013, 10:22 am

    I’m certainly glad I haven’t run into too many issues like this. We don’t have Trader Joe’s in my area, but are the aisles really that narrow? I tend to shop at your basic Walmart, Hy-Vee or Fareway, where the aisles always seem plenty wide for two people to pass through. Obviously, if someone is right in front of what you’re interesting in viewing, you’ll have to wait, but even then I’ve never come across most of the behavior listed above.

  • Lauren April 8, 2013, 10:27 am

    Bad behavior: I got stuck in a photo opp once at Whole Foods outside of Boston. Two parents who had their toddler in the cart decided that it was a great idea to block the entire produce section while they took pictures of their kid holding various fruits and vegetables. This took place at 5:30 pm on a weeknight – when working people are generally rushing around getting dinner.

    Worse behavior: A grandmotherly lady angrily berated anyone who said anything to the clueless couple. She even helped out by taking a few shots for them.

    People like that stress me out.

  • lakey April 8, 2013, 10:36 am

    I was in a local grocery store when there was this group of 5 people clogging the aisle and chatting with each other. One of the women looked up, remarked, “We’re blocking the aisle.” They all just went on with their conversation. Not one of them had the courtesy to move, including the woman who noticed they were blocking the aisle. I turned around and went back out of that aisle, down the next one, and came up the other end to get to the groceries, because I was afraid I was too angry to ask them to move politely.

  • MichelleP April 8, 2013, 10:38 am

    OP, you. are. AWESOME!
    Thank you so much for posting this! I detest it when people do these things in stores! But if you get ugly or say something, they either have no clue and look at you like you’re crazy, or if they do know better they get defensive and then you’ve caused a scene. And you never know who has a gun.

    Just out of curiosity, I’ve heard of Trader Joe’s but there are none in my area. What’s special about that store that people take field trips to it?

    LOVE the site and this post!!

    • admin April 8, 2013, 11:08 am

      I go to TJ for the organic food at lower prices.

  • MichelleP April 8, 2013, 10:44 am

    Just a few days ago I was in line at a dollar store. There was a young lady behind me with only one item. I told her to go ahead of me since I had several. She checked out her item and then said to the cashier that she needed a bag of ice. They got it. (Locked freezer outside) Then she didn’t have enough money to pay for the items. It was only a few cents so I said I would pay it. Nope, she has to run outside to get it. I look at the cashier and say, “No good deed goes unpunished.” She laughed and nodded. Girl comes back in. She doesn’t have the change and tells the cashier to “just take the ice off.” The cashier calls the supervisor to come take it off since it requires a manager’s code. At that point I begged the girl to please take my change to cover it and thankfully she agreed. To be fair, the girl said “now I’m holding you up” in an apologetic tone. I said it was fine and just please take it. Good grief.

  • Yarnspinner April 8, 2013, 10:49 am

    On Palm Sunday I stopped in at Trader Joe’s. As noted in the OP they have interesting food, lower prices and are usually full of produce you can’t find elsewhere. Sometimes they are their own worst enemy when it comes to customer service, particularly on Palm Sunday. They decided an Easter Egg Hunt would be a fun promotion.

    Parents arrived with their children anywhere between ten to forty minutes early. The kids were underfoot everywhere while Mom and Dad sampled foods and blocked aisles to socialize. Like many other people in the store, I was walking rather gingerly so as not to tread on kids. Children held running contests, dived in front of other customers to paw over food as if they were playing musical instruments and dashed their child sized carts into the backs of adult legs with nary a word from Mom and Dad.

    Then the easter egg hunt started.

    Eggs were hidden everywhere. Trying to reach for the whole wheat parpadelle? Oops, Johnny just needs to grab that egg you just dislodged. Did you want cake? Better let Mary jump ahead of you to grab the egg. There were eggs in the frozen foods, the dry goods, the produce and the dairy. I don’t know about YOU but I don’t really want the carrots after half a dozen little paws have been all over them searching for plastic easter eggs.

    And it went on and on with no end in sight. It seemed as if as soon as an egg had been found, a staff member would replace it.

    I will go back again (but early and definitely not on a holiday) but that day I left with only a portion of my order purchased.

  • Lou April 8, 2013, 10:50 am

    Grrr, supermarkets – they are my bete noire, truly. We recently swapped from a cheaper one to a slightly smaller, less busy and more expensive one purely because, on every trip to the cheap one, I could practically hear my blood pressure rising due to the antics of out-of-control children, screeching babies, and people with absolutely no concept of the existence of other people around them. Like most posters on here I imagine, I could tell stories from now till next Wednesday about the experiences but the one that comes first to mind goes thus:
    I used to buy a pot of fresh soup each week, and one week the flavour I normally got had run out. That particular aisle was relatively quiet, so I decided to browse the shelves and see if anything else appealed. After a few seconds a woman approached, smiling and saying ‘excuse me’ quite politely. I assumed she already knew what she wanted, had spotted it and just needed to grab it, and obviously my trolley was in her way, so I stepped back to let her in. She proceeded to park her trolley exactly where mine had been, pulled out a mobile phone, and started examining all the products on the shelves whilst tapping away at the phone – it looked like she was doing a stock take, despite not being a member of staff. I gave her over a minute (which is a long time to stand staring slackjawed in disbelief) before informing her that I hadn’t quite finished browsing and would she mind moving over a bit. She beamed at me, apologised, and wandered off with her trolley – without picking up anything from that section. I was, and remain, baffled as to what she was up to!

  • Ashley April 8, 2013, 10:51 am

    In my town, grocery stores are THE place to run into people you haven’t seen in a while then spend ages chatting in the aisles. I hate it. Seriously, you can’t make it through an entire shopping trip without seeing at least three clusters of people and their shopping carts TRYING to be out of the way, but failing miserably as they stand there and chat. Meanwhile, I feel bad if I block any part of an aisle for more than 30 seconds and move as quickly as possible. Thankfully my fiance and I have a system where if we need two things that are close to each other, I take the cart and get one, he runs and grabs the other, and then there’s one less thing that I am blocking.

  • Lerah99 April 8, 2013, 10:59 am

    I understand making a quick call home along the lines of:
    – “I’m at the store and can’t remember if we need pickles. Could you check the pantry?”
    – “None of the baby spinich looks great today. Would the spring mix be ok instead?”
    – “The ground chuck was on sale so it is all gone. Do you want me to get the lean ground beef instead or just skip it this time?”

    What drives me crazy is the person stopped in front of staples (like the milk & eggs) while having a conversation that has nothing to do with groceries:
    “No, I don’t have any plans on Friday…. Did you hear about Tammy’s little girl?… Work is so crazy… blah blah blah blah blah…”

    Three weeks ago I couldn’t get to the eggs because of a woman gossiping on her phone while she and her cart were parked in front of the entire section.

    I finally caught her eye and said “Excuse me. May I get to the eggs?”

    She put her phone against her shoulder and yelled “Don’t you see I’m on the phone? It’s rude to interrupt people! God!” then she wandered down the aisle while she continued to complain to the person on the other end of the phone conversation about how rude some people are.

    All I could think was “She’s right. Some people are really rude.”

  • KJ April 8, 2013, 11:01 am

    Only at the grocery store can you find so many people who think they are the only person there.

  • Dawn April 8, 2013, 11:07 am

    Let us not forget the people who ditch their carts in the parking lot, blocking parking spots. Usually its pretty close to a “cart corral” too. Drives me nuts!

  • Princess Buttercup April 8, 2013, 11:08 am

    I, whenever possible, will drive the 40 minutes to my old hometown to shop because there are much better manners there than where I currently live and shop. Not just the customers but employees also. Stores near me now, the employees will stand around and ignore you, in my old town they are friendly and volunteer to help you.

    My top peeves are, 1) people who don’t “drive” on the right. We are in America, we drive on the right. If everyone kept to the right then there would be space to get through and in some stores space to pass between the two going opposite directions. It’s really not a complicated concept. You manage it on the roads, right?
    2) Leaving your cart. Ever, anywhere. It’s common to see people walk down the main aisle, stop their cart in the walkway and disappear down a side aisle for a long time, leaving the main aisle blocked for everyone else. Even worse is leaving your cart and wondering off while your kid is held capture in your cart. One it upsets the child to realize their parent trapped them then abandoned them. Two if a kidnapper comes along you might as well have wrapped your kid in a bow for them, you have made it so easy it’s like you’re giving them a gift.

  • ferretrick April 8, 2013, 11:11 am

    I loathe Trader Joe’s for exactly the same reason, but I didn’t realize it was a trademark of the chain, not just the extraordinarily poor location choice and layout at the one in my city. The parking lot is horrible too.

    How about the etiquette of the way the store treats it’s customers? Sam’s Club is high up on my list of stores I absolutely will only go to if they have an EXTRAORIDANARY special because I find the way they treat their customers appalling. Having to pay for a “membership” to give them business galls me to begin with; having to show my card that proves I have paid for the privilege on entry every time is worse, but the ultimate insult is having to stand in line to show my receipt at the door as the guard checks over every item in my cart. Catching one or two shop lifters is not worth insulting every one of your customers by treating them as thieves.

  • Anonymous April 8, 2013, 11:17 am

    Since when is Trader Joe’s a field trip destination? What ever happened to taking kids to the park, the zoo, the art gallery, the museum, the theatre, the forest for a nature walk, or the rec centre for ice skating or swimming lessons? I remember going to all of those places on field trips in school when I was a kid, but never to the grocery store–except one time in grade seven, but we didn’t actually go inside; we went to sing Christmas carols either outside the store, or in the foyer area. Also, it wasn’t a Trader Joe’s, it was a regular big-box store, so we weren’t in anyone’s way. But, I guess what I’m trying to say is, it seems kind of rude on the teachers’ part to take a class full of kids to a grocery store on a field trip to learn about money, budgeting, cooking, nutrition, etc., if they’re not planning on buying anything. Even if they are buying, I still think it’s rude to walk with all the students through the store as a big group, instead of dividing the class into smaller groups, supervised by extra adult chaperones if necessary, as would be the case for younger or developmentally delayed students. In this case, we don’t know if the field trip group bought anything, so the rudeness here seems to be the combination of taking a big group to a small store like Trader Joe’s, and not making any attempt to break up the group in order to avoid obstructing traffic in the store. I know it’s also rude to talk on cell phones and obstruct aisles with carts, etc., in the grocery store, but I think the field trip was the rudest example in the OP’s story, because it was premeditated, and because a class of 30 students is going to cause more of a disturbance than one person blocking the freezer aisle for a few minutes.

  • Calli Arcale April 8, 2013, 11:17 am

    This is why I greatly prefer to do my grocery shopping on alternate Fridays. I get alternate Fridays off work, so I drop the kids off at school, then go straight to the grocery store. Hardly anyone goes grocery shopping at 8AM on a Friday, and those who do are generally neither in a rush nor there for socializing. It’s much more relaxed. The absolute worst time to go is on Saturday or Sunday afternoon, when everybody else and their cousin seems to be there, although after work can be a close second, since folks at that time of day are often harried, rushing to get their groceries and get home, and tired enough that they start to make mistakes.

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