Miss Jeanne, Grocery Shopper Etiquette Expert To The World

by admin on April 8, 2013

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… read them below or add one }

abf April 8, 2013 at 11:17 am

This is so funny. My friends and I were just talking about the perils of grocery shopping this weekend. Several of them discussed the same problems mentioned here. I shared with them that one of biggest problems I have is that it always seems I’m going the wrong direction on whichever isle I am on. I try to be courteous and mindful of other shoppers, but I feel like I’m going the wrong way down a one way street. We all laughed and thought it would be great if the isles had lane markings like we have on roads.


Molly April 8, 2013 at 11:23 am

Does anyone else run into sticky situations in the seven items or less aisle? I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been behind someone with an enormous, complicated order, watching customers in the regular line queue up and check out before I get to the register. I think I should just learn to use the regular checkout, no matter how few items I have. Some people seem to interpret the limited item checkout to mean “I’m very very busy and rude, so let’s load my full cart up here.”
Like Ergala, this situation is often where the “line racers” come up. A new register will open, I’ll think I finally have my shot at checking out, but instead people who have been waiting a fraction as long as me sprint to the line. I don’t even bother competing.


Laura April 8, 2013 at 11:34 am

A little off topic, but still a story I like to share about Trader Joe’s…because I’m convinced this wouldn’t have happened anywhere else (at least not the other grocery stores I frequent.) I was in there one morning with my son, who was about 5 at the time. We had had a ROUGH morning…he was driving me to the point of tears. Anyone who has ever cared for a child will know what I’m talking about. I had to go to Trader Joe’s to pick up something that I couldn’t get anywhere else, and it was a little out of my way, and I was really frazzled. The cashier, a young man in his early 20s, must have picked up on the kind of day I was having, (not to worry, I was not in any way rude to him, but I was obviously on the verge of tears) because he left the register for a minute and came back with a bunch of fresh flowers for me! He said, “I can see you’re having a bad day, so I thought these flowers might cheer you up.” I will never forget that young man. That someone actually CARED enough to do something like that for a complete stranger completely turned my day around.


WildIrishRose April 8, 2013 at 11:37 am

@Hanna: I can go you one better than that. I once returned to my car after finishing my shopping, to find that some bonehead in an extended-cab pickup truck had parked at an angle on my driver’s side such that he had my entire car blocked–his back end literally blocked the back end of my car so that I couldn’t even get to the driver’s-side door! It was a busy time at the store so short of taking down the license plate number, going into the store, and asking someone to page this idiot, my only choice was to stand around and wait for the owner of the truck to come out. I stood there for at least twenty minutes. When he finally came out, he put a couple of bags of stuff into the back of the truck, saw me standing there (right behind his truck so he HAD to notice me or run me over), and he looked at me and said, “Oh, am I blocking you?” I smiled and told him to come look. I refused to move until he came over and saw how he had parked and blocked me in. He apologized and I hope that since then, he has been more aware of how he parked that gargantuan vehicle of his. Sheesh.


arrow April 8, 2013 at 11:51 am

I often park my cart on one side of an aisle to look at things on the opposite side of an aisle–but I always, ALWAYS let others go around me first. How else am I to take in the full range of nearly identical cans of various tomato products, for instance, to find the right one I need–there’s diced, pureed, and whole, and there’s regular, low-salt, no-salt, and spices added varieties for each, and that’s just in the store brand.

I think part of the problem of supermarket etiquette is that there is a definite clash in cultures–there are browsers (slower) and there are list shoppers (faster). List shoppers go to exactly the thing they need and get it, and often feel like browsers are blocking the aisle. Browsers like to go slowly down each aisle and see what’s new and can feel like you’ve ‘cut in line’ if you jump ahead of them to get the one item you need in the aisle. I don’t think either group is necessarily doing something wrong, and I’ve been on both sides of the divide. I think most of the people in this message board have found the right tactic–if browsing, go at a slow time, and leave the post-work rush hours and first of the month (welfare check days) to the other shoppers.


EKM April 8, 2013 at 11:51 am

Here’s a special one..

My mother had a medical condition some years ago that resulted in severe hearing loss in her left ear. There’s been slight improvement, mostly when she is on the phone and has the volume all the way up. At the time this happened, though, she had absolutely no hearing in that ear…

Mom went to local grocery chain store for her weekly shopping. Said store offers motorized chairs and baskets for the elderly and/or disabled, and a frequent trend has occurred where highly overweight and obese individuals use these chairs for their shopping. (I’m not trying to be nasty, this is important for the story).

Mom was looking at some canned goods, debating between two different kinds (I think they were canned tomatoes with flavors or seasonings?) Her cart was less than 6 inches from the edge of the shelving unit, and she’d been there maybe a minute with search, find, and debate. Along comes a very obese man in one of those chairs. He can’t fit past her in the aisle without her and her cart being smack up against the edge of the shelves. Apparently, he asks/tells her to move, but she can’t hear him due to her hearing loss (her left ear was turned toward him) and the announcements over the loudspeaker make it otherwise impossible. I should note that folks in our area have never discovered E-hell or learned manners. She finally hears him when she turns back around in time for him to yell “Get the F-Bomb out of my way!” followed by a not nice slur against my mom.

Mom, etiquette-educated as she is, smiled sweetly, and said “I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you. I’m deaf and had to read your lips.”

Said man turned bright red and walked out of the store. Dad and I couldn’t stop laughing when she got home. Not everyone who is standing and considering their options deliberately ignores you when you ask them to move. Some of them have disabilities making it impossible for them to hear!


syrse April 8, 2013 at 12:17 pm

I am amazed that leaving your cart at the register, as well as running back into the store are still happening! Why isn’t the cashier going ‘excuse me miss, you forgot your cart’, and not taking no for an answer? And why isn’t the cashier voiding the transaction (yes, you can do that halfway scanning items) to let the people waiting go first? That’s what I did in those instances. And no, the boss never got mad at me. Because not doing those things would have been rude to the other customers.


Kay L April 8, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Where exactly is one to put one’s cart while perusing the goods?

If I put it on the side that I am trying to look at, I will block what I am trying to see.

And, I can’t stand to the far side of the aisle next to my cart to look at the other side of the aisle because I can’t see things that well. And if I leave my cart farther down the aisle so that I am not right near it, then I can’t move it out of the way if someone needs to see what is behind it.

It was very frustrating to read this story where it seems the OP is living a fantasy in her head where her smiles somehow commnicate her intentions to those around her.

You want me to move my cart? Tell me to move it! Or, start moving it out if the way yourself!

I have a too much on my mind to try and interpret that someone’s smile is supposed to me they want to be where I or my cart is!

And if I am perusing an aisle and you want something that is in front of me and can grab it, then, by all means, do so! The whole point of grocery shopping is to get the groceries not delicately tread a minefield of strangers’ delicate feelngs.

If you have a problem with someone moving or touching your cart, or stepping in front of you briefly to grab something, that is a problem you have to own. Similarly, if you have a problem opening your mouth and communicating what your needs or intentions are, that again is a problem you must own.

The idea that you an glide down the aisle and have instant access to anything you need is a a fantasy.

It’s not where the carts are, or where the people are, or even if they are chatting or on a phone–its how you treat each others.

Don’t expect people to read your mind!


Carrie April 8, 2013 at 12:26 pm

I adore TJ’s prices, selection and quality, but the store itself can be hell on earth. I’m in a big city, so naturally the TJ’s I prefer to frequent attracts a big crowd. I avoid busy weekends and Mondays, and since I work late, I can usually get there after 7 PM and avoid the worst of the after-work crowds.

But I swear, the most oblivious people on the planet shop there! Without fail, someone will abandon their cart in the middle of the frozen food aisle to browse, walk alongside the cart without noticing the people trying to squeeze around them, block the tiny path between the meat and bread without hearing you practically yell “excuse me,” or linger in front of the samples counter without realizing that it’s the only way to avoid cutting the lines and going to the other half of the store. And you can’t forget the people who bury their faces in their iPhones and don’t notice that ten feet of space have opened between them and the person in front of them on line. On just about every trip I make, I need to say “excuse me” more than once to the person gazing blankly at the fruit. I’d love to refer them to this post, but I’m sure they would continue to stare blankly.


Jenn50 April 8, 2013 at 12:35 pm

I wouldn’t order grocery delivery because I prefer to choose my own produce and meat, and decide on my own substitutions. I cannot stand feeling crowded in the store, so I’ve experimented to find a time when the stores are quiet. I’m fortunate enough to have time off during the week, so I go to Walmart after I drop the kids off at school in the morning, around 9:00. It seems that people who work regular 9-5 shifts are at work, and those who don’t, don’t rush to the grocery store first thing in the morning, so the aisles are clear. There are a few other moms with preschool or younger kids, but I’m not bothered by normal kid noises. Years of raising an autistic child has left me so innured to extreme behaviour that my only response to normal baby/child noises and activity is “Gee, I’m glad I’M not the one having to deal with that.” That said, I don’t usually see kids permitted to run around or crash carts into things, and I wouldn’t be tolerant of that.

I DID “break up” with a national grocery store chain in spite of good prices and much better selection because the service was so appalling and it was always so crowded. The staff rearrange displays and stock shelves regardless of how busy the store is, and they block access to shelves while doing so., refusing to move for customers because “I’m in the middle of something here.” I’ve encountered this in every store of this chain I’ve ever been in, so it seems to be part of the corporate culture. Their cheap prices keep the place packed, and they never have more than about six of their 24 registers open, causing long waits. I believe this results in bad behaviour or “reflexive biting” even in those who are normally more polite. I’ve decided I’d rather miss out on some of their unique products than be treated like cattle.


syrse April 8, 2013 at 12:36 pm

Also about the line racers and full carts at the ‘7 items are less’; why, why aren’t the cashiers going ‘sorry sir, that’s more than 7 items, please move to another register’.
In the case of the line racers, there’s a way around that as a cashier: call the one next in line over personally. I do it all the time, and it never fails.
Of course I’m not saying it’s always the cashier’s fault, but I have a very low tolerance for rude behavior at my check out, and will politely but firmly stand my ground.


PHW April 8, 2013 at 12:38 pm

I have been tempted to use the grocery delivery service available in our area. Most of the time, my husband and I will do our best to avoid primetime shopping to avoid the crowds.
A couple of posters have mentioned things about issues with people in line. One of my pet peaves related to what happens when a new register opens. It would be nice if presidence was given to those who have already been waiting for a while, but usually it is a free for all. One time we were in a large line-up of people. Once we reached second from the front, having been in line for what seemed like forever, the opposite cashier opened her register and announced that she could take the next person in line. My husband and I walked around to her side, excusing ourselves past a woman who appeared to be browsing the POP items (candy and magazines). Once we had reached the register, we heard some grumbling behind us. The woman’s friend had joined her and she was complaining that we had budded in line in front of her. I turned to her and told her that the cashier had called over the next people in line and that was us and added a smile. I don’t know if she didn’t think we could hear her or if she didn’t expect a response, but she gave a quick “Oh” and stopped talking, at least until after we left the store.


Ergala April 8, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Me again LOL! I use coupons, I LOVE coupons in fact. However I am not an extreme couponer and I always ask for the coupon policy before I shop for each store. Some stores will not accept coupons you print off at home from a company’s website, others accept competitor coupons….you name it. What I hate is when people don’t do their homework ahead of time and become upset at the cashier because their coupons aren’t going through. There are big signs up at each register stating exceptions usually. So when you present an internet coupon when there is a sign stating “NO INTERNET COUPONS ACCEPTED” it’s quite foolish to argue when it’s rejected. I got a good chuckle though when the people behind me and next to me watched as I presented coupons and knocked my order from $150 down to $75. And my cart was loaded to the top with healthy foods. They asked me how I did it and I said that I ONLY use coupons for stuff we will use and very rarely is it for junk food. The only way I get something we don’t use is if it’s free or near free.

Now my reason for mentioning this is because I have run into the people who feel the need to literally empty a shelf of a sale item while proudly proclaiming “I’m going to pay $2 for ALL of this!”….who on earth needs 25 packages of family sized toilet paper? Yes it’s $5.99 for a package of 12 double rolls that are 3 ply…..but I find it selfish and greedy to empty the shelf of them all so nobody else can get in on the deal. I’ve had coupons where they took off $3.00 from each package but I limited myself to 3 packages (I have a toilet paper hoarding problem I admit it…).

We used to get WIC and it required coupons you used at the register. Well more like vouchers. Each one had to be filled out and you had to get the exact amount on each voucher in order to get it. So if you have 3 vouchers and each one is for 8 oz of cheese, you can’t just get a 24 oz block of cheese. You have to get 3 blocks of 8 oz cheese. People don’t realize this and try to get it all in one lump amount. Doesn’t work that way. If you used the vouchers it was VERY obvious as to what you were doing and people would feel the need to make comments behind you about you being on WIC. These people obviously knew nothing about the program because if they did they’d know that the income limits for it is extremely high. So a family of 4 who makes $40K a year is eligible for WIC. My husband was getting hypo-allergenic formula for our oldest which was doctor prescribed and was $25 a can. It was the reason we went onto WIC in the first place. The ladies behind him were making comments about how bad formula was and how the mother is probably too lazy to really try breastfeeding. My husband had enough and whipped around and said “Actually my son’s mother died during childbirth”….the cashier knew us and apparently fought back the urge to laugh. Those ladies shut right up faaaaaast. Yes he was wrong but I can’t blame him. NOSEY NOSEY NOSEY!


Amanda H. April 8, 2013 at 12:55 pm

I must be lucky. I haven’t really yet run into a situation as a shopper that a good “Excuse me” hasn’t fixed. I’ve been there on the cashier’s side of things, though. From working the express lane and having someone with an overflowing cart show up, to having customers get into arguments over who should’ve have been first in a new line or who cut in front of who, to customers leaving their empty carts blocking the whole checkout lane as they walk off with their two bags.

@Cassandra: crowding out is one reason why I stand in front of my cart when I’m loading the belt with my purchases. The cart blocks the rest of the space so the person behind me can’t get to the belt to load their stuff right away, plus it keeps them from blocking the register when the cashier is trying to hand me my receipt. It also gives me easier access to take out the groceries and put the bags back in. Regardless, yes, my children are definitely learning personal space when it comes to shopping.

@Hanna: I’d probably cut the elderly man at least some slack for loading groceries into his passenger seats instead of the trunk. Our vehicle’s hatchback door handle broke about four months ago, making it impossible to get to the cargo area of our jeep until we finally got it fixed last week. For the duration of those four months, I had to load our groceries into the passenger seats of my car. Additionally, if the gentleman was elderly, maybe it was easier for him to get his purchases out of the passenger seats than the trunk?

That’s about where the leeway ends, though. Regardless of reasons for using the trunk, he should’ve realized when he was blocking you off and let you into your car and let you pull out before continuing (though it does sound like you let him know as quickly as you could, so there’s that at least). This is why when our door was busted, I would park with my passenger side next to a cart corral or an otherwise marked off area (median, cart crossing, whatever) so there wouldn’t be any car on that side. That way I could take my time loading my bags into the car and not have to worry about blocking someone’s driver door.


JeseC April 8, 2013 at 1:13 pm

And I’d be willing to bet that the exact same rude people would be up in arms if someone else dared to get in their way! (Says the person who got yelled at not long ago for…looking at prices when someone else wanted to get something.)


Huh April 8, 2013 at 1:17 pm

@Ergula “I’ve actually had people take stuff out of my cart too.” Wow. I can’t believe anyone would be nervy enough to take something out of someone’s cart, just so they don’t have to go find it themselves!

The rudest thing that’s ever happened to me at a grocery store (aside from the guy trying to pick me up in the produce department by making a big deal out of How BIG the cucumbers were -gag) was being pushed out of the way by someone’s 3 to 4-year-old child who wanted to push the buttons on the credit card machine – while I was still checking out! I yelled, “Hey!” and looked back at the mom, who was behind me, who just stared blankly at me. I was completing the transaction and paying cash luckily, so my transaction didn’t get screwed up. I admit I was passive-aggressive and said loudly to the clerk, “Thank God my kids aren’t little brats” and took my stuff and left.


Goldie April 8, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Sharon – no, you are not a terrible person! I ran into this problem (not literally, thank God) the one time I went to Trader Joe’s on a Saturday morning, instead of on a weekday evening like I normally do. Not only was the store packed as usual, but every other shopper was a preschooler with a toy-sized cart! TJ is a small store, the aisles are narrow. There’s no way for me to tell, as I’m turning around a corner (pushing my cart in front of me), if there’s a small child right behind it. Scary!! The whole store was an accident waiting to happen, I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

Calli Arcale – I, too, try to do my shopping during off-peak times. Weeknights usually work for me at most places (with the caveat that, by the time I get to a store like Trader Joes, some of the things I needed to buy are sold out.) Even better, our local discount-food store has recently changed their opening time from 8 AM to 7 AM. It’s like Christmas come early. Now I can do my shopping before I leave for work! I used to avoid this store because of insanely long lines, even though their prices are amazingly good… not anymore!

Siamesecat2965 – I was puzzled when I first read your post about people keeping their carts parallel to the freezer aisles that they’re walking through, because like I said, Trader Joe’s is a small place with narrow aisles and there’s really no way to leave your cart somewhere else “out of the way”. If you leave it somewhere else, aren’t you just blocking a different aisle with your cart anyway? only difference being that you’re not anywhere near your cart and people cannot ask you to move it out of their way if they need you to. I was even more puzzled after I re-read the OP’s letter, since it appears that this is exactly what she was doing, keeping her cart parallel to the freezer. FWIW, when at Trader Joe’s, I try to use a basket whenever I can. But in general, there’s just not enough space. No matter how hard you try, a cart will always be in somebody’s way.


gail April 8, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Kovitlac, you must live in the Midwest, as do I. I don’t run into the majority of these problems either. Sure, people can be rude in Iowa, but never to this degree. Once in a while someone will cut ahead at the meat counter at Fareway, but not very often.


Sansa April 8, 2013 at 1:48 pm

I generally go to the grocery store early on Saturday. As another poster mentioned, most people do not like to get up early on Saturdays so it’s less choatic.

However, about 2 years ago, I was in the store early as usual and saw a few familiar faces that also do early shopping. (Don’t know their names, just recognized the faces as their was a group of about 10 who shopped at this time.) I turned onto cereal aisle and down toward the other end, there was this couple having a shoving match, and their child was sitting in the baby seat watching the whole thing! I sort of froze about a 1/3 of the way down. I wanted to say something but I honestly was afraid. They had not hit each other with a closed fist but were just shouting and shoving each other. Then the guy turned and started stalking down towards where I was, so I turned to look and see if I could wheel around and take off in the other direction. Behind me there were 4 of the other regulars, standing stock still, looking scared, just as I had been. I sort of relaxed, then thinking surely he would not do anything with all of us standing there. He got close to where I was and he started shouting what?, what? and doing that gesture where they beat their chest and then throw their hand out in the air in front of them. I said not a word and just scooted as close to the shelves as I could. He eventually left, after shouting the same thing to the others behind me and then turning to shout at the woman he had been fighting with.

I don’t usually run into much chit-chatting, aisle blocking and cell phone use when I am shopping. If I do have an occasion to go during busy times, I usually say excuse me or something to get around that type of thing.

One thing that really makes me mad are the ones who talk on their cell phones while they are being checked out and do not even get off the phone to pay! That is so rude to the cashier! I don’t particularly care to hear about their weekend plans or who is sleeping with who, either.


Victoria April 8, 2013 at 2:09 pm

I was at one of the dollar stores a few months ago. I had run in to grab a pack of paper towels and I guess I just hit the busy time. They only have 2 registers and both were running and people were backing up into the aisle.

There was this obnoxious woman and her teenage daughter in front of me. I’m sure you know the kind- talk extremely loud, laugh even louder at crude jokes and are constantly texting or calling someone on their phones. Finally, they are the putting their items on the counter to ring out and they suddenly realize they know the cashier and haven’t seen her in awhile. The mom called her husband or boyfriend, while the cashier was ringing them up and said you will never guess who I just ran into, yada, yada. Then the daughter got the phone with the man, then handed the phone back over to mom who chatted for a minute and then the mom handed the phone to the cashier, who proceeded to start chatting to whoever was on the phone!!

Everyone was exaperated and this made them, including me, just plain mad. This trio of gabbers had been holding up the line for a good 5-10 minutes talking and then for the cashier to get on the phone while the line was backed up at least 10 people deep!! I was gritting my teeth trying not to say something. Finally, a man about 3 people back lost it. He started screaming at the cashier to get off the phone and get the line moving. All 3 just gaped at him, but I guess they got the point because the cashier got off the phone and the daughter grabbed the bags and ran out the door while mom settled up.

I called the store the next day and complained. I guess the cashier got in trouble or fired because I never saw her there again. I did not intend to get her fired; I was hoping they would talk to her about holding up the line gabbing on a customer’s cell while you had other customers waiting.


Mamabulldog April 8, 2013 at 2:20 pm

I have the same problems in the aisles at Trader Joe’s. They are just so darn narrow and if you have any type of crowd, forget about being able to look for anything. I don’t know why they haven’t picked up on this yet and made changes. Drives me crazy!!!


Katia April 8, 2013 at 2:35 pm

It’s Trader Joe’s — you treat it like a battlefield.


just4kicks April 8, 2013 at 2:38 pm

Recently my daughter and I went to our local grocery store and almost filled our cart with what we needed. We proceeded to the one of the only three lanes that were open and unloaded our stuff. I then notice an elderly lady behind us with maybe six or seven items, muttering to herself. We hadn’t yet begun to be checked out, so I smiled and said “Ma’am, since you only have a few items, you are welcome to cut in front of us and go first.” The lady looked me up and down and said, “Goddamn RIGHT I get to go before you! Look at all that crap you’re buying! I’ll be waiting forever!!!!” Then she marched right up and put her groceries in front of ours without so much as a thank you. I was furious and dumbstruck. As was the cashier. My daughter, bless her heart, turned to me and said “Wow, mommy, we were being nice to that lady and she didn’t even say thank you to us!” That made the cashier laugh, and she said to my daughter, that we still did a nice thing, even if wasn’t appreciated.


Stacey Frith-Smith April 8, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Wonder if all shoppers haven’t thought the following or some version of it: 1. This store is shared with many people. As with anywhere that is crowded, patience and courtesy are needed. 2. Kids, the elderly, special needs, disabled, and anyone else have as much right to be here as you do, so be patient. 3. Speak up for yourself- if someone is in your way, “excuse me” is much faster than a long wait while your temper does a slow burn. Even “I need you to move please, I’m blocked in (can’t get to my car, your cart is on my foot, I need room to unload my cart)” is acceptable. 4. Until you are in a system that queue’s up at one point, there will be line-jumping. Let it go unless it’s directly in front of you. 5. Your need for speed (fast OR slow) doesn’t mandate the same pace for others. 7 If they don’t share your last name and your home, avoid trying to compel good manners. 8. Saving places…in line, in the parking lot, in front of a service counter…is very bad form. Social ostracism may apply. 9. Vote with your dollars. If the layout is bad, the service is bad, the management is bad, the parking is bad or the other customers just give you a tension headache…other vendors will be happy to have your patronage.


Wren April 8, 2013 at 3:00 pm

“Pardon me, would you mind if I move your cart a bit so I can get by?” Or reach the canned peaches, or open the door to the frozen peas, or lift a bag of flour. Then I say thank you. It has worked well.


AS April 8, 2013 at 3:05 pm

@Laura – that was a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing. I am sure you suddenly found more energy to tolerate your son’s tantrums after that.
If you noted his name, you should send a letter / card to the management saying how nice he was (unless you have already done so), and how nice his simple gesture made you like Trader’s Joe even more. Encouraging nice gestures go a long way.


Library Diva April 8, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Ah, the grocery store, the seventh ring of hell and the most irritating place on the face of the Earth. I despise the trend of making the aisles smaller to cram more stuff into the same square footage so there’s no possible way to be out of everyone’s way.

One time, I went to the grocery store and there was a craft beer distributor there handing out free samples. You got a shot-glass size plastic cup of their beer, not enough to get anyone drunk, but somehow it made shopping so much better. I told him that I wished he was there every day.


NostalgicGal April 8, 2013 at 3:11 pm

If I have to do cellphone I will pull to the endcap as there is usually more room. If you meet someone going the other way you absolutely have to talk to, take it out of the middle of that aisle as you have totally blocked it now…

Oh I could go on and on about shopping in general. Usually when I hit the store, I have a list in mind and go the flow pattern so as not to cause clogs. The ones that are perilous are those with little bored kids causing commotions and more… and want to ride the outside of the cart. Blessed are those places that have push carts with a small attachment to stick your little ones into…

I have powershopped a Super (big box store) with groceries on the one side, and came to register with two loaded carts and left with three once bagged in an hour ten, then spent less than 10 min loading car and departing. ‘Excuse me please’ said NICELY does a lot on getting through… and there are times I will put that cart at an endcap of something not highly desired and walk through the aisle to get the item or two I need.

Abandoning a cart half empty to get one more item while on register is a crime where they should have to do cart duty during the next snowstorm for the store… or a good pouring deluge.

Those that are way over on an express checkout need to have the clerk fault out and have her register shut down during their order. (nastiest civil I can think of). The counter to this is a store I frequent with one long register (where you have a belt to unload) and three ‘kiosky’ types where you step up to the register like a convenience store. I’m sorry but only having the small ones open is a difficult juggling mess when you have a full cart and the manager needs to open the belt one to really get things sorted… so they’ve forced me to have to go kiosk, I had to get another cart to keep bagged and unchecked separate, and now they open the big belt for six people with two items as I’m halfways through. After over a year they’d finally clued with many complaints (not just me) that they need to have that one as the default open… (putting the cordless house phone base out so one can hit the button to page the handset) on that register so someone unloads and waits, they show up and go oh that one’s not open… and three others behind that person step over to the open kiosk in front of the one that’s waited the longest and now has to reload and move…they finally got the clue)


Bint April 8, 2013 at 3:29 pm

I’m with Weird. If people are blocking the way, *say “Excuse me”* and if they don’t move, repeat it. It’s not rocket science. In my supermarket you have to do it all the time to get anywhere and everyone just says, “Oh, sorry,” and shoves over.

However, extra peeve: people who yap yap yap to the cashier, packing up slowly, taking ages to get their card out, yapping again when the cashier’s given them their receipt. Get a move on. I remember one man doing this, then glaring at the line snarling, “Everyone’s in too much of a rush these days!” No, mate, everyone just has more interesting things to do than hang about waiting at a supermarket till while you chat.


NostalgicGal April 8, 2013 at 3:33 pm

One aisle blocker, I was at a pet store warehousey thing and the building was cinderblock and structural steel, and cellphones don’t work in there very well if at all. I am in there to shop and a fellow pulls up and stops right in front of me as I am looking for something in a section, and gets on his phone and is literally screaming into it. He also has an adorable roughly 10 month gold lab. I can’t reach what I want so I stop to admire and pet his dog.

He starts berating me for interrupting him, and this call of his to his cousin is so bleeping important and he finally got a connection… and get away from his dog.

I ask him politely to move so I can get something. All he can reply with is trying to scream into the phone, telling me to get lost and get away from his dog. Who wants to come to me as I was being nice. Yes I’m in ehell because I don’t move.

Any information he’s trying to get conveyed over that phone call isn’t happening anyways, and he loses the connection. I know there are clerks at both ends of the aisle now as he’s been drowning out the canned PA… and he starts a rant on me for this so called important phone call that I messed up because I wouldn’t get away from his dog. Who wants to come to me and I am on other side of aisle.
He pulls on his cart, as he planted both hands on it as he is raging over his phonecall being messed up. He takes a step back to keep up with the cart and the dog. I step forward as I can now reach what I wanted and I take what he was squarely blocking and I’d asked him if he’d move earlier… I step away from him and put the item in my cart and say “Twenty feet outside the door you can reach the tower just fine.” and I hold up my phone as I say that. I push off then to finish my shopping and pass the the employee that’s at that end of the aisle.

I think the manager made him leave, I didn’t see him anywhere as I exited the store about fifteen minutes later. (days before the Iphone slab revolution but still cells!)


denise April 8, 2013 at 3:50 pm

It seems like there is a lot of intolerance for children in grocery stores. I understand that some parents are oblivious and some kid rude. However I am a mom of four young children. Sometimes I don’t have a choice but to take all four by myself to shop. Thank god for mini shopping carts and the ones with the cars on them. In reality I hate them too. They are big and annoying but they help me get my shopping done. If you don’t like dealing with children helping mommy with the little carts or passing the carts with cars then find a grocery store that isn’t so family friendly. I live in a small town and one of or grocery stores doesn’t offer any extra cart choices for kids.


Yet Another Laura April 8, 2013 at 3:52 pm

I hate grocery shopping! One advantage to working a non-standard work shift is that I can shop when the stores aren’t so crowded. My nemesis is the checkout vulture who stands so close that you can feel them breathing on you. Standing that close is not going to speed up the process.

Several years ago, I was home sick with a fever of 102 and severe sore throat, coughing, and not much of a voice. I ran out of cough syrup and toilet paper and other necessities. So I had to get up and go to the grocery store. In the interests of not spreading my joy around, I grabbed my stuff as fast as possible and used the self-checkout.

Sure enough, a checkout vulture was upon me, crowding up too close while I tried to check out. I stopped, turned around, and asked the vulture to please give me some space.

The vulture said nothing and continued to hover. I explained that I was sick. Still not good enough. Then I started coughing – not on purpose – while I was trying to explain that I didn’t want to spread my germs. The vulture was so close to me that I was coughing in the vulture’s face.

That’s what it takes to get some people to respect personal space.


MGirl April 8, 2013 at 4:01 pm

I love grocery shopping, but the grocery store drives me crazy sometime. I guess it’s because one of my biggest etiquette pet peeves is people who act like they’re oblivious to everyone around them, and how their actions might impact others. The grocery store seems to be *full* of those people: they park their carts in the middle of the aisle when they stop. They leave their cart at one end of the aisle and the proceed to browse up and down that aisle, meaning that no one can read the prices or easily reach whatever food items they’ve parked in front of. They place their carts at weird angles while doing self-checkout so that anyone who wants to use the machine ahead of them has a hard time maneuvering around. The list goes on and on, and I seriously wonder sometimes if otherwise rational people leave their brains at home while grocery shopping.

Also, in my grocery store at least, people seem to like to zoom out of the food aisles and into the central lanes perpendicular to those aisles without looking. You’ll be chugging down those central aisles and all of a sudden a grocery cart will screeching out of a food aisle, narrowly avoiding a collision. I’m of the mind that in those cases, as when you’re driving, people making turns need to yield to those already in the aisle they want to move into. So, when you come to the end of a food aisle, you should stop, look both ways, and then make your turn.


Barbarian April 8, 2013 at 5:06 pm

My grocery store pet peeve is when people slam their carts into the back of my legs or feet.


Saucygirl April 8, 2013 at 7:41 pm

My pet peeve is people who stay at the cashier after they are done, organizing the receipt in their wallet, putting away change, hunting for keys. They stand right in front of the credit card pad, making it impossible for the next person to pay for their purchases. When your turn is done, it’s done. Step away from the register!


Dorothy Bruce April 8, 2013 at 8:36 pm

I have to use an electric cart for my shopping due to hip and back issues. I love shopping at WalMart and Wegmans but I recognize that if I want to be sure to get a cart, I need to get there early in the morning. When I shop, I try to respect the other shoppers on two legs and don’t treat the store like my personal racing course.

Unfortunately, my roommate doesn’t get that, even though she has similar problems.


Miss-E April 8, 2013 at 9:22 pm

So I WORK at Trader Joe’s (and have for 7 years) and I’m just loving all this discussion here.

On the whole, most people are entirely oblivious to everyone around them, they are far too wrapped up in themselves but I share everyone’s frustration (I have to move around all those people to stock the shelves). It makes me feel really good to know I’m not the only one who gets irritated with those kinds of shenanigans!


kingsrings April 8, 2013 at 9:42 pm

Concerning kids in stores, I did once go to a chain store in Oregon that had a play area for kids. The best idea ever! Then the kids are occupied and not bothering their parents during the shopping trip or other shoppers. I don’t know why more stores don’t have them (other than the one I went to and IKEA, which is known for it’s great kid’s area).

You can’t park your cart anywhere in a store where it won’t be bothering others. So the problem is solved simply by politely asking other shoppers to move if they’re in your way. I see nothing wrong with that at all. I agree with Kay.

My biggest pet peeve: when people chat on their cell phones or bluetooths while shopping. If the call is shop-related (like asking what kind of item should be bought), then I understand and think that’s okay. I can’t stand it when people start chatting about personal things that have nothing to do with shopping! Do they not have any shame? Nobody wants to hear about your personal stuff, and are you really so pathetic that you can’t wait until you get home to have that conversation? I will sometimes shoot the caller a look to let them know how annoying they’re being.


Jakester April 8, 2013 at 10:26 pm

Ahh, Bint, how cold and cruel you sound. So some person takes an extra sixty seconds talking to the clerk. You probably haven’t had to live alone and not had anyone to talk to for a couple of days. You have no idea how it much it can ache just wanting to connect with someone, if only for a minute or two. You don’t know how it hurts to realize that the only human you will talk to for the next four days is a disinterested clerk in the grocery store who can’t wait for you to finish up and leave. Have a heart and join this thing we call the human race. Show a little warmth and humanity. Pay it forward, as they say. And remember — your day will come.


Snowy April 8, 2013 at 11:15 pm

I’ve gotten to where I’ll wait for a moment, longer if they’re obviously looking for something, and then say “Excuse me.” If they don’t hear–which is often–I’ll repeat it again, a touch louder. Third time, I say it very politely–but very loudly, as if I don’t know the volume of my own voice.

If they still don’t move, I’ll just say, “Excuse me, you’re blocking the aisle.” Same tone as step #3.

After that I start ramming their cart with mine while yelling, “TOWANDA!!”

…Okay, that last one isn’t true. Probably because it’s never gotten to that point.

Also, while we’re talking about grocery store, I hate it when someone crosses in front of traffic in a parking lot and instead of going straight across, they go at a diagonal. Usually a very slanted one, walking slowly, holding traffic up for everyone. Rude much!


abcd123 April 8, 2013 at 11:32 pm

My absolute pet peeve is people who line up at Express Lane Counters with a full cart. It clearly says in the sign 8 items or less or sometimes 12 items or less. This lane is for people who want to in and out of the store in a couple of minutes if they were just buying a couple of items.

I read a story where there was this lady who encountered a person with a cart full of groceries in the express lane. She said out loud that apparently “some people cannot read”. The person in front her responded and said “I can read”. Then the lady retorted “But obviously you can’t count.”


Snowy April 8, 2013 at 11:38 pm

And on “register racing:” I hate that. With a passion. You can wait 20 minutes in line, and then another lane opens up, and someone who’s been there 30 seconds will dash over. I love it when a cashier will look at the lines, then tap someone on the shoulder and say, “Come to my register, I’m about to open it, and you’re next.” <3

Honestly, I'd like to see the whole country go to megalines–where a single line feeds all the manned registers, maybe with a second line for the 10-items-or-less registers. Next up is next up, period, and no one moves any slower than anyone else. If someone forgets something, or there's a register issue, or if someone has to cash two paychecks and use food stamps to buy their stuff, no one is stuck behind them for 20 minutes. The people waiting still get delayed, but it's spread out evenly so the pain is far less, or even negligible.

Megalines for all. I can only hope.


Cassandra April 9, 2013 at 12:09 am

To the people who hate the child sized carts, if you complain enough they will be taken away! Our local grocery store had them for years ever since I was little, but within the last few years have gotten rid of them all. Parents just weren’t watching their kids with the carts and they were running in to everyone! Many people complained and the store just did away with them. It’s so much nicer shopping there now. I get that its hard to shop with kids (I have 3 of my own!) but if you teach them to behave, you shouldn’t need distractions like the little carts or carts shaped like trucks, etc. My kids are never allowed to use those if we see them in any store and I have no trouble controlling them while I’m doing my shopping.


Kate April 9, 2013 at 3:18 am

This is why I like to shop at unpopular times (like 4pm on a Sunday). Right after work or Saturday morning are terrible.
What annoys me the most is people that are rude to the checkout operators. I truly believe everyone should have to work a customer service job at some point – it might prevent some of the unnecessary rudeness that a lot of people throw at customer service representatives.


Krocki April 9, 2013 at 4:59 am

shoppers of america, count your blessings! i’m always amazed at how considerate and polite most other customers are there (of course there are exceptions) and how efficient the check out people are. i live in israel, and all the above mentioned pet peeves, amplified by 10, are the norm in every grocery store, at any given time of day. people also love to open and sample merchandise, feed their children bags of stuff and later ring up the empty bag (if they are honest people). during the busiest time of day, when you don’t know where to step, they do clean up with these giant loud machines and stack up merchandise- and you better not be in their way, or you are going to get whacked! the cashiers are usually so slow it actually takes some skill. they frequently run out of change, or tax receipts, or pens (!), or bags, or…you get the picture, at which point they will slowly rise from their seat and walk to the main register, chat for a few minutes and come back. plus the yelling and arguing and fighting and screaming of children… hard to paint a picture that does the experience justice, who needs tv when you have a comedy show everytime you need groceries?


abethg April 9, 2013 at 6:12 am

Ha, ha. I live in Manhattan, and in comparison to the other grocery stores, TJ’s aisles are WIDE. It’s one of the reasons I like shopping there. I’m single, live a block away, and have no car, so I refuse to use a shopping cart; a basket makes me much more nimble. OTOH, a woman allegedly struck a teenager blocking her way to the vegetarian entrees at my local TJs, and there was a court case. Frankly, the atmosphere is a lot more fraught at Fairway (not Fareway, Fairway. It’s a local chain), where the aisles are much more narrow and the interesting items could be at your ankles or above your head, and I think the cashiers should get combat pay. I have to brace myself to go there, but I simply can’t live on TJs alone.


Angeldrac April 9, 2013 at 6:15 am

I just want to add something for people to consider.
I have a very inquisitive and quick baby son. I try not to go shopping with him in the pram as it is difficult, but sometimes it’s unavoidable.
IF I stop in an aisle to look at something and pull the pram to the side, my son will, quick as a flash, grab at things on the shelf and most likely knock them to the floor.
IF I park him away from the shelves to keep him from getting into mischief, we end up blocking the aisle.
I just bring this to you good people’s attention so that if you were to ever see someone in my situation, please don’t tut. There’s really no way around it!


The Elf April 9, 2013 at 6:57 am

Re: Moving carts.

I’m usually a list shopper. I’m there to do a chore so I can go home and do something I actually want to do. Even when I browse, I’m a quick decision maker. So, if someone’s cart is in front of what I want – which is inevitable at a grocery store – I will move it. I’ll wait a moment or two first, to see if the person is moving on anyway. Then I’ll ask them to move it first (with a please and a thank you!) but if that elicits no response, or if the cart is unattended anyway, I’ll grab the edge of it and move it as minimally as possible to get to what I need. Or I’ll say “excuse me” as I brush right up against the cart to reach something. It helps that I’m tall, so I can stand at one end or to the side of the cart and bend around to get something. I’ve had people yell at me for doing this, because apparently they own the cart and everything else the cart is blocking. And, no, I’m not going to wait while someone reads every label to figure out what they want. We’re all in this mess together, the best thing we can do is be aware of each other.

The exception is if there is a child in the cart, because that’s just playing with fire. I’ll move on to everything else on my list and come back.


The Elf April 9, 2013 at 7:14 am

Dawn: “Let us not forget the people who ditch their carts in the parking lot, blocking parking spots.”

The #1 reason I won’t go to my local WalMart anymore, right there. The “rogue” shopping carts had gotten so bad, plus the slight hill the lot sits on, means that at a slight gust of wind, the carts go rolling amok. Even my usual technique of parking far, far away from everyone else couldn’t keep it safe. The last straw was when I got to my motorcycle just in time to stop an empty car from striking the side of it. Sorry, I like my car and bike more than I like getting good prices at WalMart.

It’s not difficult to put your cart away when you’re done. I like the deposit system and I wish that would become more popular here.


ferretrick April 9, 2013 at 8:30 am

Another grocery store pet peeve-the automatic checkers are the same as the express line-there for people with small orders who want to get in and out quickly. If you are technologicly challenged and incapable of operating it efficiently, go to the regular line!


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