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They say you should never go grocery shopping when you're hungry, because your hunger will drive you to buy every food item you see no matter how strange or exotic it may be. After shopping hungry you get home and start unloading your bags and discover that you've bought some of the most bizarre food items you've ever heard of, and you'll stand there in your kitchen scratching your head and wondering what ever possessed you. Your hunger is what possessed you.
Using the same argument, I guess, you could also say that you should never go grocery shopping when you're getting ready to write a column because you'll want to write about every annoying thing you come across.
I say this because just before I sat down here at Storyteller Central to pound out my latest column I stopped at a local supermarket for a few simple items. While driving to the store and parking my car I was rolling over in my head some column ideas, but as soon as I stepped out of my car and began looking around for a shopping cart to help me transport some returnable bottles and cans into the store I started thinking about how annoying the whole grocery shopping experience had become.
I'm not blaming these initial negative conditions on the supermarket people because I don't think they were directly responsible for some of the experiences. For example, ever notice how when you're in a grocery store parking lot and you're NOT looking for a shopping cart they're all over the place, blocking several choice parking spaces? But the time you're looking for a shopping cart to help you tote bottles and cans into the store there's not a cart around for miles. Oh, no.
I finally located a cart a few hundred feet away and loaded my bottles and cans and headed for the store. Once inside at the six returnable bottle machines I was greeted by a man and woman with several large plastic bags that looked like they contained a year or two worth of empties. Between them they were working all six machines. Rather than wait a day or two for them to finish I just set my bags on top of theirs and proceeded on to the next shopping experience.
Maybe it was just the mood I was in but the music coming over the store's speakers was particularly annoying on this occasion. I know you're not supposed to really enjoy the music played on grocery store speakers, but the music I heard on this occasion could drive some people to do something they might regret. The music was so bad that it made me more aware of it than normal, which also annoyed me.
Annoyance over the music was soon replaced by annoyance over not being able to find a particular type of cheese I wanted. I found some cheese, but I've learned that stores these days don't like to have all their cheese together in one convenient location so you can shop for the specific one you want. Stores today like to scatter items like cheese all over the store so you wander hopelessly wasting time looking for the particular type. I finally gave up looking and decided to stop at the small convenience store near my home to get my cheese. My decision to leave meant I wouldn't have to face all the people with way more than 14 items each standing in line at the “express” lane.
By the time I got to my car I was so hungry that I decided to go to a restaurant for something to eat. I was in no condition to go near another food store.
John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly
throughout New England. John’s e-mail address is
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