Grocery Shopping: Why I need a magic calculator and the patience of a saint

Groceries in transit

Groceries in Transit” by qmnonic via Flickr Lic CC By 2.0

Going to the grocery store is like going to the airport. You know it’s going to be unpleasant and it’s going to challenge you mentally, emotionally and physically.

-The mental challenge: This pack of toilet paper has a million cubic metric inches squared of paper and it’s triple ply with a really cute koala bear. Ooh, but this one is 50 gallons when unrolled and swirled into a 6-foot pyramid. But it’s only double ply. Let me take out the magical calculator I bought at Diagon Alley and do the math here. Screw it. Of course I’m buying the one with the cute koala bear.

Koala toilet paper

Because he looks so super snuggly! (“Lovely koala with Cushelle toilet paper” – SCA by SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget via Flickr Lic CC By 2.0)

-The physical challenge: The other shoppers are there to test your agility. They place their carts, bodies, children, anything they can to stop your forward motion and prevent you from obtaining that pack of gummy worms that you need so badly.

T Rex tomatoes

I guess I should just be happy they’re aren’t  dinosaurs lurking in my store’s produce department. (“T-Rex sighted in the Grocery Store” by katerha via Flickr Lic CC by 2.0)

-The emotional challenge: The checkout line is intended to wear down what remains of your patience.

Of course only one register is open. And there are three people in front of you.

1st person in line – Seriously? You’re going to pay in all pennies?

2nd person in line – Say what? You’re going to buy twenty tubes of toothpaste using twenty separate transactions?

3rd person in line – Of course you have fifteen things in your cart that all need a price check. And now you’ve waited until the clerk tells you your total to start filling out your check. Really? You can’t write the date and sign the check until you know the total??

But what annoys me the most???? The shopping carts. I’ve been working on a very scientific study about shopping carts and how they’re conspiring against me. I’ll have the results for you one day. Right now I have to go to the grocery store. I was so confused by the toilet paper pricing last week, I forgot to buy some. Wish me luck!

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Would you like your receipt?

I remember the days when you could go into a store and order a cup of coffee or buy a pack of gum and the clerk would just hand you a receipt.

But sadly, the world has changed. Now, many establishments offer you a choice, a decision to make. It seems simple enough. It’s a yes or no question.

“Do you want your receipt?”

I don’t know why this is so hard for me. I’m prepared for the paper versus plastic debate. I know whether I’m paying cash or credit. I’m ready to answer “no” when they try to sign me up for their rewards program.

But for some reason I can’t decide if I need that little piece of paper. I stand there, with my mouth hung open, “uh…. yes … no, wait.” I look to the other customers for a signal. What do you guys think? “Um.. No. Hold on. Yes, I want it.”

It’s even worse than the “would you like the receipt with you or in the bag” question. I don’t know. Either hand it to me or stuff it in the bag. I really don’t care. And maybe that’s why I have such a problem with the question. I guess I really don’t care. It’s usually asked by a fast food type restaurant and I know I’m not planning to return the veggie burrito I just scarfed down. Therefore, do I need the receipt? I still don’t know.

So, I make random, haphazard decisions, clearly based on whim. Sometimes, it’s a yes. Sometimes it’s a no. But, I can’t say that I’m comfortable with the decisions I’m making.

See, this is what happens when I say no: I watch as the receipt is ripped from the register, crumpled in the hand of cashier and then tossed into the trash beside them. I stifle a gasp. Fear runs down my spine. What if I really do need that receipt? How will I know they didn’t over charge me? What if there is super-secret information on that receipt that can now be harvested and used against me by the coffee making people?

But then this is what happens when I say yes: Receipts upon receipts pile up around me.

Now, instead of sitting in the trash at the local Starbucks, they’re lingering in my purse.

They take up residence in purses I haven’t used in years.

There’s even more in this purse, than in my current purse.

According to the plethora of receipts, I haven’t used this purse since June, 2011.

Some of them even get to live in this ceramic pot.

I don’t know why some grocery store and coffee receipts are more special than others, but they are. That is why they get crammed in the ceramic pot with the coupons I may or may not use and a birthday card from 3 years ago.

So, I fee like I need a plan, a strategy. Should I answer “yes” across the board? Or give a “no” if it’s less than $10? Less than $20? Maybe a “yes” for all goods from Starbucks, so they can’t harvest that super-secret information about me?

Or, I can just continue what I’m doing.

I don’t know. It’s just too stressful. Retailers, please, just make the decision for me. Just give me the receipt. And don’t you dare ask me if I want it printed or emailed.