I think there should be some sort of grocery store etiquette guide.
Let’s think about this: lots of people (who are all probably really hungry-which can bring out monsters in people, let’s be honest) pushing around wheeling metal carts (potential weapons) with small, narrow aisles, lots of decisions to make, and a probable desire not to be in the grocery store to begin with. Now, I don’t mind going to the grocery store (as long as it’s 8 am on a Saturday morning or in the middle of some intense/super important televised sporting event), but I would bet many people are just thinking of the next place they have to be after buying their groceries. Or mostly about what they are going to be eating later. Or which one is parsley and which one is cilantro.
I almost whipped my camera out the other day in the middle of one of these semi-frustrating trips to my local Whole Foods, but then I realized I would be contributing to the problem (if I wasn’t self-aware enough to realize that maybe I already was in some way). It was a random, empty cart-left by its owner (over-zealous about the tomatoes three bins over), who had left it, completely stranded in the middle of the produce section. Now, when you are in a grocery store (especially one in the middle of a city), space is tight. There are no mini-carts at my Whole Foods (which would be an incredible addition…I mean, seriously, does anyone have enough money to buy the groceries that would actually fill a whole cart? And, the whole concept of a Whole Foods, in my own opinion, is one of small, multiple trips to buy fresh produce that would go bad if you make a trip every two weeks or so, right? Am I wrong here? I will admit that they do have the little roll ones that look like carry-on luggage, but I don’t trust myself with dragging anything behind me with eggs on it and hard floors, knowing my tendency to trip) Anyways, I digress. The point is that this particular person wasn’t even paying attention to the people walking behind her (myself included…big metal cart and all), and just ditched her lonely cart-stopping up traffic and forcing the rest of us to jam up behind her and re-route past the dreaded middle bin where they place things like olive oil and basil at knee level on end displays where inevitably someone’s cart will knock everything over (like mine.)
I hope you are catching my sarcasm here. This is seriously, in the grand scheme of life, not a big deal at all. I just think this is a comical observation and thought my foodie friends might have had similar experiences.
So you leave produce and head on over to the aisles where the threat of claustrophobia sets in a little. And there he/she is: the phone talker. And I am not talking like, “Hi honey. Do we need any coffee? What about bread-are we ok? I forgot to check.” No, I’m talking about the person yakking away on their cell phone about their trip last summer to Cape Cod, head tilted over towards their neck to hold the phone in place as they use one hand to steer the cart and the other to absent-mindedly grab at packaged rice. Or, they are using a headpiece and freak you out as they begin randomly talking as you walk past….maybe you even say something in return because you think they are talking to you. The worst type is the one who talks extremely fast but just leisurely (and very slowly) strolls down the aisle because, hey! it’s hard to do two things at once, right?
And then we have the indecisive/extremely decisive, lack of personal space shopper. The one that will stand in front of the yogurts and just stare. Now, there are a lot of choices out there, I know. It can be overwhelming. But, at least compare nutritional facts or something! Pick something up and at least look like you have a reason to be studying it-grams of fiber, maybe? If someone is doing this, a five minute stance at the yogurt area is reasonable-there’s work being done. And, if someone comes up behind you and they can’t really reach the Fage because you are standing in the way/would cause an extremely awkward reach-around situation, just move over to the side a smidge and say, “Excuse me.” It’s the right thing to do. The opposite of this is true, too. Sometimes people don’t hear someone come up behind them. They are too focused on the yogurt. But a rude, within three centimeters of someone’s body parts grab for the Fage with a simultaneous roll of the eyes/sigh can come across as an extremely unexpected and obnoxious gesture. Don’t be either of those people.
And don’t be the person that has to stop at every single station (two or three times) and sample every chip, pretzel, piece of fruit, etc while simultaneously blocking the aisle. The samples are free and delicious. But that’s why they are sample-sized. Just one should do. Leave some for the rest of us. It’s not a buffet.
So where does that leave us? Besides the unforgivable act of going in the fast check-out lane when you have more than 10 items (I counted your basket-you had 18) or leaving your empty cart in your parking space because you are too busy to walk it over three spaces, we are left with the inevitable awkwardness that comes with an extremely extroverted cashier. “Oh, wow. Those barbecue chips look soooo good…is this your first time trying them?” “Have you tried tofu jerky yet?” “Wow, that’s a lot of cheese, there.” “Big plans this weekend (eyeing the bottle of vodka next to the bottle of wine…)?” “I see you are buying chocolate cake..one time I had chocolate cake in Las Vegas where I went to visit my sister’s brother’s uncle’s nephew.” Listen, lady/man/teen, I am already embarrassed about the insane amount of cheese I am planning on eating as soon as I get home, but let’s just keep it between us. I don’t need people in the line next to me looking over just to see how much cheese that chick is buying…holy smokes.
So, in the end, as I am leaving the other day, I am inevitably in front of the cart-abandoning tomato-gawking woman (see above). I’m putting my cart dutifully away in the cart section, when she literally uses most of her body weight in launching her monster cart -in a general direction-near maybe where the carts might be….maybe. I mean, this thing had some momentum, but not enough because it stopped about 10 feet away from the other carts….again…in the middle of the produce section. She immediately headed down the escalators, chatting with a friend, not even looking to see where the cart ended up (into my hip, actually, thanks.) Feeling defeated and a little like a punished child, I sighed and rolled her cart where it belonged….knowing immediately that it was time to write my grocery store etiquette post without feeling guilty.
***As a sidenote, none of this is particular to Whole Foods. I love Whole Foods (especially the cheese, as I have mentioned ad nauseum as well as their delicious salted chocolate caramels which are like crack and are kept on my coffee table within arm’s reach instead of in the pantry where they would be out of sight/out of mind.) I’ve lived in a lot of places and shopped at a lot of places, and this type of thing happens everywhere. Or, maybe it just happens to me because I notice it more. Who knows?
Anyways, this Pineapple-Mango-Avocado Salsa is pretty awesome. I was, actually, inspired by the pineapple mango salsa I sampled at the Whole Foods in Carmel, Indiana, a few months ago. It was sweet but spicy and a little bit crunchy. What’s not to love? And it is pretty much up to you how to make this-add in what you like, subtract what you don’t, and, always always, adjust it to your own tastes. It’s a nice diversion from the standard tomato-based version.
1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, and diced
1 mango, seeded and flesh diced
1 Roma tomato, seeded and diced
1/3 cup red onion, diced
1 cup chopped pineapple
1 kiwi, chopped
1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Grated zest and juice of one lime
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. In a medium bowl, mix all of the ingredients, tossing gently to combine.
2. Cover and chill until serving time…or serve immediately.
Source: A Curvy Carrot original