QUOTE OF THE DAY (OR MORE): "No, no. You don't understand. This is an '89 Calico. I'm pretty sure that exceeds the Kelly Blue Book value. The cat's totaled." --A comedian whose name I forget talking about a vet who presents a $3,000 bill for a 12-year-old cat

Monday, February 9, 2009

Down with homemade mashed potatoes

Okay. I’d just like to start out with one edict: death to all people who make homemade mashed potatoes. Unless it’s Thanksgiving, in which case you should make someone else bring homemade mashed potatoes to your soiree. Seriously. Who has time painstakingly to peel 3 pounds of potatoes, wait for a vat of water to boil, tap your foot 30 minutes until the potatoes are soft, and then mash them? If YOU have time to do that, shouldn’t you be using your time more wisely? Helping the homeless, perhaps? Working for money? Volunteering at your kids’ school? Don’t you have laundry to do? I mean – it doesn’t even take as much time to eat mashed potatoes as other foods. There’s no chewing necessary, for crying out loud. C’mon – have you ever looked at the ingredients on Potato Buds? Potatoes. That’s it. Add water and milk. Ta da! And, beautifully, you haven’t made anyone feel unworthy or guilty.

Now that we have clearly established how utterly and totally wrong it is to make mashed potatoes by actually mashing potatoes, we can discuss the serious point of this article, which is: “grocery shopping can be fun!!”

Or surreal, depending on your experience. Folks, grocery shopping is what you make of it. For starters, it can be good physical exercise. We all know we should park in the back of the lot to increase the number of steps each day; however, if you go at the right time, there are terrific obstacles to navigate in the grocery store. Employees stocking food, for example, occupy, in general, approximately 4/5 of the aisle. To help you during this inconvenience, they typically wear headphones to block out the noise which may mire their concentration while restocking.

Once around the re-stockers, your next challenge is to circumvent small children wandering aimlessly and/or small to mid-size children hanging like appendages from the sides of grocery carts. We’ll not make any judgments about the aimless, wandering children. We are all perfect parents and our children behave angelically in grocery stores, particularly when their sibling is antagonizing them mercilessly. But I digress…

You have to be on your toes going around corners of the aisles at busy times. Why don’t grocery stores have stop and yield signs? Or those little concave (convex?) mirrors they have to help you see what’s (or who’s) coming around the corner. Then we wouldn’t always be saying: “oops. sorry!” and “excuse me…” While we’re on the subject of “excuse me,” what goes on in the minds of the people who leave their cart in the middle of the aisle and then focus ALL of their attention on the elusive item for which they are perusing on the shelf while standing in the space NOT occupied by the cart, thereby making the aisle impassable?

Finally, because the aisles are not small enough, we have corporate America’s marketers to thank for the difficulties encountered in trying to walk a straight line through a grocery store. STOP! Look at me! I’m a new product on a specially designed display case designed to take up most of the space here in the middle of the walkway so you have to slow down and look at me. Take one! Spend!

Our final bit of grocery store exercise is obvious, isn’t it? You have everything on the list except that one little thing you forgot at the opposite end of the grocery store. Just a little hint from above reminding you that you need those extra steps.

So hearty congratulations! You’ve conquered the re-stockers, the small and mid-sized children, the clueless adults, the advertisers, and your own disorganization. Find the smallest line. Go ahead; try it. Weigh and measure carefully now; don’t rush into it. It could make a difference of a couple of minutes, after all. Get in the shortest line. If you don’t seem to be in the shortest line, move. Here you can utilize your mid-sized children as holders. Pay no attention to anyone who laments that that’s not fair. Using small-sized children may be frowned upon, however (excuse ending the sentence in a preposition. Mea culpa). Once you are completely sure that you have searched and found the shortest line, guaranteed to get you out of there as quickly as possible, you have two choices. You can either glance surreptitiously at the Enquirer’s headlines, or you can start a conversation with the friendly person in front of or behind you who also loves to grocery shop. The Enquirer will quickly update you on all the latest important news, but do your best to avoid being seen reading it; don’t actually pick it up, for example. (note: Do NOT text message; you will fall woefully behind on your unloading of the cart with disastrous results!) Today, for example, I couldn’t help but comment on the abundance of loaves of multi-grain bread the lady in front of me was purchasing. Just minutes later I was a complete expert on the parrots she raises who are the benefactors of the bread. Yup, this woman, buoyed by my slight enthusiasm for her parrots, told me everything I wanted to know and more (did I say and more?). It’s amazing what people will tell you in the grocery store line. Stuff you just never wanted to know… just kidding! (not really).

Another important point about choosing your proper and most expeditious grocery store line: get to know the cashiers. Some are fast; some are slow. It’s a fact of life. Some are too loquacious to make good grocery store cashiers – friendly but inefficient. If you’re not 5 minutes late from picking up the kids from school, but rather headed home afterwards to watch your Tivo’d Oprah, by all means talk with the friendly and talkative cashier. If, however, you have 3 million things to do with not enough time in which to do it, go for the speedy check out lady or guy. They also have different bagging styles. Some really analyze the best configuration for your bagged groceries, thereby wasting valuable time. Go through the speed demon’s line – you know the one.

There’s really nothing funny about exiting the store with your cart and loading your trunk (unless something embarrassing rolls out of the bag onto the ground while you’re unloading it… but that’s another story), so go home and enjoy putting all of those groceries away. And if you bought potatoes… don’t you dare mash them.

1 comment:

  1. The musak at our gigantic hypermarket seems, at times, selected by a deranged deli clerk wannabe alt rocker. Last week, it played Shakespeare's Sisters Stay. Do lyrics like "you better hope and pray that you make it safe back to your own world?" encourage additional potato bud purchases? I think not (anti-depressants, maybe). If you want customers to listen to Siobhan sing, wouldn't Bananarama generate more impulse produce buys?


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