We’re starting to notice something in the stores that we’re patronizing. There are crazy people out there. Allow us to explain.
Just a few days ago we were in a grocery store. Not one of the mega marts that has everything from fresh dragon fruit to Lint Lizards. This was a much smaller version that had everything from soup to nuts as long as you didn’t mind the canned variety of either. It’s not unusual in either version’s produce section for people to shake, sniff, thump, or rattle the offerings in search of the freshest of the fresh, or in mid-March to find the least out of season depending on the origin of the well-travelled fruit or vegetable. And at the meat display one will check out the marbling of the well fatted full grown steer.
On our trip to that store on that day we were in search of ground beef. Not much you can tell from ground beef that isn’t on the label – its pre-grinding primal cut, fat content, weight, price, and the date ground, hopefully matching the date to be purchased. Yet there in front of the entire display of ground beef, shopping cart angled to extend across the complete linear footage was a lady carefully examining each package of ground beef. Well, perhaps not each package but several of them, and each of them quite carefully, looking them over as if to determine that the fat content printed on the label wasn’t what her eyes were able to discern. We wanted to say “Move along lady, it’s all from the same cow and whatever you’re making isn’t going to be that fabulous or you’d be up at the other end where the cows are a little more put together. “ But we didn’t and eventually she found one that had the color, size, shape, or fat content of her liking and we snagged ours.
It was on that same trip that He of We decided it was time to spend a couple of dollars on our retirement plan, also known as the Power Ball. So he stopped at the window where some young man was robotically entering the numbers of the daily number players into the state lottery computer and exchanging “Sure Thing” dollars for “Can’t Miss” numbers. The line moved quickly, most of the hopefuls hanging their hopes on the quick pick versions of their numbers du jour. And then there was just one in front of He of We. And that one began with “Gimme Big Four, 1-2-3-4, fifty cents straight, 40 times,” and the young man punch the number in once, hit the quantity for 40 and we waited while the machine printed out 40 identical tickets. “Anything else?” “Yeah, gimme the Daily, 1-2-3, a buck straight, 40 times.” Again we waited for the little machine to gasp out 40 more identical tickets. “Anything else?” And this was when He of We said “No, you’ve reached your limit. Are you trying to make certain that if you should in your wildest fantasy actually hit both of those numbers that by spreading out your 60 dollar wager the IRS won’t figure out you’ve won around $20,000 because you did it 50 cents at a time!? Now, move along please.” Well, actually He of We just thought that and breathed a sigh of relief when the big spender asked for one more pick but more conventionally taking just the one wager and then passed a handful of bills to the still robotic young man.
Yet another shopping outing of ours put us into the main aisle of a national chain of stores that claims to provide items for the bedroom, bathroom, and other rooms beyond those two. It seems odd that almost half of the store is dedicated to kitchen items and that kitchen isn’t in the store’s name but then we didn’t name that store so what do we know? In that main aisle we stopped to peruse one of the several clearance shelves. It is quite thoughtful that the store tags its clearance items with the reason for the item being on clearance. ‘Last one,’ ‘demo,’ ‘returned,’ ‘only 1 of a pair.’ All very helpful. But one of their reasons was “broken.” It was there that we noticed that many of the items on the shelf were tagged with that very reason. A clock was broken. A storage box was broken. A lamp was broken. It would seem that if an item is broken, that to sell it means the store doesn’t place much value on its customers’ intelligence. It’s almost as it they are saying, “If you make it cheap enough, people will buy anything.” And from the picked over look that the clearance section had, it seemed that many people had at least semi-seriously considered many of those items before deciding to move along, with or without encouragement.
So we’ve noticed that not only are the customers getting a little batty but so are the shopkeepers. Actually we don’t mind a little insanity in the shopping place. It makes for some lively dinner conversation and provides us with a bit of caution to not be too batty out there ourselves. But then, as long as you don’t dally and keep moving along, not many will notice.
Now, that’s what we think. Really. How ‘bout you?