But it’s not on the list!

Part of the Life-Changing Magic that I have enjoyed since Tidying Up The Kitchen is that I have become incredibly organized and non-hoarder-ish when it comes to food. I had gotten into a bad habit of freestyling when it came to grocery shopping. I would think, wow, what a great price for coconut milk!, then I would purchase several cans of said coconut milk, only to discover upon returning home that I had a dozen cans already in my cupboard, but no black beans, which I would have gone to the store for.

No longer! Now, since I’ve Kondo-ed My Life, I not only have all cans/ dry goods arranged by ingredient type and frequency of use, I also have four lists going at all times of purchases I need to make at one of the four major stores I shop at. I do not allow myself to write an item on my list until I am down to the last one or two of something, depending on how valued that item is in my life. For example, I would never go below two cans of chickpeas, but I might go as low as one can of coconut milk. I write every single item on the list, and then I do not deviate from the list.

Usually. But more on that in a moment.

Part of the problem I discovered with myself is that I seemed to have a certain desperate emotion when shopping that I had cultivated when the boys were small and it was difficult to get out to Costco or Superstore. I had that if I don’t get it now, I might not be back here for months kind of attitude, which is no longer my reality. I live within walking distance to a mall, a Walmart, two major drug stores and two grocery stores. I live within a very short drive to another mall, and within a 10-15 minute drive to Costco and Superstore. I am not Ma Ingalls, living 40 miles and across the river from Independence, Kansas, with only a horse and wagon to get to and from for basic living requirements. I am not stranded, thinking that the only thing my children will get for Christmas is a goddamn mini cake baked out of the white sugar I save for company only, because I can’t get to town.

I also tended to have the feeling that if I don’t get it now, what if the item is unavailable which is ridiculous. Rarely, if ever, are the four major stores I shop at completely out of large flake oats, tahini, or the laundry detergent I like. There is no need to hoard. Therefore, I shop based on my list ONLY. Mostly.

Lately I’ve been taking advantage of the hour the boys are at karate to go to Superstore for groceries. It’s a quick hour, but doable. Yesterday I found myself with a full cart behind a lady who didn’t seem to have too much in her cart. Great! However, she had put a divider between every few items, and then would pay for them separately, with different cards. Listen, everyone has a different situation, and that’s fine. I also think it’s kind of bullshit that “Grapes: $2.94, limit of 1” is a thing, and yes, the way around that is to pay for each container of grapes separately. That’s fine. I also realize everyone has different cards and different needs.

I’m just saying that it took FOREVER.

I zoned out a little bit, when I realized the cashier was addressing me. He had his hand on a package of Golden Oreos, which was right before the divider that had two pomegranates in a bag, which was right before the divider that separated my groceries. Naturally, since he had the Oreos in his sight, I figured he was asking about them, and so I said they weren’t mine.

“No!” he said sternly, with a huge frown. “I’m JUST asking if you want the Deal of the Week.” At that point, he waved a box of Q-Tips at me, which was, I assumed, the Deal of the Week. I declined, and he exhaled sharply. “It’s my JOB. I HAVE TO ASK IF YOU WANT THE DEAL OF THE WEEK.”

I get it. Customer service is HARD. It must have been especially hard with the lady paying for everything in separate, tiny groups, while her teenage children kept running up to the till with something else in hand, which he would ring through, and then she’d say that she didn’t want it. I get it.

When I was in university, I waitressed at Moxie’s for a few years. It was a good job for a student, but one August I worked 28 days in a row and by the end of it I hated the entire human race. I hated the elderly who would come and eat their one veal cutlet and drink their endless cups of hot water and then tip fifty cents, I hated the children who would scream if the red crayon was broken, I hated the women out on a girls’ night who would complain bitterly if there was too much salt on the rim of their margaritas and then would fail to tip at all, I hated the way people patted me on the butt or thigh as I walked by, to get my attention. I HATED THEM ALL.

But what I hated most was that we had certain items we had to sell, or promote, and certain language with which to promote them. There was a white board in the kitchen that listed every server’s name and how many of those items we had sold that week, and our shifts would depend on that. The person who sold fifty Long Island Iced Teas would get a better shift than the person who would sell two, and then it was a vicious cycle of bad shifts and inability to sell booze at the noon shift.

Worse, at that time there were “Mystery Shoppers” who had checklists to mark off, and if you didn’t use the particular language or promote the particular product, you could lose your job or get demoted to hostess, which was the worst. Dealing with hangry people in a lineup, seating people only to have them request a table change, or say that they really wanted a booth, with no tips to even soften the indignity of it all.

Any time I had a table, even if the table was full of barely-mobile elderly people, I had to cheerfully ask if they would like to try our feature drinks, today it is a Sea Breeze, and would they like regular or Moxie size for just $1.99 extra? And then half the time the customer would forget that they’d Moxie-sized it and dispute the bill and it was not fun at all.

All of which is to say, I get the cashier’s frustration. I get being tired and hating people and having to ask if they want the Deal of the Week. Sometimes there are people like me who are strictly shopping based on a list and no, lavender-scented liquid soap is not on that list, but it’s $1.99 and I am not made of stone, so I dither a bit and take too long to decide if I am going to spend TWO DOLLARS on an item that is not on my list but will be utilized eventually so maybe?

Anyway, I had just been to Costco, and have a three pack of 500 Q-Tips at home, which is at least a two-year supply in my household, so I was firm on that one. But then I heard the lady behind me, when the cashier asked if she wanted to partake, dither about whether or not $3.97 WAS a good deal or not, eventually deciding in the negative.

The cashier turned to me, loading my spinach and grapes (LIMIT OF ONE) in my cart, and he took a deep breath before muttering, “For FUCK’S SAKE.” under his breath.

And all I could think of was, I understand, buddy. I hope you get the day off tomorrow.


  1. Customer service jobs are the worst. I had a lot of those in college.

  2. In college I worked two summers in a small town movie theater and I’m only moderately ashamed to admit that when a customer was a complete asshole we’d take our revenge by filling their drink cup to the absolute maximum with ice so they got very little soda and/or filling their popcorn just short of the top. Yes, it’s passive-aggressive as hell but there really wasn’t anything we could do about Mr.or Mrs. Asshole directly and good god, how hard it is to be civil for a 2 minute interaction in which one buys concessions? (very hard for some people I guess). ANYWAY, the point is, I’m not sure I could do a customer service job anymore these days without being fired within days.

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