Sep 17, 2008

Supermarket follies, II

This time I'm shopping for dinner. In the cart are a chicken, a bunch of asparagus, eight ounces of mushrooms and a spaghetti squash. The spaghetti squash was something of an impulse purchase. I'd actually been thinking about spaghetti squash a couple of days before--which shows you how boring my thinking is--when I spied one lone squash under a sign advertising spaghetti squash for $.79 a pound.

So off I go to check out. This time there are plenty of self-checkout registers available, but I don't do the self-checkout thing when I have produce. It's too much of a hassle; you have to keep going from screen to screen to identify the produce and often you can't find your item and all the while that stupid electronic voice is telling you to scan your next item or press finish and pay. Who needs the aggravation?

I get behind a guy with a cart's worth of groceries and wait. I'm not paying too much attention to the action ahead of me, but it all seems pretty standard: No missing UPC codes, no coupons that won't scan, no out-of-state checks that require a visit from the manager. The cashier, a tall young woman who vaguely resembles a melancholic giraffe, is scanning in the groceries in a business-like manner without any undue chitchat. Actually without any chitchat at all. Which is fine with me.

It's my turn. I've already put my groceries on the counter with the obligatory spacers separating my groceries from the guys ahead of and behind me. I offer my card and she scans. Time to scan the spaghetti squash. The cashier looks at the offending vegetable and takes a little cheat sheet out of her pocket. She punches in a number. I happen to look up at the screen: "Summer squash@$1.29 a pound."

"It's spaghetti squash," I say. "Not summer squash."

A small sigh as she reaches for the notebook on the side of the register where all the produce codes are kept. She's about to open the notebook when apparently she has an epiphany of sorts. She mutters something. Then, declares: "No. Not this time." Then she walks across the front of the store to the service desk.

Let me just interject, dear reader, that I made my remark without rancor. It was stated in a matter-of-fact tone. Nine times out of 10, I wouldn't have even noticed that she'd input the wrong squash into the register. And I probably wouldn't have said anything if I had. And I wouldn't have known the price of the spaghetti squash off the top of my head, either. But I had noticed this because the poor lonely spaghetti squash was offset from the rest of its friends in the the genus Cucurbita all by itself in a separate bin. I think it's also important to note the difference between a spaghetti squash and a summer squash. One summer squash at $1.29 a pound would probably cost around 50 cents. The heavier and much larger spaghetti squash rings in at almost $5. And those of us who have been woefully underemployed for nigh on 18 months can't be too careful.

Whatever. I don't actually get into the economics of the situation with our disconsolate ungulate as she scampers off before I can further enlighten her.

A pause ensues. I look back at the people behind me in line, now about 10 persons, and shrug my shoulders with a sheepish expression on my face to telegraph my apologies for having inadvertently become one of those people who hold other people up at the checkout counter. I'm thinking that identification of the offending vegetable might prove problematic as it is the only one in the store, it has no marks on it to identify it and the resident spaghetti squash expert is doubtless on vacation. I resolve to ditch the spaghetti squash.

The cashier approaches. I'm about to tell her to forget about the spaghetti squash when she reaches under the counter, grabs her purse and leaves the store. Apparently, I went too far. A girl can take all kinds of abuse, but when it comes to casting aspersions on her knowledge of squash varieties, well, she's just not gonna take that.

The woman from the service counter, who's right on the heels of the cashier, rings up the spaghetti squash as a supervisor comes up to me to apologize. I pay and go on my merry way.

I'm having the spaghetti squash for dinner tonight.


Holmes said...

At our Harris Teeter, there are mostly immigrants- many African immigrants. And I don't mean to draw stereotypical pictures of the noble, happy, immigrant people- but they are noble, happy immigrant people. And I have a feeling taking night classes on top of their two jobs. They are a delight to checkout with and I will gladly pay the 10% HT premium for the experience.

We didn't have Giants in the South. They are like WalMart only with less customer service and fewer choices.

Kevin said...

I bow before your greatness. I've been trying to make a cashier quit mid-purchase for years! The only way it could be better is if she cried. You are my goddess...