The Ten Commandments of Grocery Shopping

Given the fact that the employees at my local grocery store see me more than my own family does, it’s safe to say that I have quite a bit of experience pushing a full cart around.

While I generally enjoy the experience because a) I love finding and checking things off of a list and b) food, there are a few simple things that would make it better for all those involved.

Thou shall not leave your cart in an empty parking spot.

There are two kinds of people in this world: 1) those who return carts to the cart corral and 2) a-holes. Leaving a cart to find it’s own way home often results in the cart camping out in a parking spot someone will inevitably pull halfway into before realizing the cart is there and angrily backing out, pissing off people behind them. The carts have a home. Help them find their home.

Thou shall not walk down the center aisle of the parking lot.

You do not have super-human pedestrian powers that override people in their cars trying to get past or around you. Pick a side — any side — and no one gets hurt.

Thou shall travel up and down the aisle like a civilized person.

Up one side, down the other. If you’re barreling down the middle or the wrong side like a linebacker and clip my cart, I am not above throwing a shoulder. Also, try to refrain from doing a 180 halfway down a jam-packed aisle only to amble along as if you’re taking in the sights of the Louvre. It’s soup. Not the Sistine Chapel.

Thou shall obey the express line rules.

The sign says 15 items or less. It does not say, “Everything you can stick in the small-ass cart you chose instead of regular cart.” That does not refer to the number of item types, but the actual item count. For example, those 75 cans of soup that took you 15 minutes to pick out does not count as a single item. You are not a special snowflake. If everybody ignored this rule, it would just be a regular line.

Thou shalt not decide against the frozen pizza you picked up in the frozen foods section and then place it on the shelf next to the shampoo.

Really? Come on now, people.

Thou shall respect the invisible checkout line bubble of personal space.

Regardless of how close you creep up or how many items you throw on the belt, you will be next — after me. If you continue to creep up, I will pretend to go through my coupon keeper for an extraordinary amount of time and chit chat with the cashier…unless you would like to pay for my produce. In that case, you have a deal.

Thou shall treat the cashier with respect.

This means not chatting on your phone while she’s ringing up your groceries or getting ticked when she won’t accept the four expired coupons you thought she’d ignore. If you get caught trying to sneak in an expired coupon, just let it go. It’s 35-cents off of dish soap. You’ll survive.

Thou shall not stop at the exit to go over your receipt.

Once given your receipt and all 300 extra pieces of paper that get pumped out of the printer with it, do not stop and read the receipt like it’s a treasure map. There is nothing on that paper that is that important that you need to throw on the brakes and cause a backup. Move it along.

Thou shall reconsider the self-checkout.

Know your limits. Can you find a bar code on a product? Match the picture of bananas on the screen to the bananas in your cart? Flatten paper money to insert into a slot? If you answered “no” to any of those questions, don’t be a hero. Go through the normal checkout.

Thou shall not stalk for a parking spot.

Finally, do not slowly drive behind me at 5 mph impatiently waiting for my parking spot that is often only two down from another available spot. Unless you’re going to get out and help me unload my groceries into the back, your insistence on sitting there, impatiently revving the engine on your minivan, will force me to do a full vehicle check — interior and exterior — before getting back in and leaving 5 minutes later.

Thank you for shopping with us.

Have a nice day.

Originally published in 2014.

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16 responses to “The Ten Commandments of Grocery Shopping

  1. I am guilty of walking down the center of the parking lot. I thought this was ok because everyone does it. I know, I know, that’s the worst excuse in the world. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I will change my ways immediately.
    Love your article.

  2. What about Thou shall not let your bratty kids run up and down the isles and molest the produce!

  3. Haha! Good rules!

  4. That frozen pizza one hit a little too close to home. My saddest moment as a grocery store employee back in college was discovering a formerly beautiful pork tenderloin, now molded over, deliberately hidden behind several strategically placed boxes of Ritz crackers in the snack aisle. I saw a lot of perishables left in stupid places over my years there, but that one made me the angriest.

    Like, why? Why would you go to all the trouble of rearranging a whole display to hide a perishable product you no longer want rather than a) returning it to its original location, b) leaving it in any one of the NUMEROUS other refrigerated sections throughout the store, or c) just handing it to an employee and saying you don’t want it anymore? WHY?

  5. I abide by all of these, I can safely say I am a considerate shopper. can I add, thou shall not pass judgment with comment on the contents of my cart. yes, I do actually like kale. yes, I do actually plan to eat all of these vegetables.

  6. These are fantastic rules that should be printed at all grocery stores and malls. I particularly enjoyed the note that people should pick a side, and preferably the side everyone else is walking on as well.

  7. Hahaha, this is great. In my hometown rules like these certainly applied. Now that I’m in Philly, despite trying to make my shopping experience efficient for both myself and others, you can’t trust that any one else cares to do the same.

  8. Excellent list of commandments. I would also add one more. Thous shall be respectful to older shoppers and those in need of assistance. Oh, and no kids shoving shopping carts up my ankles.

  9. Ha-Larious. I wish I had you with me as I shop at Whole Foods in the summer on the Cape. I might actually get through the experience unscathed. I could add a few commandments for grocery employees and markets in general but who would listen..

  10. More posts!!! Where are you??? 😮

  11. Haha nice post! Definitely agree with the express lane commandment 😊 it should be followed!

  12. Fun post! And completely agreeable! Grocery shopping is the best cause you don’t feel guilty spending money, and no one really notices if you put like 20 extra bars of chocolate in your cart!

  13. What about, “Thou shalt have your coupons ready upon checkout”

  14. I have just found your blog via Meleah’s, and I love it! Your ten commandments are priceless (especially the self checkout one), and I recognise so many of those situations.

    I’d like to add just one more and make it eleven: “Thou shalt not wander around the aisles having poured half a bottle of heavy-duty perfume over yourself, so that it hangs in the air like a comet tail and chokes anyone with the slightest sensitivity. It makes you smell like a refugee from a chemical warfare factory gone supernova.”

  15. This is dead on. My favorite is the person attempting to buy alcohol on Sunday, in the self check out line, before noon. A recent grocery store visit featured 4 people at each of the stores self checkout, with full carts of groceries. All had one or mor of the following: produce items, alcohol, coupons and all for needed assistance multiple times. Of course, I only needed to buy 3 items.

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