Friday, April 27, 2012

Why I need to find a new place to shop by Lise Milligan

I pride myself on being a good shopper. I make a list, clip coupons, can figure out cost per unit without consulting the shelf tag, and am seldom swayed into buying extras just for bonus rewards if it's an item we don't need. Having worked in a grocery store in my youth, I also pride myself on being a good customer: I never complain about how my groceries are bagged, am unfailingly nice to staff, and savvy enough about store layout psychology to find things without needing assistance (Campbell's tomato soup will almost always be on a bottom shelf). However, I also seem to be a mishap magnet. To the kind folks at Sobeys on University Avenue, my deepest apologies. It will likely be a while before I darken your door again after my recent visit.

List in hand, I was doing my usual circuit of the store. When I reached the meat aisle, a woman ahead of me was trying to make some room in her cart. In the process, she dropped a bottle of liquid laundry detergent which splattered all over the floor. A clerk was right there to clean the spill. The lady looked back at me red-faced, and I gave her a "what can you do?" shrug. I knew she was mortified, and it wasn't like she did it on purpose. While she sent her son to get another bottle, I continued past her and moved on to the dairy section. I have to admit I was feeling a bit smug and relieved that I wasn't that poor woman.

Once I'd picked up my milk and cheese, I noticed a huge display of barbecue sauce, and there was a buy one, get one free offer. Since it was on my list, I plucked a bottle from the top of the display and looked to see what other flavors they had. The only other kinds I liked were further down, and they were all on cardboard cutaway boxes stacked on top of one another to just above my eye level. I reached down for a garlic bottle, and when I removed it, I could feel the column start to sag. Quickly I replaced the bottle and steadied the stack. Further up was onion, which I also liked, so I thought I'd take that instead. I just barely put a hand on it when the stack abruptly collapsed. I tried to steady what was left to avoid further mayhem. Another shopper asked me if I wanted her to get a clerk, and I said yes as I was intent on damage control. Shortly after that, the rest of the right side of the display cascaded onto the floor. I was ankle-deep in barbecue sauce. Fortunately the bottles were plastic.

By this time, there were several people watching all this with interest and amusement. Just as I saw the manager coming with two clerks in tow, the whole left side of the display gave way..... which also took out an adjacent shelf of pickles. Those, sadly, were in glass jars. It was carnage. A little boy goggled at me, and I could tell he was wondering how long I'd be on time out for creating that big mess. Just then, the lady who'd dropped the detergent came along, and she gave me the same shrug. This is why I don't laugh, because karma is indeed a bitch. Surveying the havoc I'd caused, and aware there were kids nearby, all I could say was, "Well, poop". I was standing there, with a bottle still in my hand, surrounded by debris, and it was almost irresistible to blurt out "I didn't do it". The manager rushed over and asked if I'd hurt myself. I said, "No, I'm embarrassed to death, but I'm fine. I tried to keep it from getting worse.... but it just kept getting worse!". He reassured me that it was no concern, the main thing was that no one was hurt. He and one of the clerks lifted my cart clear of the wreckage and set it down on the other side so I could continue. Seeing how scarlet I was, the manager consoled, "If you just keep going, hardly anyone will know this was your doing". Somehow I doubted that, but I thanked him, apologized, and kept going. I had new admiration for the Dutch boy and the dike.  In the same predicament, I'd failed miserably. As I slunk away, I could hear the manager telling the clerks, "We should never have built the display that way". No kidding.

To compound my humiliation, two aisles later I passed an end cap with more barbecue sauce. I could have taken it safely from there. Then I went down the condiment aisle and again felt a fool as I realized I could have gotten it there as well. So much for being a clever shopper. And as if to mock me, Britney Spears' "Oops, I Did it Again" was blaring from the store stereo. That was enough for one day. I hightailed it to the register and then beelined for home. As I made my way in with the groceries, James came to help me. He took one look at my face and asked what was wrong. I said, "Bet you're glad you stayed home today", and launched into the story. He was laughing so hard he was crying by the time I  recounted it all for him. Still snickering, he joked, "Hurricane Lise strikes again", and thanked me for letting him stay home that trip. 

Well, there's a new Sobeys just opening closer to home.... think I'll try my luck there. Surely I can't do worse....

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