I worked as a grocery-store cashier for two years, and I often give thanks for that experience.
It taught me plenty of insider tips, such as the fact that marshmallows are almost always stored by the cake mix, and that hamburger measured out by the butcher always tastes better than the pre-packed variety.
But naturally, it also taught me that certain customers, to be frank, can be jerks.
Most of them are fine or even friendly. But others made me wonder if they were never taught to respect other people with whom they share the world.
Here are a bunch of things that people do in grocery stores that they really shouldn’t.
We’ve all picked something off the shelf and then changed our mind later. But don’t just set the item wherever you happen to be — especially if it’s a refrigerated or frozen item. No one wants frozen green beans dripping and melting away in the cereal aisle.
If it’s easy to put it back where you got it, do that, or just give the item to the cashier or an employee and tell them you changed your mind.
Some store aisles are roomy, but others are blocked by pillars or sale displays, and are already tight. It doesn’t help when an oblivious shopper abandons their cart in the snack foods so they can wander over to the condiments and peruse the pickles.
Try to respect your fellow shoppers — pull your cart off to a roomy area if you must leave it briefly. (And don’t leave a purse or wallet in the cart — thieves look for exactly this situation.)
Shopping right before close
When the store is open until 10 p.m., don’t show up at 9:59 p.m. planning to spend an hour doing your weekly shopping for a large family. Employees want to get home, too, and it’s possible your cluelessness will force them to stay an additional unpaid hour.
Not prepping payment
It’s a grocery-store cliche — the customer who waits until every item is rung up before slowly pulling out their checkbook and beginning to fill in their check as slowly as if they were doing calligraphy for a wedding invitation.
Fewer stores accept checks these days, but the same principle applies. Don’t make the customer behind you sigh and fume by waiting until your total is given and only then digging through your purse or wallet for cash or a credit card.
Running back for one more thing and halting the line
It’s the day before Thanksgiving and in the heat of big-meal shopping, you forgot the cranberry sauce. Back in my day, I’d helpfully ask the bagger to run get that missing can for you.
But in our rushed-up world where baggers are rare, you may have to get it yourself. That’s fine, but make sure you know which aisle you’re going to, and don’t dawdle along the way. The shoppers lining up behind you will be grateful.
Whatever happened to all those old slogans, like “Keep America beautiful,” and “Put litter in its place”? Maybe we should bring them back.
Don’t scatter your used tissues or crumpled shopping list in the store or parking lot, or leave them in your cart. Most stores have a trash can out front or near each register — use it for its intended purpose.
Aggressively touching or squeezing products
The old bathroom tissue slogan “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin” applies to produce as well. Sure, you want to know if that avocado is rock-hard or about to go bad, but touch it gently.
Same with bread or anything else soft — don’t go pawing through the hot dog buns, leaving fingerprints in the ones you leave behind.
Breaking or spilling something and walking away
It happens — shoppers accidentally break products. Usually, the store management eats the cost and you’re not even charged for your goof.
But don’t leave your breakage behind and pretend it didn’t happen. Alert staff so they can clean it up — no one wants to slide in spilled pickle juice or cut themselves on broken glass.
Eating food you haven’t paid for
Doesn’t it only seem right to buy something before you eat it? Yet every day, people rip into a bag of chips or a candy bar, then hand the cashier the sticky, torn wrapper and expect them to ring it up.
I mean, on the one hand, you fessed up and paid for it, but on the other hand … just wait until you buy the product.
Yelling at employees
No cashier sets the food prices — that’s way above our pay grade. And it’s also not the employee’s fault if the store is sold out of a certain item.
Don’t take things out on them — no one set out to disappoint you, and a little understanding and kindness go a long way.