Thursday, October 15, 2009

Right Hook

Yesterday was another perfect Autumn weather day here in the Northeast. For reasons not completely understood, I chose it to finally hit BJ’s for some way-overdue supplies.

For those of you that are not familiar, BJ’s is one of those bulk-package warehouse-places…where in order for it to be worth your while, you must be willing to:

  • purchase everything in considerable amounts…sometimes as much as triple what you’d normally buy (you never know when there could be a massive community shortage of Comet...or Jell-o…you could be everyone’s HERO)
  • be prepared to see a total higher than anything you’ve previously paid (possibly EVER) in one outing for household supplies and food (you’ll see your own horrified expression replicated up and down the other checkout aisles…not that it will make you feel any better)
  • walk for approximately three miles through a complex array of products, whilst artfully dodging those ladies who are trying to get you to sample the newest chicken strips disguised as French fries (nothankyouverymuchreallythanksanyway)

Amazingly, people will actually pay a membership fee for the honor…no, the privilege of shopping in this store…that’s how SPECIAL it is. What kind of hype is this? A membership fee to go shopping? Who’s falling for this practice in deception, anyway??

Alas, I am one of those people.

The carts are extra-big and the aisles are extra-wide. This does not in any way make it any easier to push a 30 pound cart with a severe right hook that’s loaded down with another 20 pounds of orange soda, spring water, liquid soap, aluminum foil and enough paper towels to clean up the next year’s worth of bloody noses, Heaven forbid and knock on wood.

So there I am…trying to accumulate all the items on my l-o-n-g list…and I’m only able to make right hand turns, severely cutting into my “IN, OUT, DONE” technique of efficiency-shopping. The good news is that people are giving me a wide berth. They seem to instinctively realize that once moving, I am incapable of stopping my shopping cart…I’m like a MACK truck careening down the freeway…you wouldn't expect a MACK truck to just stop, now would you? It’s a simple law of physics…a cart in motion will tend to stay in motion….whilst decidedly leaning to the right, that is.

By the time I got to the front of the store and the checkout lanes, I couldn't fit any other items on my cart. (Notice I use the word “on” and not “in”, for I’ve surpassed “in” about 30 minutes ago.) Everything’s precariously balanced so as to take into account the extra right-hand-turns I’ve been forced to endure…my entire cart is an exercise in stability. Or not.

Not that it matters. Now I have to unload to pay for said items. I am a huge fan of the Self-Checkout lanes…it gives one a limited amount of control in an environment where I haven’t had much, up to that point. Besides, I like the computer-generated-voice that announces the price of each item. I especially like the way her voice gets downright chipper when the item scanned is over, say ten dollars:

TEN dollars, forty-nine cents!!! That’s a LOT of sponges! Do you use them more than once?! They’re reusable, you know! But what do I care?! I’m a computer!”

As you would imagine, the other end of the automated conveyor belt fills up pretty quickly…especially because I’m trying to scan fast enough to make the computer-lady-voice interrupt herself…a trick I find to be highly amusing. Then she inevitably shuts down on me and announces “The baggage area is full. And stop trying to make me interrupt myself…it’s embarrassing and only shows how immature you humans really are.” This mini tongue-lashing (combined with the now-blinking light overhead…stupid computer…) is enough to catch the attention of the employee whose only job is to oversee us self-checkers and make sure we don’t try to abscond with a 12-pack of toothbrushes, a 48 pack of Duracell batteries, or something equally decadent.

This is actually a good thing, as he will wind up helping me repack my cart on the other end whilst I continue terrorizing the computer-scanner…a maniacal high-pitched giggle escaping from my lips. He’ll also use the handy-dandy hand-scanner to hit the heavier items (all the while glancing sideways at me with a look somewhere between fear and amusement).

It will then proclaim my grand total in its loudest computer-voice, with just a hint of sarcastic-satisfaction added for good measure. All those within earshot with smile that sad smile of their own, knowing their mind-blowing total is just around the corner...so, they feel my pain. I’ll dutifully swipe my already-burdened credit card and with herculean effort will attempt to coax the cart back into motion. The tenuous ride through the parking lot is next, with me frantically grabbing items as they attempt to jump ship as we bounce over, under around and through the various stragegically-placed potholes, dips and garbage that stands between the store and my ride. Finally making it to my car...I'll once again unpack, repack and balance for the ride home.

It'll be a miracle if the bread makes it home in anything close to its original loaf-shape-design and if the bulk-packaged ground beef hasn't mated with the Jarsburg cheese to have produced the world's only 10-pound food item guaranteed to clog your arteries, raise your chloresterol and leave a copious amount of unidentified blood on the carpet on your back seat floor. All this is never planned, mind you...it was that sudden stop to keep from hitting squirrel #54728 of the year that caused everything to fly helter-skelter, with even the chips falling where they may. (As usual, pun intended)

Lucky for me, I’ve got two strapping boys at the other end of this experience. Whatever makes it through the garage and up the stairs without being devoured is deemed edible/useable for the foreseeable future. They no longer ask what the hell happened to the bread/meat/cheese/chips during the long car ride home...my scowl ususally says it all.

And then we’re golden once again.


Chrissie said...

This post made me laugh.
I love your impression of the computerised voice.

starfish264 said...

Oh god - I'm laughing so hard I'm having to duck down and hide my face as I sit at my desk supposedly working. The beef and the Jarlsberg mating? I would LOVE to see what that looked like! Some giant cheese stuffed burger maybe?(mmmmmmmm cheeeeeese .... Sorry got distracted there!). This is definitely why I shop at an upmarket supermarket where the worst you have to worry about is probably running over some toddler called Tarquin whose sniffling because he's lost his bunny rabbit lol. MUCH less traumatic!

book*addict said...

JAJAJAJAJA, I'll never be able to shop at BJ's the way again. And imagine it's my turn to go this weekend. I'm going to have to try your game of interrupting the computerized women. jajaja.

JD at I Do Things said...

In Chicagoland, our version of BJ's is CostCo or Sam's Club. We belong to Sam's Club, although I am no longer allowed to make the trip, since I tend to buy 100 of EVERYthing to ensure I don't have to go back for another year. Dave didn't like that approach. That's fine with me. I saw a mouse there once.

When I do the self-checkout at our regular grocery store, it's a race between me scanning items as fast as possible and the computer breaking down. If you're not fast, inevitably the "Please wait for assistance" voice rings throughout the store. Unfortunately, there is no assistance. There's supposed to be a person designated (like at BJ's) to watching over the self-checker-outers, but they're always off flirting with the stockboys.

I've found that hitting a bunch of keys and taking items on and off the belt will sometimes confuse the computer into letting me get outta there.

jmberrygirl said...

I despise the feature of self-check out that refuses to let you move an item from the scanner to the buggy without a bag. I also don't like checking out without a human being to discuss the increasing price of everything in my buggy and the weather and the length of their shift and whatever other small talk comes to mind. I get lonely in my office with only one or two humans to provide an outlet for my endless chatter. And my husband gets tired of hearing it, I'm sure. So the cashiers catch the brunt of that on my monthly (ok, 3 times weekly) trips to the grocery. I don't do big box stores because with just the two of us, stuff spoils before we can use it all, anyway.

Isabella said...

Oh yes, we've all been there. The best part is when I'm lugging in all the bags and my husband doesn't notice me going in and out of the house despite my exaggerated grunts. I'm on my last trip and he says, "oh did you need help." All innocent like.... yah sure.

Maureen@IslandRoar said...

From shopping on this little island, I am in awe when I get into a BJ's. We went and got deck chairs there last spring and I just wondered around with my chin hitting the floor.
You're so funny!

BlackLOG said...

Sorry Kathryn whatever bill you managed to rack up at BJ's (I'm English so you will probably might need to put me straight on this, is BJ's a store or a sexual act?) Mrs B surpassed by several zero's at the weekend, purchasing an "Imported Italian designer Leather Sofa".

While I'm sure you had not realised that you were in competition with Mrs B, please don't encourage her any further. If I find that you have influenced her in anyway "to pay for the privilege of shopping", things will not go well between us....

P.S. Have your boys been introduced to the pleasure of shopping with moms credit card - I have a little game for them, it called "let's see who can get the card over its limit the quickest...."

Lauren said...

Sounds like a fun day of shopping. Much more productive than mine. I only harassed a security guard... terrorizing a computer lady sounds more fun.

Junk Drawer Kathy said...

I refuse to shop at BJ's. They rejected me once. I wasn't a member and they got all mean about it at the checkout. There I was, holding two giant tubes of overly-seasoned snacks that someone told me I could only get at BJs. They didn't TELL ME I COULDN'T BUY THEM IF I WASN'T A MEMBER!!

I was unceremoniously told to leave the snacks behind and go. "Just go, ma'am." And then everyone who was a member pointed and laughed at me as I left snackless, never to return to such a place again. Well, not really, but I felt like I was being laughed at. I hurt. Pass me a tissue.

Very funny post, Kathryn!

f8hasit said...

I go to Costco's. Much like BJ's.
I can't seem to get out of there for less than $300.
I mean, seriously...$300!

And that makes me think I'm saving money?
:-)

Spot said...

Wow. I don't belong to any of those clubs. And silly, silly girl...why are you at the store alone when you have two strapping boys?! I never shop alone! Who's going to bend down and put those huge bags of dog food/cat food/cat litter in the cart? NOT ME! No, I always take at least one helper to the store. And I hit at least two stores, usually three in the interest of sales fliers. Exhausting. But worth it. But don't forget to reward(bribe) said helpers with fast food. =]

♥Spot

lifelove'n'wine said...

Ah, the joys of grocery shopping. This is why I avoid the bulk stores. The regular grocery store is all I can handle.

Ron said...

Can you believe I've never shopped in a BJ's or Costco!?!?

I know...how un-American is that?

Mainly because I've always lived in small apartments, so I have to shop like a Europen - twice a week. Also, I know myself...if I were to enter one of those stores I would end up buy stuff I didn't need only because it was a great deal.

Hey... I LOVE using the self-serve checkout line at CVS. Mostly because I can usually ring faster than most cashiers and also because I love to hear the automated voice.

As always, my friend....great post!

Hope you're having a GRANDE' day!

It's raining and very cold here in Philly. Brrrrrrrrrr!

xoxoxo

Oddyoddyo13 said...

Wow. BJs sounds like the place to shop!

Insanity said...

Well I have to say I've never been in a store like that one, but I know people who have. I tend to avoid the self checkout lines though, I always mess myself up. Sad I know, but true. And I hate the stupid computer's voice. Especially if I'm in a bad mood. It grates on my nerves. I almost yelled at one to shut up the other day. XD Lovely post today. (:

Gingerella said...

I've only shopped at one of those warehouse stores a couple of times, but your humorous description of the experience hits the nail on the head!

Heather said...

I,ve never been able to shop at Sam's club. I was offered the oppurtunity for membership once, but had to decline.

We would never be able to store all of that stuff!

jennyonthespot said...

Um... I think you just wrote about my last trip to Costco. I think you just changed the location and names to protect the innocent. Dude.

Kathryn said...

Chrissie: Thanks, sweetie. That computerized voice is just a little too chipper for my taste!

starfish264: Oh, but you're missing SO. Much. Fun. The cart can't weigh more than 500lbs fully loaded...and then there's no bagging...so everything goes in the car LOOSE. Good times....

book*addict: It's lots of fun, but ya gotta be FAST. It's become a game of sorts with me...but, what else are ya gonna do to amuse yourself?? Try it! Let me know how it goes!

JD at I Do Things: Oh, you. We'd be such a great team when it comes to buying food. You'd buy too much and we'd both get kicked out for crashing their computer system!

jmberrygirl: Well, I can appreciate your not needing things in BULK. It's a LOT of stuff and it's hard to find a place to put it all. I'm on the phone a lot for work, so I kinda like messing with the computerized voice for a change...

Isabella: Uh huh. The worst thing about these bulk places is that there ARE no bags...that's one of the perks you get to do without when you PAY for the membership. So, everything is carried in one...by one....by one....87 trips, easy.....

maureen@IslandRoar: BIG warehouse, right? You must've been in heaven! I've bought a few big ticket items there...including an outdoor patio set. They've got some great deals.

BlackLOG: Ahem. (Mrs. B? Da jig is out of the cookie jar....I repeat: the jig is OUT. PLAN B! PLAN B!)
Sorry, guy...I've no idea what you're talking about. As for da boys? The have pre-determined spending limits (what will they think of next?) and when it's gone, it's gone. Oh, and it's their green they're spending. The have more money than I do sometimes!

Lauren: Well, that's only 'cause a security guard is a real person...right? I mean, you didn't harass a security camera, did you?
THAT'D be fun....

Junk Drawer Kathy: Aw, honey! Here's the whole tissue box. I do believe we shall pen them a letter:
Dear Bitchy Jackass: How freakin' dare you? Take your overly-seasoned snacks and..well...you know. You owe us $25k for pain and suffering. Oh, and 44 cents for the stamp. Love, Kathy & Kathryn, respectively.

ValleyWriter said...

I once made it out of BJs with a bill less than $100. I felt like such a frugalista that day - on top of the world! (It hasn't happened since... and probably never will.)

Kathryn said...

f8hasit: Hey, you hotshot BoN star, you! I'm the same way at BJ's...never under $200...never. And it's JUST FOOD...and household supplies, no electronics or jewels. BUT, I prob don't go back for MONTHS.
For THOSE items, anyway....

Spot! I've determined that shopping with both (or either) of the boys results in me buying more crap. It's easier to buy w/o them and leave the car full till they can empty it. Tried and true. At least, for me!

lifelove'n'wine: Aw, but the deals! The JUMBP sized boxes of cereal! The 8-pack of toothbrushes! The 30-lb container of laundry detergent! Ya don't know what you're MISSING!!

RON! Again with the "cold" reference? What're trying to do to me, Ron? You're gonna wind up pissing me off and then I'll have to come down there. That's your plan all along...isn't it? You've got plan...I just know it. You've already told me you're a planner!
I'm bringing you the 24-pack container of Bounty Paper-towels...and then I'll laugh hysterically as you try to find a place to store it.

Kathryn said...

Oddyoddyo13:Yep!Great prices...just too much of everything!

Insanity! Well, for you, I'd bring the duct tape to cover the speaker for her voice, so it wudn't bother you. But, only for you, bay-bee.

Gingerella: Yeah, it's a hoot and a half. I really don't enjoy going, but the longer I put it off, the more stuff I have to buy, so it really doesn't pay to proscratinate!

Tinkerschnitzel said...

I'm not allowed to shop at those stores. My husband would kill me, especially seeing as how my grocery budget is $150 a week. I would blow that easily! I love messing with the computers. >:) I hate the ones at Walmart, though, especially when I go with my mom. She DOES yell at it, usually with a fair number of threats and expletives for good measure.

saku chan said...

thinking of bloody noses my bro ran nose first into some one playing dodge ball can you belive haha i totaly luaghed my head off i thought it really funny cus it was the stupid game that they where playing haha but i also felt sorry for the guy aww poor baby brother

saku chan said...

and yea i have promblems with my computer sometimes my pics dont even wanna work grr *kicks computer across the room*WHY WONT YOU WORK ! sorry about that and i love changin in and out of pictures haha this week its anime pic its tifa lockheart i so would like to have a name like that hehe

Marissa the Conservative said...

The squirrel number made me laugh. Those little things just come outta nowhere sometimes! They can seriously cause an accident. Losing a life because good citizens try to save one. tsk, tsk, tsk. BJ's sounds awfully like Sam's Club here in Chicago. It's crazy. They have like...100 pack of Capri Sun for like 15$. Good thing I really can't go on a grocery shopping spree. Hooray for teenage years :)

Allegria said...

My roomates and I would go to Costco for lunch. Sample all the reheated frozen tidbits of the week. Buy a bunch of toilet paper and a wheelbarrow load of pineapple salsa. Good to go. Gotta love the voice, too. Especially when it says something like: "Extra item placed in bagging area. Please remove item and continue"--and there's nothing there, except a crumb that has dropped from my son's cracker. Or: "Items still remain in cart. Please scan items now or press OK to pay." At which point I'm frantically trying to find a bar code on my kids, cos heaven knows I don't want to pay a cent more than I have to. (sorry--I had to delete again a previous post again. Technical difficulties. Please stand by... :oP)

Kathryn said...

Heather: Well, you just need to add onto your house...it's the only logical answer! Gotta catch the deals!!

jennyonthespot: Ya got me....I caught it all on videotape, too. You owe me $1000 or...well....you know....now, pass the cookies, or the tape finds it's way into "unfortunate" hands.....

ValleyWriter: Yeah. Well, that's 'cause you only bought a bottle of Advil and some gum. Consider yourself lucky. (My fav applesauce laday...and no, haven't made it yet)

Tinkerschnitzel: Your mom yells at the computers at Walmart? Why? Are they more demeaning and snarky than the ones everywhere else??

saku chan: I hate when Connor gets bloody noses (usually in winter)...freaks me out (inside, of course).

Marissa the Conservative: Yes, Bj's, Costco, Sam's Club...all same thing, IMHO. (No lawsuits, please) No way to anchor it all down, so it's a free-for-all on the way home...you take your life in your hands in my car!

Allegria: I know! You've perfectly described that annoying voice! Don't-cha wanna just mess with it till it shuts down??? seriously.

Tinkerschnitzel said...

I think it's because my mom hates the voice. And the fact that they are sooo slow. She talks back to it like it's a real person. She hit one last week. I'm surprised they didn't ask us not to come back, but this is Walmart. Maybe that's why there is never anyone using those?

Allegria said...

Oh--I was going to tell you my mom's story about the trauma patient who came to the ER at the hospital where mom worked. Beaned in the head by a cabbage when she had to stop suddenly. End of story (and, unfortunately, the driver). Mom made the story more graphic, but I think the image of cabbage flying around the car graphic enough, thanks.

OK--that was a downer. Let's eat popsicles and chear up, now.

Mandarin Kitten said...

So... it's like Costco, only even more whole sale like. I really hate self check out,and there are just some things you don't want the machine to blurt out like... cat litter, $25.99... fat cat... tampons 14.99 hey it's wholesale!... cage monkey... free!

Runnergirl said...

Lol!

I always fancy that the sat nav sounds vaguely hysterical when I've missed a turning...

Loz said...

Haha, way to be funny!
:)
Nice blog. :)

Mark Price said...

How could I have not already commented? I like buying stuff in bulk, especially beer.

Kathryn said...

Tinkerschnitzel: Gee...I've never even seen the automated ones at Walmart. But that could be 'cause I never go there. I'm sure your mom has a very good reason for yelling at it, though.

Allegria: Ah. So the cabbage was loose in the car and clocked someone in the head? Hey, I wud imagine that would HURT. Cabbage are HARD when uncooked...aren't they??

Mandarin Kitten: Uh huh. Like costco...but I hadn't thought about the stuff you don't want blurted out for everyone to hear! good point!

Runnergirl: I don't care...as long as she sounds annoyed....'cause that's the fun of it!

Loz: Welcome and thank you! Visit again, if you can!

Mark Price: Yeah! I was happy when I saw the Heineken. I figured BJs wasn't so bad after all!

evilteenietiff said...

THey should make groceries into the shapes you find in tetris.

Every trip to the shops would be like playing a game!

Kathryn said...

evilteenietiff: Oh, yeah...every senior citizen on the planet would be clogging up the aisles! Then, I'd knock 'em all over with my heavy cart!

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