couponing in the holy land

Frugal food shopping for the Anglo Israeli

The Nine Plagues of Supermarket Shopping

Hashekel came up with a great list of the nine plagues of supermarket shopping, and since I got a good chuckle out of it (better to laugh than to cry) I thought I would loosely translate for you:

1. The lie that is the fast lane

Everyone knows that the fast lane is really the slowest in the store. So what do you do while waiting? Check out everyone’s basket, of course- does anyone actually have under ten items?  And what is the rule anyway- are three cucumbers one item or three?  Does it go by barcode or units?  That isn’t the real reason for the delay, though- it is the payment.  For some reason this line has people who count out each coin, have trouble deciding which credit card to use, or G-d forbid- write a check!  No matter what, payment in the fast lane takes longer than checking out a full wagon in the regular lane.

2. “Save my spot, I am coming right back”

So you are standing in line, trying to keep a positive attitude, when you get a tap on the shoulder and someone asks if you are the last in line (I’m not standing here for the view!).  When you respond affirmatively, the person says,”I’m after you.  Save my spot- I am just going to get something small and come right back.”

Since when must you perform this task?  But since we are polite Anglos, we are willing to help out a fellow Jew and save her spot.  The only problem- she isn’t gone for only a minute and a lot of people show up wanting to be “after you” on line.  Somehow you end up battling complete strangers for a place behind you for someone you never met before and STILL hasn’t come back!

3. The coupon that doesn’t work

You finally get to put your items up, and they are finally rung up and in bags.  You excitedly present your 70 agorot coupon you got from Facebook to the cashier.  She takes one look at it and her face falls.  Or she doesn’t even look at it- she says “kupa reishit bilvad” (main register only).  If you convince her otherwise, she takes it from your hands with a look of disgust and closely examines it from all sides.  Then she attempts to swipe it.  BEEP!  Doesn’t work.  Again- BEEP!  Doesn’t work.  She tries  typing in the bar code number- BEEP!  She calls the main cashier.  At this point, over 10 minutes have passed, the cashier is disgusted with you, the people in line behind you are disgusted with you, and you are even disgusted with yourself.  Finally it all works out and the 70 agorot is deducted from the bill.  Congratulations- you really beat the system.

4. The man who tries to pay by check

The check has been around in one form or another for hundreds of years.  But for some reason, for the cashier in the supermarket, this is the first time she has ever seen a check.  Although some registers can print the sum on the check, or the date, or your name, or something, it ever seems to work.  The cashier tries to put it in the wrong slot, it jams, and the main cashier has to be called.  The person is then taken to the main register to present his teudat zehut and get approval to use a check, but just then the electronic approval system is down.  Next time just pay with gold coins.

5. The entertaining cashier

In the store I frequent there is one cashier that I studiously avoid, even if she has no line.  But she is never empty, because each customer spends over half an hour with her.  Why?  Because each item in your wagon is cause for comment, joke and discussion.  Presenting your club card generates a complete stand-up act.  Then she asks you to donate to impoverished children and explodes in a long sad diatribe about how miserable they are and how you alone can save them.  Truly her talent is wasted in the supermarket.

6. “I just have this one item- can I go in front of you?”

If you just have that one item, why don’t you go to the fast lane??  OK, we know why she doesn’t.  Again, us nice Anglos want to help other MOT so we let her go.  Of course, then her credit card doesn’t work. Or she decides to pay by check.  Or her husband calls and tells her of the five other things she forgot- “I’ll be right back!”  Another ten minutes or so have passed when she finally finishes.  However at this point the whole store received the message that you are a Nice Guy and there are three more people asking you to go in front of you.  Harumph.

7. The person who doesn’t know how to use the self-serve registers

I already complained that my supermarket took out the self-serve registers, but they are still in many other places.  They were installed with the idea to save the consumers time (and the supermarkets money), and for the most part, they do.  Until you get the person in front of you who can’t figure out how it works.  Do you press or swipe?  Why do you have to press?  Do you weigh the vegetables before you press or after? Is a tomato a fruit or vegetable?  Where do you put the coins in to pay?  How do I pay by check?  There might be someone standing by to help or not. And she may help. Or not.

8. The person who rushes to put his items on the counter behind you

I have a system for putting my items on the counter- heavy/light, dairy/meat, coupon items in the end, etc.  I am very proud of my system and await the attention of the cashier.  Before she has a chance to look at me, the person behind me starts pushing my items forward to make room for his and even puts them on top of mine!  Hey!  What is the rush?  Yours can’t go through until mine are off and bagged! Plus I really don’t want to pay for your items as well- keep them back!

9. The person who packages their items too slowly

Other the other side of the cashier, there is the person who finished paying but still hasn’t packaged her shopping and left.  First she has to check the bill (good idea but not here).  Then she makes sure the milk isn’t expired.  Then she gets a phone call and is so involved she doesn’t bag her groceries.  In the meantime the cashier is moving my groceries along into a large pile (remember my specific placing of each item) and they get mixed with hers.  I get so distracted with keeping them separate and keeping the guy behind me’s stuff separate from mine that I haven’t packed and paid the way I wanted to.

10.  The 10th plague is left for the readers- what is your supermarket pet peeve?

If only…

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