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Although most of us do not enjoy the grocery store shopping experience at what comedian Jerry Clower called “super-dyna-whopping” stores, these places are nonetheless a necessary evil in today’s world and we all have to eventually bite the bullet and go through the process.
Here are some suggestions of things you can do in grocery stores not only to help occupy the time, but also to make the experience more bearable or entertaining.
Wear a hat, sunglasses and a strange outfit when doing your shopping so people won’t recognize you. No matter, you will look no worse than most of the others in there.
Before leaving home for the grocery store, compile an imaginary shopping list that will later be used for personal entertainment purposes only.
Let your mind go crazy as you put together a strange assemblage of items that might include laxative, mouse traps, Liquid Plumr, styling gel, fig preserves, a large bag of potato chips, cotton balls and a pineapple.
You cannot get too bizarre.
Before exiting the store, leave this list in a prominent location in your cart so whoever sees it later will read it and wonder what kind of weird person would buy such stuff.
Since many customers tend to arrive at the grocery store by the busload, the first thing to do when entering the parking lot is to count the number of buses on the premises.
The actual number serves no purpose other than being a conversation-starter with fellow shoppers and being able to say later “Guess what? I counted 21 buses today.”
At least it’s better than talking about health issues.
And, speaking of health, if you are expecting to be in a hurry, you might want to print out a sign to wear around your neck that provides details on your medical situation to include such items as when your next surgery is scheduled, what medicines you are taking and what the doctors are saying, that kind of stuff.
This should save lots of time for everyone.
You may also want to try guessing the medical problems and ailments of other shoppers, although that tends to get more complicated.
If you see any of your former high school classmates while shopping, try to gauge how they have aged in comparison with yourself in the areas of graying, balding, weight gain or just plain gotten uglier.
Be careful with this one, though, as it does not always work in your favor.
Remember, they are looking at you as well, so keep in mind also that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
After entering the store, your first job is to get a cart that could require using either a cutting torch or bolt-cutters to separate the one you have chosen from the rest of the pack.
Finding one that rolls without the wheels dragging might be too difficult a task, but at least give it a whirl.
After finally claiming your cart, proceed to the toilet paper aisle where you can load up with two or three large 12-roll packages of tissue.
Make sure they are stacked so everyone can clearly see them.
If you feel wild and wacky, you might want to toss in a large jug of Metamucil, a can of floor polish, a gallon of pickled pig’s feet and some cinnamon buns.
Again, this is all designed for other shoppers to look at the stuff in your basket and wonder in amazement.
When you get near a group of people, start talking loudly on your cellphone and yell out to an imaginary person on the other end of your the line things like “Did you buy the beer yet?” or “Is $1.89 a good price for ketchup?” “I think that’s cheaper than it is at (Insert name of another grocery store).”
When finally reaching the checkout line and being asked by the cashier “paper or plastic,” speak out loudly again and repeat over the phone as if to a wife or husband “paper or plastic?”
Then, after appearing to get a response, make a scowl on your face as if you disapprove of the answer given, regardless of what it was.
While shopping, try to pick out (to yourself, of course) what you consider the most impressive or unusual tattoo and the worst-looking hairpiece in the store.
Get down on your hands and knees in an aisle and act like you are searching for an item at the back of a bottom shelf while ranting in disgust to no one in particular “I can’t find anything here anymore, they keep changing everything.”
Although following any of the above suggestions could result in your being asked to leave the store — maybe even in handcuffs — you should at least be able to say afterwards you had a good time grocery shopping. And that’s definitely worth something.
Keith Barnes, a Wilson storyteller and author, is a reporter for the Johnstonian News. Email him at email@example.com.