Overtom's weblog

SUPERMARKET MORONS  (14 february 2004)

In many modern cities it is possible to walk around for miles and hardly see any other buildings than shops.

Of course, these shops, are there to attract customers. But satisfying the customer is not philanthropy. Inevitably, the moment will come when the bill must be paid.

At a supermarket cash register, the realization that the bill must be paid seems to transform some people into brainless creatures that can barely be called human any more.

Some customers, for instance, have stashed away their money so thoroughly that one can only conclude they must have expected they wouldn't  have to pay at all. 

At Belgian supermarket GB, I once saw an Arab couple that had piled up goods worth a small fortune into two shopping trolleys. First, it took them ages to get it all out of the trolleys and present it before the cash register. But when the time had come to pay, they produced a credit card that this supermarket obviously did not accept. But instead of finally giving way to the rest of the customers, they started a discussion which was both endless and senseless -- as if they had not wasted enough time! I've heard some people say Arabs are natural born terrorists, a theory I was then fully prepared to believe.

Or what to think of customers who are convinced they know the price better than the cashier? Instead of just admitting they are stupid, they seem to mix up the supermarket with a marketplace and go on and on trying to prove they're right. No madam, sorry, you can haggle about prices all over the world, but not at a modern supermarket because there the price is programmed into the cash register!

Another species that ranks high on the list of annoying morons: the man who leaves the cashier alone while she's adding up the bill telling her he forgot something and will be back in a jiffy, and then staying away for ages, unjustly profiting from the fact that the thoughts of his fellow-customers can't kill him - or he would have to be carried back to the cash register in a coffin.

By the way, the ordeal of waiting is not only reserved to supermarkets. Smaller shops too have their occasional long queues of customers waiting to be helped. What to think of the woman who has been waiting for a quarter of an hour and when it's her turn appears not to know what she's going to buy, because she is heard to say "Well, what are we going to eat today?"

Or can you stay calm when you hear someone asking: "Mr greengrocer, is this a tasty apple?" Can anybody tell me why the supermarket can have such a stupefying impact on people? Are they so attached to their money that the mere thought that they are going to lose some of it, deprives them of any reason they may have had before?

To be honest, sometimes I don't understand I haven't become a terrorist myself.

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