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Cruising for Food at Ten Bucks a Bite

“Every woman in America seems to have gotten the personally addressed memo concerning very tight jeans and/or leggings.”

Sunday afternoon is the time I spend shopping for the week’s basic groceries, as well as for those items that have to be prepared from ingredients as fresh as can be obtained in the present day supermarkets. These present day supermarkets are, if you’ve been on the planet longer four decades, breathtaking in the kinds of packaged foods, fresh meat and seafood, and fresh produce.

In these cathedrals of commerce it seems that every month more and more items from throughout the world are on offer. Ghee! You can now buy ghee in jars. It is true that some special cheeses seem to be coming in at $40 per pound and that the one ounce package of sliced dried mandarin oranges works out to $65 a pound. These items are there if you are so drenched in disposable income that nary a thought of the price to value absurdity of it all can emerge to shimmer the surface of your seething cranium.

From blackberries air-dropped from Peru and pre-stuffed Turducken’s in the freezer rows to the “local sustainable organic” food items that are four times the price of their more plebeian corporate varieties, the sheer variety is staggering to someone who can remember when an orange in the toe of one’s Christmas stocking was a very hard to obtain and expensive fruit for that season.

Besides these somewhat obvious but always striking impressions of how America fares in its current position as the top of the food chain, three other things struck me as I went to three, yes three, different supermarkets on this fine Seattle afternoon in late Spring of the year of our Lord 2014.

First, as a friend remarked a couple of weeks ago, “Every woman in America seems to have gotten the personally addressed memo concerning very tight jeans and/or leggings. This includes the 90% of American women who, if caught dead in them, would die; and yet they too seem to have joined the Cult.”

Second, while a cooling long hot summer brings out a very fine parade of nubile ladies in various stages of revealing and “en déshabillé” clothing, it also reveals Winter’s crop of thoughtless, tasteless, and usually revolting fresh tattoos on areas of the body heretofore thought untattoable. One unfortunately memorable one seemed to be located at above the “tramp stamp” position and was a kind of winged velociraptor baby with a bloody beak breaking out of an egg. It gave one pause.

And then one walked on.

Third was the advent of a new parting phrase from supermarket cashiers. Usually they enquire as to the manner in which your day is going, something to which I invariably answer with an upbeat “Great. Thanks for asking” just to be polite. The ringing up of one’s groceries then takes place and one pays, as one pays for most things in today’s suddenly cashless society, with a debit card. Then the receipt whirrs out of the machine at the end, after it has transmitted the contents of your cart to the supermarket’s headquarters, the local police, and the host of three letter interested parties in the government, and the cashier usually just thanks you by name after glancing at the receipt.

Today this was as it always is but with the addition of the trenchant phrase, “Thanks for coming in.”

Three different cashiers at three different supermarkets on three different levels of retail demography — working class, middle class, and upper middle class — all saw fit to say the exact same phrase, “Thanks for coming in.”

An alien visitor to our planet might think that’s simply a coincidence of phrasing, but I take it to be the beginning of some bit of customer-stroking fluff that depraved retail consultants started telling their corporate customers in order to have something to justify their many, many thousands in annual consultant billings. They probably came up with some study that showed that of every 100 customers that you said “Thank you for coming in” 15% more came in again.

It’s bullshit of course, but retail and marketing in the food industry needs a constant stream of fresh bullshit if it is to keep its profit line up. Just as things done to transmogrify kale work as this year’s chipotle, so does “Thanks for coming in” operate as the new “Have a nice day.”

Listen for it at a supermarket near you.

Soon to be a major motion picture.

Alert the Authorities!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • GoneWithTheWind August 14, 2017, 4:28 PM

    I love shopping in supermarkets. My preferred time is 8 am on a Monday. Meat that didn’t sell that weekend is on sale and most of the other shoppers are at work or asleep. I like to search for new products and I’m always amazed at how much food is available in a modern supermarket. We are so lucky to live in a capitolist system.

  • JoeDaddy August 14, 2017, 4:49 PM

    GRAND! AGAIN!! The cottage industry on how to read a ‘thank you’ script for customers makes me want to puke. Just treat them the way you want to be treated at talked to. Don’t tell me how much you “appreciate” my coming in as you have one eye on the cell phone. Pffft!

  • Sam L. August 14, 2017, 5:02 PM

    What did that top say? I get the “In case we take” and the last word appears to be “away”, but what’s on that third line?

  • John A. Fleming August 14, 2017, 5:08 PM

    Leggings/yoga pants/tight jeans/etc on the 90% are the 21Cen man’s version of the sentiment expressed by Cherry Valance in Red River: “There are only two things more beautiful than a good gun—a Swiss watch or a woman from anywhere. You ever had a good Swiss watch?”

  • Bill Jones August 14, 2017, 5:10 PM

    I’ve been dropping little nuggests of wisdom on my 16 year old son.
    This weeks was that women speak 3 times as many words a day then men do.
    Men don’t really listen to woman so they largly talk to each other.
    I told him that you should assume if you’ve told one woman something, you’ve told them all.

    Hence the two week communication time across the entire US that women’s pants should be skin tight and feature a prominent Cameltoe.

  • ghostsniper August 14, 2017, 5:50 PM

    They’re making tight pants now with a very prominent cameltoe built in for the portly of the species, they deserve to be *out there* too ya know. XL, 2X, 3X, all the way up to 57X.

  • Casey Klahn August 14, 2017, 7:07 PM

    Hahaha. You guys are killing me.

    The T shirt says “breath,” I think. I hate the skinny legs jeans fashion, but tights are okay in the right place.

    John A. Fleming. Yes, I have had a good Swiss watch.

    Super markets, and the trend since the Nineties of super super markets, are a wonder of the first world. I noticed, however, a lot of merchandising calisthenics during the Obamination Era, when groceries went sky high. Never reported in the news, to my knowledge. I still recall how every economic bump was a mountainous event under Reagan or Bush(s).

  • Denny August 14, 2017, 7:27 PM

    “Thanks for coming in” is much better than “Have a nice day”. I never got used to being ordered around by sales clerks. It ruins my day.

  • Tom Hyland August 14, 2017, 8:51 PM

    The braindead corporate comment I despise is: “Did you find everything okay?” No…. I was wandering down aisle 12 when I began crying and shrieked aloud, “WHY AM I EVEN ALIVE??” Then…. suddenly… I found everything “OKAY.” Another unconscious inquiry is: “Did you find what you were looking for?” No, I will never find what I am looking for. If you thank them for asking they reply: “no problem.” Apparently “you’re welcome” doesn’t exist anymore. It has been replaced by “no problem.” As for the inkiness of everybody out there I saw the dumbest tattoo of all time. A lady of maybe 20 years old had a bright colorful impression on the back of her calf in length from the ankle up to the knee of Milhouse who is Bart Simpson’s best friend. His arms were raised and his mouth was agape as if he was crying out: “Lisa!” Do you know how long that’s going to be on the back of her leg? Milhouse has got to be the most vapid character on the Simpsons. If I had to choose I’d pick Nelson who is always pointing and laughing “Haw Haw” at everyone’s failures. The girl with the Milhouse tattoo deserves a big “Haw Haw.”

  • Jeffrey F August 15, 2017, 5:50 AM

    “Thanks for coming in” is much better than “Have a blessed day”which I always thought was so phony

  • BillH August 15, 2017, 7:38 AM

    One of the best things about having been hitched for 62 years is, I’ve spent very little time in super markets, or any other kind of food emporium. Time well spent doing other things.

  • Bunny August 15, 2017, 8:02 AM

    I love it when the checkers ask me if I found what I was looking for, because almost invariably I did not. For example, you have already deposited ten ingredients for cannelloni in your cart, but THEY HAVE NO CANNELONNI SHELLS. Now you have to make a trip to another store, putting a serious crimp in your time management plans. By the asking, I have an opportunity to do the polite venting. Not that the info ever makes it to management or anyone cares. I still feel better and with women, as you say, it is all about teh feelz.

  • Casey Klahn August 15, 2017, 8:26 AM

    OK, I do have a gripe. It’s when a cashier tells me to do something “real quick.” As a turn of phrase, it must mean that they don’t want to inconvenience me for too much time, but in actual English it is a command. I am sometimes tempted to remark that at my age, nothing happens “real quick.”

  • Speller August 15, 2017, 9:19 AM

    I like the ‘thanks for coming in’ sendoff. It may serve to remind the employee that although they work for the business, the business ultimately works for and depends on the customer’s patronage.

    Bunny, I went to a grocery store(large chain) on a Sunday morning to buy croissants and after searching and then asking the baking staff was told, almost with pride, that they hadn’t had their order of croissants filled for weeks!? I put my other ingredients back and told a manager about the incident adding that if I had to go to another store for the croissants then I would be buying everything else at the other store too. Next time I checked, they had croissants.
    My time and gas are worth something to me, even if it is meaningless to them.

  • ghostsniper August 15, 2017, 2:26 PM

    Yeah that one gets me too, when I thank someone, usually younger and in the service sector, and they say “no problem”. Lights my fuse and dumps ether on it. Ungrateful punks, deserve to be on their knees with putty knives scraping gum off the sidewalk.

  • Sam L. August 15, 2017, 5:19 PM

    Thanks, Casey!

  • Snakepit Kansas August 16, 2017, 6:23 AM

    Wow, what a bunch of old grumpy men and women we have become! I worked at a local grocery store as a teen in high school. Back then we were not allowed to wear tennis shoes and were required to wear a tie. We came up with dozens of nick names for regular customers that had remarkable traits. Dr. Death and Madame Mane were an elderly couple that were somewhat cranky the only air they breathed came through a burning cigarette. The Crisco Twins were sisters that infrequently washed their long dark hair and we caught them shoplifting Niquil once. Mr. Jones actually had a different last name, but I mistakenly addressed him as Mr. Jones once and he politely corrected me. I addressed him as Mr. Jones forevermore and he was a good sport about it. I could go on but if you read this far, you get the idea. I doubt if it is much different today and possible some young store workers have some nick names for some of us too.

    When someone tells me to have a blessed day, I happily take it at face value.

    I am in Lynnwood until noon today. Glad you got some rain here.

  • Snakepit Kansas August 16, 2017, 6:26 AM

    Wow, what a bunch of old grumpy men and women we have become! I worked at a local grocery store as a teen in high school. Back then we were not allowed to wear tennis shoes and were required to wear a tie. We came up with dozens of nick names for regular customers that had remarkable traits. Dr. Death and Madame Mane were an elderly couple that were somewhat cranky the only air they breathed came through a burning cigarette. The Crisco Twins were sisters that infrequently washed their long dark hair and we caught them shoplifting Niquil once. Mr. Jones actually had a different last name, but I mistakenly addressed him as Mr. Jones once and he politely corrected me. I addressed him as Mr. Jones forevermore and he was a good sport about it. I could go on but if you read this far, you get the idea. I doubt if it is much different today and possible some young store workers have some nick names for some of us too.

    When someone tells me to have a blessed day, I happily take it at face value.

    I am in Lynnwood until noon today. Glad you got some rain here.

  • Rick August 16, 2017, 12:56 PM

    So what would you have the cashiers say? Keeping in mind that they might serve several hundred different customers in a shift. Could they ad lib that many salutations even if they had to? You’re only hearing it from any cashier once, the poor cashier is forced to say it all day.

  • Chris August 21, 2017, 10:11 AM

    Pretty curmudgeonly!

    Maybe it’s because I’m not quite as experienced as some on this site (I haven’t quite hit 50 yet), but I appreciate the politeness and friendliness from folks at the market, regardless of the message. Most that participate, I find, are genuine in their wishes, just not too imaginative in the variety. I’m happy to return it with something in well-wishing back to them, and I find it’s usually well-received. I don’t know if it makes their day better, but it can’t hurt. I can imagine standing for 8 or 10 hours behind a cash register dealing with all kinds of idiots, and I know I would have a hard time with it. Probably would not last a day. So it doesn’t cost me much of anything to take their little greetings and leave something nice in return.

    Tattoos used to bother me. Then I realized it’s not my body. I don’t have to like what people do, and I am definitely like some of the commenters, wondering what the tattoo-ee was thinking, or what kind of mental issues they have. Though as long as I’m not paying for them, I don’t really care. I agree that some of this does indicate a greater degree of coarsening in society, but telling these people they are gross or nasty isn’t going to fix that.

  • Chris August 21, 2017, 10:12 AM

    I am also a fan of yoga pants, when used in an appropriate manner.