I’m a terrible person. If Jennifer Aniston had married me (which would have been creepy because she doesn’t have a penis), when we finally divorced and I posed for photos with Angelina Jolie (not nearly as creepy because I’m pretty sure she does have a penis), she would have told the press in that whiny manner of hers that I have a sensitivity chip missing. Blog success came early, along with the accolades that often accompany this lowly profession (erm, if profession means something I do to while away the hours after I’ve completely emptied my bottle of Ketel One each morning) and, as a result, I’ve been
uninterested remiss in acknowledging and responding to some of the lovely awards that have been bestowed upon me by my fellow bloggers.
Remember when bath salts made your skin soft and smell faintly of something like lavender? Remember when the worst thing that could come as a result of using bath salts was a UTI? Remember when bath salts were merely part of one of those crappy, bath product gift baskets you bought your great Aunt Edna for Christmas because they were cheap, but looked expensive, plus you could pick them up at any pharmacy you passed on your way to visit her at the old folk’s home. And, let’s face it, Aunt Edna smelled like
urine mothballs – on a good day. Well, those days are gone, folks.
For years, experts have predicted that the zombie apocalypse would be brought about by a virus – one so powerful that it would render homo sapiens helpless to control their most savage impulses. Adrenaline rushing through their veins, the infected were predicted to exhibit an unusual level of endurance, lumbering at a slow, but terrifying and consistent, pace. As with all flus and viruses, young children and the elderly were expected to become the first casualties…mostly because they weren’t fast enough to outrun the newly-created zombies who would be thirsting for their blood. And just never tired.
But the virus never manifested itself. The zombie watchers got their panties all in a bunch when the H1N1 outbreak of 2009 petered out in mid-2010 – and no one went crazy and dined on their neighbors; they just died of respiratory failure. The books predicting the zombie apocalypse came and went out of vogue. Yeah, we all thought Pride, Prejudice and Zombies was a really clever idea. At least until it was followed by the release of another 8,000 dystopian novels about badass classic book characters/U.S. presidents/unusually attractive teens surviving a fictional zombie apocalypse. Sure, AMC’s The Walking Dead has been a big hit and World War Z is coming out next year, but let’s face it, zombies are quickly becoming passé. Like Paris Hilton and Robert Pattison, they are suffering from overexposure. Even my zombie-loving Hubby banned the undead from this year’s Christmas and Birthday Wish Lists after he received a zombie video game, several zombie-themed books, The Walking Dead board game, multiple zombie t-shirts, undead underwear and a birthday cake decorated with – you guessed it – glow-in-the-dark zombie figurines for the holidays last year.
Overall, the future of the zombie apocalypse didn’t look good. Zombies were destined to fall by the wayside just like vampires, werewolves and pathetically pale, whiny heroines from Washington. Until this week.
- Last Saturday, a stark naked, 31 year old Miami man, Rudy Eugene, brutally attacked an elderly homeless man in broad daylight and chewed off his face. When police attempted to approach the real-life Hannibal Lecter, he growled at them and resumed, erm, eating the transient, Ronald Poppo. Even after being shot once by police, Eugene continued his meal. In the end, the officer was forced to fire multiple shots, killing the nude man and finally ending his gruesome feast. Armando Aguilar of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police told NBC that close to 80% of the victim’s visage was missing and confirmed that Eugene was “actually swallowing pieces of the man’s face.” Poppo remains in critical condition and doctors anticipate that his recovery will be a lengthy process.
- A week prior, Dr. Zachary Bird, a Central Florida anesthesiologist was arrested on various charges including suspected DUI and battery on a police officer after the physician nearly sideswiped a state trooper’s vehicle, then failed a field sobriety test. Glassy-eyed and smelling of alcohol, Bird allegedly had at least $54,000 in cash on his person or in his car, two handguns, a vial of an unidentified liquid and prescription medications. But this is where the story starts to get crazy. After being cuffed and placed in the back of the squad car, the doctor went on a rampage, slamming his head repeatedly against the polycarbonate partition in the back of the car, causing his forehead to bleed profusely, screaming at the top of his lungs – over and over – for the officers to “stop stealing my money,” kicked the car door, and then, finally spit blood into the officers’ faces.
- The following day, a New Jersey man reportedly stabbed himself in the abdomen, neck and legs with a knife while police watched. As Wayne Carter proceeded to disembowel himself, officers pepper-sprayed him – with no effect whatsoever. In fact, Carter responded in grisly fashion by throwing his intestines and bits of flesh at the police officers. It finally took a SWAT team to subdue the man, who is hospitalized in critical condition.
So besides each of these heinous acts involving people who were clearly batshit crazy, what do they all have in common? Perseverance. Endurance beyond that of a triathlon winner. An inability to feel or be hindered by pain. Like a zombie, perhaps? But what caused their zombification?
Police have revealed that the Miami “Causeway Cannibal,” as the press has dubbed Rudy Eugene, allegedly favored a particular drug: bath salts. No, not the kind you gave Aunt Edna. You don’t have to worry that she’s going to chew your ear off the next time you see her – at least not literally. No, these bath salts, labeled with benign names like Lady Bubbles and Ivory Wave, are a fairly new, toxic drug that is available on the streets, but often sold in tobacco stores and head shops.
A dangerous cocktail of MDPV, mephedrone and pyrovalerone, the DEA views bath salts as a similar to mescaline or ephedrine, while dealers claim that the drug can cause users to experience LSD-like hallucinations…for example, a homeless man’s face suddenly looks and tastes like a Thanksgiving turkey. According to a Huffington Post article, the drug “can cause severe agitation, rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, paranoia and symptoms of psychosis, including hallucinations and delusions.” In addition, the drug user’s body overheats – making their blood boil, both literally and metaphorically, so it’s not uncommon for him or her to strip completely naked.
Whether or not Eugene exhibited super human strength during his gory rampage is still unknown, but he did manage to beat and partially strip the Ronald Poppo before he began tearing the flesh from his face, eventually leaving only the man’s goatee intact. Hey, I don’t like hair in my food, either. However, Poppo did have a history of drug use and alcoholism; perhaps he was intoxicated and, therefore, was an easy target. Regardless of whether or not the transient man put up a fight, it’s undeniable that the first shot police fired at Eugene struck him…and didn’t do a damn thing. The Causeway Cannibal wasn’t relinquishing his face tartare for anyone.
Likewise, Dr. Bird was allegedly intoxicated at the time of his brutal head-banging, blood-spitting tantrum, but on what? I’ve seen booze make people crazy, but this man was still wearing scrubs when he nearly sideswiped that squad car. Did he stop at a bar – after visiting his bank and the hospital pharmacy – and down two dozen shots of tequila before hopping into his BMW – all because he was allegedly on his way to help his friend, Fred, who’d been “fucking with the wrong people?” What was he going to help Fred do? I suspect he wasn’t going to pay off Fred’s mortgage or lend him money for the plastic surgery he’d been wanting. After all, Bird founded a plastic surgery clinic in the small Florida town of Weston. Fred could have had calf implants, a nose job and his eyes done for cost. Considering the weapons, cash, assorted pills and mysterious vial of liquid in the Doc’s possession at the time, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that alcohol probably wasn’t the only intoxicant in his system.
After all, the graphic video of Bird in the back of the police car shows him slamming his head hard against the partition six times in a row, opening up a large gash on his forehead. The physician then proceeded to smear his blood all over the partition (ick!) before demanding to be taken to the hospital, then chanting at the top of his lungs – ad nauseum - that the officers better stop stealing his money, sounding like an infuriated, overgrown toddler on a raging chocolate high. He wasn’t dazed. He appeared to feel no pain. He seemingly didn’t tire. Hell, I whacked my head on the corner of a kitchen cabinet yesterday, and I was whining like baby and cradling an icepack against my head for the next ten minutes. If I’d managed to bang my skull a couple more times in a row, I’d have been out cold.
The Deranged Disembowler, Wayne Carter managed to remove his own entrails and stab himself over 50 times, yet police couldn’t subdue him with pepper spray. In case you didn’t know, pepper spray is also used to deter grizzly bears from attacking! When the SWAT team has to be called in to restrain a man who reacts to pepper spray in the same way a model reacts to a spritz of Evian on her face, and who has severed an artery and whose guts are on the wrong side of his belly button…hello, he’s on something! Couple Carter’s unexplainable endurance with a history of mental illness and – surprise, surprise – drug use, and it’s suddenly not so inconceivable that a human being could tolerate that much pain and blood loss, yet still be able to lob his intestines across the room.
Thus, it appears that the zombie apocalypse is ON! The terrifying hallucinogenic properties of bath salts have been well-documented since 2010. Last year alone, the Centers for Disease Control reported over 1,000 calls concerning the use of this drug and there are dozens of stories of related deaths, but people continue to buy it. Reportedly, it’s inexpensive and users are willing to suffer bouts of extreme paranoia and horrifying visions in exchange for the temporary cocaine-like high. None of these warnings or tales of cannibalism seem to have any effect on sales. In fact, its use is spiraling upwards. Sure, these high-profile incidents will ensure that bath salts are banned at both the state and federal level nationwide, but that didn’t stop crystal meth from rotting the brains and teeth of idiots across the country.
Why? Because, let’s face it – some people are just stupid. When the CDC is forced to release a warning regarding the teen trend called the “Cinnamon Challenge,” in which kids are dared to swallow a teaspoon of powdered cinnamon without drinking any water, we’ve officially entered an age in which some people have become just too stupid to live. Not only do teens actually participate enthusiastically in the “Cinnamon Challenge,” there’s an entire website devoted to documenting their failures and successes. Do we need to post signs in schools that say, “Just Say ‘No!’ to Drinking Bleach” or “Setting Yourself on Fire Burns” or “Don’t Eat All The Nutmeg Because Your Mom Is Making A Pie Later”? Does the First Lady need to abandon the concept of getting kids to exercise more and focus instead on making sure they don’t eat the entire contents of their mother’s spice rack? Sadly, the answer to all these questions seems to be, “Yes!”
One of the latest bizarre news stories involves teens drinking hand sanitizer to get drunk. Have you ever tasted Purell? I’d rather eat bar-b-que chicken with bare hands that have been washed in a bucket of poo than risk licking a drop of sauce off fingers that have been recently sanitized in that foul tasting liquid. But teens will slug that crap down in order to buy themselves a brief high, followed by a trip to the emergency room for alcohol poisoning. At least getting drunk off of cough syrup, mouthwash or vanilla extract tasted good.
Now that our society has degraded itself to the point where people will go to these kind of lengths to get high, despite the chance that they will turn cannibalistic or rip their small intestines from their body, there’s little chance for a Robert Downey Jr. comeback. The combination of sheer stupidity and the availability of cheap drugs proven to make you batshit crazy is a lethal combination for humanity. And one for which the sane members of our society need to be prepared. So toss the cinnamon, the bath salts (for those with children stupid enough to eat colored, flavored Epsom salts – which will shut down their kidneys, btw), the Purell and the pepper spray, and buy yourself a hockey mask and a taser. Take up cross country or marathon running, and invest in a good pair of trainers because you’re going to have to be able to outrun and outlast these zombie motherfuckers. Consider befriending one of those wackadoos who believes the world’s going to end in December, and buy up all their guns, ammo, food and water for next to nothing when – on December 22nd – they realize that the Mayans just ran out of room on their calendar. Buy an RV. And a tanker filled with gasoline. The zombie horde is coming, my friends.
The undead may be slow, but they’re steady – and I don’t have to tell you who wins that race. Plus, these drug-addled zombies aren’t as unsophisticated as the virus-infected undead of lore. Nope, they have the manual dexterity to undress themselves (which makes horny men and Pentecostal preachers particularly vulnerable) and use weapons. These are the kind of zombies that make fearmongers the world over cream their panties. Glenn Beck? You listening? Zombies could get your fuckwit ass back on television – especially if you blame the homosexuals, Muslims and liberals for promoting a bath salt lovin’ agenda.
UPDATE: Another horrific incidence of cannibalism/possible zombie attack from Maryland, where a Morgan State University Student has just confessed to murdering his roommate, then eating the heart and brain. You can’t make this shit up! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/31/alexander-kinyua-kujoe-agyei-kodie-ate-brain-heart-roommate-maryland_n_1560149.html
UPDATE: The Jackson Memorial Foundation has set up a fund to assist Ronald Poppo in his recovery, which experts in facial reconstruction have said will include lengthy treatment, staged reconstruction, and psychological care. Donations can be made by check or online at jmf.org. Please do what you can to help this homeless man, believed dead to his family for nearly 30 years, obtain the care that he desperately needs. Thanks!
UPDATE: International fugitive and Canadian porn actor, Luka Rocco Magnotta, is being sought in connection with the grisly murder and dismemberment of Chinese student Jun Lin, whose body parts were mailed to the offices of Canadian political parties last week. Evidence of Magnotta’s alleged involvement includes a horrifying and graphic video depicting a naked and bound man being stabbed with an ice pick, decapitated, dismembered and sexually assaulted. This shit ain’t funny anymore! http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jun/02/canada-body-parts-victim-chinese
UPDATE: Zhang Yongming, known in China as the “Cannibal Monster” was arrested two weeks ago in connection with the murder and dismemberment of at least 20 people in the Yunnan province. Yongming allegedly sold the human flesh as meat and also served the remains to his dog. Authorities found human eyeballs in wine bottles and flesh was hanging from Yongming’s ceiling. This is getting weirder and weirder, folks.
UPDATE: A Swedish man has been accused of cutting his wife’s lips off and eating them. Reportedly, the man suspected that his wife was having an affair and ate her lips in order to ensure that they couldn’t be reattached. (Right, dude! You couldn’t just flush her pucker down the toilet?” Though the man’s name has not yet been released, it is reported that he is a former employee of the Karolinska Institutet, a Swedish medical university. Readers, are your doors locked?
This is a humor blog, but it’s important to remember that real people were involved in the events that I described in this post. Please take a moment to say a prayer or send some positive energy to the friends and family mourning Rudy Eugene; to Ronald Poppo and his loved ones; and to Wayne Carter and his family. As far as Dr. Zachary Bird is concerned – as a physician, that douchebag knows better and I hope some big ol’ queen makes him her bitch in prison.
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There are certain professions that have earned public scorn over the years – and rightfully so. Deep down, we all hate lawyers, realtors, drug-peddling doctors, used car salesmen, mimes, politicians, the talking heads at Fox News, mortgage bankers, and those bitches who work in a high-end retail stores for ten bucks an hour, but still look down their noses at you when you walk in wearing frayed jeans and flip flops. Having been an attorney and a realtor, I’m a bit of an expert in the field of despicable professions and, hence, I’d like to add one more to the list: grocery store cashiers, hereinafter referred to as “cashiers.”
Before I get into the nitty gritty of why these seemingly innocuous people who merely slide food across a barcode scanner thousands upon thousands of time a day should be lumped in with the scum of the world, it’s essential to understand why we hate people who are employed in legitimate, yet contemptible, professions.
Attorneys have long topped the list of most despised people in the professional world. After all, it was Shakespeare who wrote, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” But what it is about the men and women whom we also refer to as counselors that irritates people more than Gilbert Gottfried’s voice? Is it because we perceive them as dishonest? Is it the scandalous fees they charge for services billed in six minute increments? Is it because they act like they were born with an encyclopedic knowledge of everything in the entire world and the rest of us weren’t? More likely, it’s because they pepper their conversations with words like hereinafter and quid pro quo. I know, I know – I’m the absolute worst offender. I did say I was an expert in this field. In fact, I have an encyclopedic knowledge about it…and a few other things.
Realtors – talk about wolves in sheep’s clothing. Dressed to the nines, they’ll drive you around in a glossy Mercedes or Lexus, show you the home of your dreams, buy you lunch if you’re lucky and conveniently forget to mention that the shambling building next door to your new place is a half-way house; that the odor you smell is not the realtor’s fart as she claims, but the nearby landfill; and that US Airways’ flight path passes directly over your house – and will rattle your windows, send the fragile salt and pepper shaker collection your grandmother left you crashing to the floor and cause you to miss half the punch lines when you watch The Big Bang Theory.
Physicians are one of the only professionals who are regularly rewarded for being mistaken. Thus, we dislike them because they keep their exorbitant fees – even when they misdiagnose us. Hell, if Dr. Gregory House was a real doctor and not a television character, I’d avoid the dude like the plague – even if I had the plague. He spends the first 50 minutes of each show being wrong. If an attorney was wrong that often, they’d be disbarred, forced to watch every episode of Matlock at gunpoint, drawn and quartered, then their body parts would be displayed on spikes outside the courthouse. Granted, I might survive if I let House treat me, but before he cured me I would likely: (1) bleed out my eyes; (2) have my head shaved for unnecessary brain surgery; (3) be accused of infidelity with a monkey in a foreign country; (4) suffer through at least one round of chemo; (5) become so jaundiced that House begins to call me “banana head”; (6) have my home illegally rifled through by Chase and Foreman looking for an “environmental” cause for my illness, but the pervs are really just sniffing my panties; (7) be prescribed high doses of steroids so that my face bloats up and House begins calling me “spaghetti squash head” instead; (8) have a kidney, my appendix and gall bladder removed; and (9) tell House to fuck off, at which point he’d refuse to treat me, so I’d stomp out of the hospital, my bare, yellow butt on display to the world as my flimsy gown flaps in the wind. The following day, the nurse practitioner at the walk-in clinic would correctly diagnose me with the common cold, but I’d die anyway because my immune system would be shot from the chemo I didn’t need in the first place. So that’s why people hate doctors. That and the fact that they’re just so damned smug.
Mimes offer a unique reason for our loathing – they’re just so annoying. Yeah, we get it. You don’t talk, and yet you’re communicating with us. Sort of. Whoopdee doo. Most deaf people don’t talk either, but I don’t pay them for keeping their mouths shut. You don’t see them out in the park with a jar in front of them, signing to me a plea for my spare change with their rapidly moving fingers. And they don’t feel the need to paint up their faces like an effeminate goth to make sure I know that they aren’t going to talk to me. And what’s up with you guys getting stuck in clear boxes? What’s wrong with you? I’ve never been stuck in clear box. How stupid can you be? Maybe if you got a tan, ditched the striped shirt and the beret, and used your words, the people manufacturing the clear boxes would stop trying to capture you.
Now that you have a general understanding of the reasons we abhor those employed in certain occupations, I again suggest that we add cashiers to the list. Why, you ask? They’re underpaid, forced to stand on their feet all day, and are often completely ignored by grocery store patrons – we should feel sorry for them, you say. I don’t think so. I agree that cashiers have a fairly menial job. It’s repetitive. It’s boring. There’s only so many times they can say, “So, did you find everything you were looking for today?” without gritting they’re teeth and suppressing the desire to jump across the register and rip our heads off. Still, when employed in profession so simple that you could, potentially, do it in your sleep, it really chaps my ass when cashiers do it poorly. And when it comes down to it, cashiers are as annoying as mimes, incompetent as doctors and deceptive as attorneys.
Example 1: Magazine Browsing
If you read my earlier post, Salman Rushdie Will Never Write For Cosmo, then you know that when it comes to magazines, any whorish rag with the skinny on Lindsay Lohan’s recently inflated face or the nookie that got Snookie knocked up will leave the grocery store with me and end up in my bed later that night. And I know I’m not the only one. By 2011, People was ranked the 11th most popular magazine in the country and had a U.S. circulation of over 3.5 million readers per issue, with US Weekly trailing behind with a U.S. circulation of over 2 million per week. Despite this fact, any cashier I get – brand new, experienced, young, old, male, female, black, white, mime – behaves as though no one has ever purchased a single trash mags from them. Ever. In fact, they act as though they have never seen one of these magazines before. It’s as if by buying a copy of Life and Style, I’ve opened up an entirely new world of pop culture for them. Suddenly, Earth is populated by starlets and boy bands and plastic surgery and reality television, when before it was a dull gray place, infested with dusty books to be read by candlelight.
Let’s take my most recent visit to Publix. I carefully place my four magazines on top of my BOGO cans of corn and watch patiently as they make their way down the conveyer belt, towards the mechanically moving arm of an experienced, middle-aged cashier I recognize from several previous visits. She slides my ice cream across the glass plate without even looking. Then my sour cream. A gallon of milk. Four boxes of Skittles. A bottle of KY Intense. Okay, three bottles of KY Intense. Not once does she pause. Not once does she look at me. In fact, her eyes have the same glazed look to them that I know mine take on during an episode of The View. Then her fingers graze the cover of Us Weekly and it’s as though she’s received an electric shock. Suddenly, she’s pert and interested. Instead of sliding the magazine across the glass, she holds it up and pores over the cover intently.
“Who’s this?” she asks, turning the front of the cover towards me and pointing at the raven-haired woman with her arms wrapped around her three younger girls on the cover, directly under the headline “Scary Skinny Demi Moore To Divorce Ashton Kutcher.
Hmm. That seems self-explanatory. “Demi Moore,” I say.
“Oh. She’s pretty, “ she responds, “but a little on the scrawny side, dontcha think?”
Really? Was it the photo of her drinking straw thin arms or the headline proclaiming her “Scary Skinny” that gave Demi’s emaciated figure away? “Umm. Yeah. I guess it’s all the stress from the divorce.” I desperately want to jab at the words on the cover and say, through gritted teeth, “It says, right here, that she’s getting divorced. It’s all in the headline. Everything you need to know is right here in one convenient location.”
A look of concern crosses her lined face. She shakes her head in disappointment. “She’s getting divorced? What a shame. Kids just don’t know how to stay married these days. I hope it won’t get dragged out. It’s so hard on children. She does have children, doesn’t she?”
“Yeah. Three.” I stare at her hard. Maybe she’s illiterate. But don’t you have to be able to read to get a job as a cashier? I mean, how do you fill out your application or read coupons? Just ring up the fucking magazine, I think, wishing I could reach across the space between us and perform a Vulcan mind meld on her.
“I wonder if she’s got a pre-nup. I sure do hope she gets to keep her kids.” She presses her lips together and furrows her brow, shaking her bleached-blonde do again. “She definitely needs to eat though. Can’t keep your energy up if you don’t eat. Poor thing.” You’d think she was talking about her neighbor or some lady she knows from church. Two seconds ago, she didn’t know who Demi Moore was and now she’s worried about the star’s weight and whether or not she’ll get custody of the kids. Finally, she drags the cover along the glass plate and I hear a satisfying beep come from the register. One down, three to go.
Of course, not all cashiers have been living in the Dark Ages, which makes buying my rags an even more arduous process as some of these men and women insist on discussing – ad nauseum (yes, I realize that is another obnoxious lawyer word) – their opinions about everyone on the cover. If I had a dime for every time a cashier said to me: “Insert Female Celebrity Name Here is one hot mess!” or “Now Insert Male Celebrity Name Here is all that and a bag of chips,” I’d have enough money to buy Time, Inc. and make the editors of People report all the celebrity news to me first – in person – while a masseuse rubs my feet as I lounge by my infinity pool situated behind my massive, ocean-front estate.
These are the same cashiers who possess the audacity to actually thumb through the magazine while I stand there. Waiting. Hello – that’s my magazine you are bending and creasing and (ugh!) licking your fingers in order to make the pages turn more easily. I am cautious to select virgin periodicals. If the cover is curling or has the tiniest of rips, I choose another one – usually from the back of the stack. And after watching a cashier rub her saliva all over the corners of my magazine, all I want to do is pluck it out of her fingers, toss it in the closest garbage bin and select another pristine copy to take home with me. To be clear, no one pops my magazines’ cherries but me. I love the crisp sound of the pages and the creaking of the stapled binding as I crack my copy open for the very first time. If I want a germy, beat-up-like-you-sassed-back-Chris-Brown copy of Us Weekly, I’ll steal it from my doctor’s office like everyone else.
Annoyance factor: 8. Incompetence: 3. Deceitfulness: 5 (By mangling my magazines, they are encouraging me to steal from the doctor’s office).
Example 2: Bagging Is Not A City In China
I have never been a cashier at a grocery store, nor have I ever bagged groceries professionally. However, I used to work in retail and there are basic rules to bagging any product that are just common sense. Cold, wet items are to be bagged with other cold, wet items. Canned items with canned items. Produce with produce. Heavy items shouldn’t be bagged with soft, squishy items.
For the record, I am an awesome grocery cart loader and unloader. As I shop, I cluster dairy items together, canned and boxed items together, vegetables and fruit together, frozen items together and meats together. I unload them in the same way to make bagging my groceries as idiot proof as possible. In fact, it surprises me that not a single cashier has ever commented on this fact. I know other shoppers don’t unload as carefully as I do. I’ve seen how they plop a package of hamburger meat right on top of a box of laundry detergent or mix canned foods in with their dairy. I take the extra time to make the bagging of my groceries as easy and simple for the cashier as possible. Still, week after week, I see bagged combinations such as this:
1) Sweating gallon of Breyer’s ice cream next to my mother’s Valentine’s Day card – make that stuck to my mother’s Valentine’s Day card
2) Gimongous cans of stewed tomatoes on top of my Pepperidge Farms loaf of bread
3) My untainted copy of People literally wrapped around a quart of milk like a Snuggie
4) Oozing package of raw chicken on top of celery because who doesn’t like a little salmonella while dieting
5) All fifty cans of cat food in a single, bag weighing approximately 18 pounds
6) Four bottles of relatively expensive pinot grigio in a single plastic bag – with a hole in the bottom of it that won’t break open until I pull the bag out of the trunk when I get home
7) Light bulbs sandwiched between two jugs of Ocean Spray cranberry juice
8) Can of Raid roach spray packed with fresh produce (I rarely buy organic, so my veggies already have enough insecticide on them already, thank you very much!)
9) Bakery department cake thrown into a bag sideways
10) Ripped open bag of baby carrots (the cashier actually picked up the few loose pieces that had found their way onto the conveyor belt and threw them into the grocery bag), two basil plants and a bottle of bleach
Are cashiers not trained in the fine art of bagging? I mean, if you are skilled enough to remember the codes for hundreds of produce items, shouldn’t you have figured out that a gallon of milk is fairly heavy and, that while bread may have iron in it, it isn’t actually made of iron and, therefore, should not be placed beneath the milk? Perhaps they aren’t tutored in this skill because it’s assumed that every idiot knows the basics of bagging. Last I checked, a degree in physics isn’t required to obtain a cashier position, so bagging can’t possibly be all that difficult. After all, I know how to bag properly and I’ve never even studied physics. Heck, I haven’t even mastered the metric system and I’m still a little fuzzy when it comes to multiplying numbers above 10.
Annoyance factor: 10. Incompetence: 10. Deceitfulness: 3 (Now they are stealing from me because I have to return to the store to repurchase items that were smashed or contaminated).
Example 3: What Knot To Do
Plastic bags are not sneaker laces. Do not – I repeat, do not – tie the handles of my plastic grocery bags into little knots to prevent items from falling out. Why? First, if you didn’t overfill the bags in the first place, you wouldn’t need to knot them. Second, do you have any idea how long it takes to untie 17 knots in 17 plastic bags – all of which were tightened into locks by the extreme weight of their contents? For-fucking-ever.
Third, after I struggle to untie the first few bags, I become frustrated and begin ripping the bags open. This is a bad thing because I actually reuse my plastic bags to dispose of kitty poo and litter each night. When you force me to throw away over a dozen bags that could have been recycled as poo holders, it makes me want to take the torn bags back to the store, place all of them over your head and tie them into a big knot. Have fun getting it untied in time. Fourth, by tying the handles into knots, you negate the purpose of the handle – to be large enough for me to utilize them as a carrying device. How can I slide the handles of the bags up and down the length of my forearms so that I can minimize the number of trips between my car and my kitchen when you’ve created new handles that are effectively the size of the eye of a needle? I am not Demi Moore and, thus, my arms are not that skinny.
Annoyance factor: 7. Incompetence: 6. Deceitfulness: 5 (Clearly, they are also working for the manufacturers of small animal poo bags and this is why they knot my plastic bags up so that they can’t be utilized for kitty poo disposal purposes).
Example 4: Forgotten Coupons
I am not a coupon clipper. Hence, on the rare occasion when I do manage to make it to the store with a coupon and present said coupon to a cashier, along with the appropriate item, I expect to actually have the amount indicated on the front of the coupon deducted from my bill. It’s a proud moment for me. I remembered to bring a coupon to the store. I can’t wait to see that small portion of a dollar with a minus sign in front of it on my receipt. I shouldn’t have to ask, “Did you remember my coupon?” Nor should I have to remind the cashier to remove coupons from the tops of cans or the sides of boxes. It’s his or her job. And when the cashier forgets to ring up my coupon, being sent to the front desk to stand behind a long line of lottery ticket and cigarette buyers in order to collect my 35 cents really pisses me off. Waiting in line is right up there on my list of favorite things to do, along with peeling the cover of my magazine off a wet milk carton, and eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on bread that’s been squashed to the height and width of a kid’s plastic ruler.
Annoyance factor: 5. Incompetence: 10. Deceitfulness: 5 (Do you really think that they truly forgetto use those coupons or are they just saving them for themselves or cheating the poor consumers as a whole?)
The other day, I was shopping at Walmart and, low and behold, I encountered an amazing cashier. She didn’t flip through my magazines or waste precious minutes lamenting the loss of Whitney Houston. Everything was bagged perfectly. I watched in amazement as she grouped my cheeses and dairy together in one bag, deli meats in another and vegetables in yet a third. I didn’t strain my back lifting the bags filled with cans because she didn’t overfill them. My wine bottles were first placed in slim brown bags before being double bagged and handed to me so that I could set them in the child seat portion of the grocery cart. Not a single plastic bag was knotted – and she removed the $1 off coupons from my wine bottles without me reminding her and successfully subtracted the appropriate amount from my total. I could swear that the exposed beams above me opened up to reveal angels singing a beautiful melody and a golden beam of light shone down upon this plump woman wearing a blue Walmart vest.
“Wow!” I cried. “You really know how to bag. I’m so impressed. Do you have any idea how many cashiers can’t bag for shit?” It was ridiculous, really. It was like complimenting someone for breathing well or not falling down while walking in sneakers.
The cashier smiled and nodded her head. She’d clearly been commended for her skills before. “I know,” she replied. “I try to teach the new ones, but they’re just clueless. But you made it real easy too – the way you grouped your groceries together and all.”
I knew it. Finally, the fact that I have mastered the art of unloading had been acknowledged. I cluster correctly. Cold with cold. Meat with meat. Produce with produce. And someone appreciated it. But most importantly, I’d found my perfect cashier – the Atticus Finch of attorneys, the Marcus Welby, M.D. of physicians, the absolutely nobody of mimes – and I needed to know more. Without hesitation, I asked, “Can I get a copy of your work schedule?” as I carefully jotted down the name on her badge – Shirley. She nodded her head and retrieved a Xeroxed copy from a stack at least an inch thick beneath the counter. Shirley had obviously been asked for her hours before. I tucked the piece of paper into my purse, still marveling aloud at how easy it would be to unload my husband’s favorite Yoplait yogurts directly into the fridge since she’d bagged them all together.
“You certainly have an eye for detail,” Shirley observed with a smile. “What do you do?”
“Oh, I used to be a –“ I replied, stopping myself just before I uttered the word, lawyer. Shirley wouldn’t understand that I had been to attorneys what she was to cashiers – a reason not to hate an entire profession. As a lawyer, I hadn’t cheated my clients or lied…much (I was a contract attorney – it’s called bluffing when utilized in the art of negotiation). In fact, I’d worked for the government, which meant the average grocery store manager earned a hell of a lot more than I did in a year. Finally, I grinned back at her and said firmly, “I’m a writer. I’ve got a blog.” Now there’s an honorable profession.
If you aren’t sick of reading by now, here’s the link about Denise Farley’s win as a champion Ohio bagger.