Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Publix Embarrassment

I left my shopping cart in the Publix parking lot last night. They don’t have cart corrals. I left it right there. In the parking lot.

I am so embarrassed.

I didn’t want to do it.

I was under the influence of that dreadful condition… being nice.

Let me explain.

First of all, to understand how completely hypocritical I felt, you have to read my rant: Return Your Cart Here ~ or ~ People Irritate Me – Chapter2. I have publicly scolded people for their inconsiderate cart abandonment.

There I was, in the Publix parking lot. I’d just finished my little bit of shopping. Now, since you know I’m all about trying to be greener I was feeling rather proud of myself because I’d even remembered to grab my canvas bags out of the truck. This, in itself, was not an easy task. They were in the covered bed of the truck when I got to the store. They’d slid all the way up and I had to climb up in the truck. I was on my way home from work so I was wearing a skirt and heels. And it was windy. I had to boost myself up on the rather high tailgate (I’m short), then scoootch back, then lean back while holding my skirt down with one hand and reaching for the bags with the other.

Picture it.

Oh, hell, don’t bother.

Here’s what it looked like:

See? Not easy.

I went in and I looked at the organic produce. I didn’t need any of the produce they had that was organic but I did look at it. I did buy a non-organic cucumber because I like a cucumber garnish for my Hendricks martinis and I usually have cucumber as one of my snacks. I’m wandering, aren’t I? Do you see what’s happening here? I hate being hypocritical and I was and I’m just delaying the inevitable confession of my hypocrisy. And yes, it is inevitable. I’m a recovering Catholic and once you’ve learned how to confess you just can’t stop yourself.

I put the few things I needed in my cart, including my non-recombinant bovine growth hormone milk. I didn’t buy the organic milk. I was going to because that was my plan and I do like a good plan. They just didn’t have it in gallon size containers. More containers = less green, right? Plus, while I was blocking up the aisle, debating the merits of organic plus more packaging versus non-organic with less packaging, I noticed something in small print on the non-organic, Publix brand milk: No bovine growth hormones. Seriously. Store-brand milk with no hormones! Score! I’m still planning on trying some organic milk, it’s just going to have to wait until I can buy it a gallon at a time.

I was so pleased to see that the lady in front of me in the check-out line was also using canvas bags. I think the lady behind us was feeling guilty. She didn’t have canvas.

Usually, at Publix, a bagger person brings your groceries to your car and then returns the cart to the store. This eliminates the whole “return your cart” issue. Last night, there wasn’t a bagger person available so I got to bag my own groceries. Really, I’d prefer to bag them myself all the time because, well, because, um. Look. It’s like this. I know the best way to bag my groceries. I do.


I was just about to detail my OCD bagging tendencies but I think we all know that I’m just trying to keep from telling about how and why I left my cart in the parking lot. Besides, that can be a fun little story for another day.


I bagged my own groceries and wheeled my cart out to the truck. I was just getting ready to walk back to the store to return my cart when some (probably very nice) lady in a mini-van pulled up to my parking spot. It was a nice spot. It was pretty close to the store and the weather was getting worse and I could see why she’d want my spot. She rolled down her window, leaned out and said, “I’ll return that cart for you.”

“Great! Thanks!” I said, on the outside.

But, but, I can’t leave the cart in the parking lot! I just can’t!” I said, on the inside.

I really had a problem with this. Yes, I know. I’m a dork but let me explain.

She would know that she’d taken responsibility for the cart. I’d know that she was taking responsibility for the cart. (Of course, I was planning on watching her in my rear view mirror and if she didn’t take that cart in, I was going to drive back around and give her a good scolding.) It’s just that anyone else watching would not know that Mini-van Mom and I had an agreement about the care and returning of the cart. It’s not that I care (that much) about what people think about me, either. It’s that someone watching might not be a regular returner. Seeing another person not returning their cart could nudge them right off the return-the-cart fence onto the “everybody leaves their cart” side.


Still, what was I supposed to do? I had to leave the cart. There just wasn’t another good solution. I carefully positioned the cart so it wouldn’t roll into someone’s car and I got into the truck. Just as I was about to back up, a bagger person walked by. He was heading back to the store. He saw and retrieved my cart.


You have no idea. Well, if you read my rant, you have an idea but, really, the actual shame was horrible.

He’ll probably not remember the inconsiderate woman in the big, honkin’, gas-guzzling truck who just lazily (not really!) left her cart in the lot. My concern was more that it might have colored his whole customer attitude for the rest of the evening. The ripple effect. He might have been testy with customers for the rest of the evening because his perception of the customer had been unjustifiably tainted by my cart abandonment.


I should probably get a hobby.


Anonymous said...

1. I too can bag my own groceries better than the 15-year-old-minimum-wage-earning-acne-prone-high-schooler who sees nothing wrong with putting my bread in the same bag as all my canned goods.

2. I buy the store brand hormone free milk because organic milk is really darn expensive! Seriously - $5.00 a gallon! I buy at least four gallons of milk at a time, and my children leak at least a few dollars worth down their fronts on a daily basis.

3. Did the lady in the mini-van have children? I have actually sought out store managers and asked them to have their buggy-retreival technicians leave one or two carts in the corals. Babe #1 does not understand the merits of not running in traffic, and Babe #2 is not so steady on her feet. There is nothing worse than trying to drag the two of them into the store (from the back of the parking lot, because mommy could use the extra walking) and load them into a cart. I appreciate the stray carts!

Anonymous said...

I'll bet that the lady in the minivan walked over to cartguy and told him that she was going to get your cart for you!


There! Feel better? Have another martini...it'll make it all better!

BTW, the organic milk at Costco is packed in three 1/2 gallon containers and I think the last time that I bought it was sub $7. It tastes WAY better than "normal" milk too. I dunno, next time you're over here taste some and lemee know what you think! BTW also, I'm going to try and remember to bring white chili and beef stew (oxtail stew) with me on Friday if you chilluns are going to be there.......


Sgt said...

I thought maybe I was the only one who was OCD at the grocery store. Its so bad, my wife offers for me to stay home rather than deal with it.

She has no issue just tossing things into the cart with reckless abandon. I must put the items in based on optimizing the cart space. I will literally spend an extra few minutes to reorganize when I find I have something that will fit in some empty space that has since been covered.

This of course leads to the checkout line where it all pays off where I can place the items in peak "bagable" bundles on the belt.

If there is a bagger, I often just put the tip in the jar and ask them to just let me handle it since the cashier inevitably let the items plummet to the bagging area without concern.

I'm actually twitching just thinking about the experience now. I need help!

Oh, and those people that like to just leave their cart there, I've been known to stop the vehicle, get out and move it to behind them (assuming they have no reason to not walk the 20 ft to the return like having small children). After having scratches put in my Navigator because of idiots that let their carts blow across parking lots I don't mind being a bastard.

Ima Wurdibitsch said...

Ouch, Driving! $5 a gallon? As for mini-van lady, I didn't see kids with her but still... abandoned carts remain one of my big peeves.

Wormy, she didn't. :(
We are going to be there and I'd love to taste your soups/stews. I do Sam's Club instead of Costco (more convenient location) so I'll see what they have in the way of organic milk. I want organic skim for me and reduced fat for MrWurdi.

SGT, it's like we're grocery twins. I am particular about where in the cart the stuff goes. I also put it on the belt in a certain order and in a certain way (to minimize back strain for the cashier). I hope that putting the frozen stuff together, the refrigerator stuff together, non-foods, etc. will encourage the bagger to bag it that way. That rarely happens. I love when I get to bag my own.

MrWurdi got a huge chuckle one day when the bagger (attempting to be helpful) wanted to unload my cart for me. I, reluctantly, let him do it.

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Silver Moon said...

Hi Ima,

I just felt like leaving you a comment after reading your very detailed and hilarious blog post.

I am a bagger at Publix in middle Tennessee. I see people leave their carts out all of the time. It's usually not any hassle at all to get the extra carts (unless they're 6 stores down in the Pets-Mart parking lot!) I used to get irked at people who left their carts out, too... But after being a bagger for a while, I realized that most people are in a hurry, are old, are on the other side of a cart corral (with cars parked too close together to get through) or are just plain lazy, and that's ok too... After all, it is my job to retrieve these carts.

As a bagger, I sometimes am bringing in carts and someone will request I leave a cart for them, too. Just in case I'm being watched, I will usually wait for the person to come out of their car and wheel the cart right over to them so they can grab it. That way, people won't think I decided to ditch a cart because pushing 5 instead of 6 would be easier. ;)

Just to let you know... Not all baggers are 15-year-old-minimum-wage-earning-acne-prone-high-schoolers. A few of them are, but I'm actually out of high school, making a bit more than minimum wage, and have a relatively acne-free face.

If this ever happens to you again, what I would do is tell the approaching bagger: "Hey! I left that cart for this lady." And they will probably say "Ok" and walk away. Chances are anyone who is thinking you were lazy for leaving the cart there has thrown a cigarette or other piece of trash out the window between that time and the time you made this post.

I hope you continue to enjoy your time shopping at publix.

Barbie and Craig said...

HA! I just had to comment...I found your blog when I googled "is Publix milk organic?" and I laughed my head off reading it!

I am struggling with the organic milk vs. publix milk quesion... not so much for the packaging, but for the crap that inevitably goes into our bodies when we least expect it. Can't milk just be milk?!

Oh, and I ALWAYS forget my canvas bags when I go in...despite the "BRING YOUR BAGS, STUPID" sign at the front of the store. I have been known to turn around and go back to my car to get them, but it's rare.

Baby steps, right? :)

Thanks for the funny post!

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