Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dumb Bitch in Ikea Leads to Grocery Theft

Once upon a time, an old Girl Scout went grocery shopping in New Jersey. She was cranky because prior to arriving at the grocery store that evening, she had been helping a friend buy a sofa at Ikea Paramus when some dumb cow who lived in the Dakota monopolized the delivery desk for a half hour. Everyone knew she lived in the Dakota because when the clerk asked for her zip code she announced it was unnecessary to have the zip code since everyone knew where the Dakota was.

The Dakota Building mostly known for being John Lennon's house

It's true that most everyone on the West Side knows where the Dakota is, but it was a presumptuous, entitled remark. The old girl scout and her friend wondered why someone who could afford to live at the Dakota was so dim that she thought it was a good idea to make her apartment look like the Ikea Showroom except for the gorgeous woodwork. Perhaps her real furniture was being custom made from Rainforest Wood and the Ikea stuff was disposable. After waiting for more than 20 minutes while the dumb cow tried to buy a baby bed she saw someone returning, the friends caused a commotion with the manager and finally completed the sofa transaction so they could go to the grocery store.

The old girl scout was also grouchy because she hadn't been sleeping well due to financial distress as well as recently concluding that she was so contrary in the man department that she might as well get used to living without one. Fortunately, in New York City in the Twenty First Century, she could contemplate other options such as women and couples - but those were not thoughts for the grocery store in New Jersey being as there was no one attractive wandering around the aisles.

She was fixing to check out when she noticed that there were only two human checkers running registers and those lines were absurdly long. She much preferred working with a pleasant human than one of those automated, self-serve check-out stations. But if they were going to make it home before Rachel Maddow, she had to take her chances with the robot.

Here's where I became so astounded by my own behavior that I had to approach this story as if it were fiction.

There were three or four automated registers on either end of the check out zone which had a customer service booth in the middle. The two human checkers were also in the middle. Some poor schmuck ran from one end of the line of registers to the other monitoring the self-serve stations.

I started out by following instructions properly like the good girl scout I am. From the start, it was a hassle because every time I reached for an item in the cart, my handbag slipped from my shoulder to my elbow. You can't leave your handbag in the cart unattended because you never know when someone will swipe your dang wallet - or the whole handbag for that matter. Thieves are everywhere.

Despite my growing annoyance, I continued to follow instructions until the electronic voice told me to take an item off the conveyor belt. Apparently, said item - liquid laundry detergent - was too heavy, but where the fuck was I supposed to put it? Back in the cart, I guessed, because the grocery bags were ten feet away in the self-service bagging area. The electronic voice and I repeated this process with the bleach. I scan it and put it it on the belt; the electronic voice says take it off. So I took it off and put it back on again, and the voice says "take it off." So I took it off and put it on again and the voice says "Scan another item or press Done." The bleach went back in the cart, too, but I was dissatisfied with this solution because if half the stuff had to go back in the cart, I wouldn't be about to tell what was paid for and what wasn't. That's when I started wondering why anyone paid anything at all when there isn't a weight sensor on the belt to tell if the number of items swiped equals the number placed on the conveyor.

I scanned a couple of boxes of pasta. Then I scanned two of the five cans of tuna I got for 74 cents each. The machine got both of them, but the voice started squawking that I needed to wait for the attendant. So I looked around and I waited. Then I waited some more, and the voice says,"Scan another item or press Done." That's when I quit scanning the groceries and started swiping the groceries.

I tossed all five cans of tuna on the belt and scanned a few more things - but not the diet ginger ale because I figured on the voice telling me to take it off the belt. I swiped the soda.

There weren't more than 15 things left in the cart when I tried to pay for the Vidalia Onion. I had already gotten brazen and tucked the Rosh Hashanah greeting card in my hand bag and tossed a few more things down the belt. So when there was no fucking way to weigh the onion and put in the correct produce code, and the dang electronic voice said, "Scan another item or Press Done," I thought: Well Hell, I'm done.

Since I had given the machine my store card first thing so I'd get all the little discounts, Stop N Shop knew exactly who walked off with all the groceries. With the code on my card, the great computer in the sky has a record of everything I've bought in that store in addition to everything I've ever purchased anywhere using my debit card. The Great Computer in the Sky has all that information, has correlated it with my credit report and other demographic statistics and uses it to decide which ads to show me on facebook, for crying out loud. I was hoping they would hunt me down here at HQ so I could tell them to fuck off in person. But no - The Man has already run the numbers and determined that absorbing the cost of shoplifting at the Self-Serve Checker is still cheaper than paying the cashiers they laid off.

I will confess to being a little nervous leaving the store. I had not shoplifted anything since I was in 7th grade and took a pair of earrings from the Woolworth's, and I was consumed with remorse about that theft. Not this one. I put the bags in the back end of the Subaru and wondered exactly how many more items were in my car than on the receipt and slammed the hatchback shut.

On the way back to the city, my friend and I were speculating on exactly how much we were all authorized to steal. I figured next time, I'd rather steal a roast than a couple of cans of tuna, a greeting card, shoe laces, a box of whole wheat Rotini and some Diet Gingerale.

When I told my mother the next morning, she pointed out that there were probably folks watching on camera from the office betting on how much I'd finally take. They don't give a shit because The Man has fucked them over too.

I blame Dick Cheney. When did we become a culture of No Accountability? I'll blame G. Gordon Liddy, too.

Notably, there are always human checkers at Trader Joe's. Maybe that's because Trader Joe knows that the stoners who shop there regularly would walk off with everything in the store if nobody was there to stop them. I hear Trader Joe separates out their garbage for the convenience of dumpster divers which means that the company is very familiar with the consumer behaviors of a certain demographic.

Freegans in action

I would sure as shit rather be a Freegan than some unimaginative cunt from the Dakota. Since I've become a righteous shoplifter, it's possible that when it's time to sell the apartment, I could wind up moving Menopausal Stoners World Headquarters to a Yurt in Vermont.

As it happens, Velvet met a fellow last summer when he was out in the Tetons going to NOLS who lived in a yurt in Vermont when he wasn't at Bard College at Simon's Rock. Simon's Rock is a college for kids who graduate from High School early and is a notorious stoner school, I'm told. This young fellow, also a freegan, was an expert on all kinds of mushrooms and knew tons about organic farming. That's probably why he had been approached to work with some medicinal weed growers in Vermont.

I'm thinking that's a fine choice for my next career.

Here's Velvet and his buddy somewhere in Wind River Wilderness


Gail said...

Hi there-

Great, great share!! Skipp is diligent at those "check yourself out" computer voice things. It took forever though, so he stopped using it, I,like you would have just put stuff in the bags. And Skipp slid some items on down without any cost as well. :-)

Love you

Lou said...

Those automated check outs sound freakin' frustrating. We don't have them in NZ so I have yet to experience the joy.

emily said...

I regularly shoplift from the self check. I punch in codes for regular produce when I'm buying organic, small avocados when I've got jumbo, and when the machine asks me "how many," I always answer 1, regardless of whether I have 1 or 2 or 5 or 10 in the cart. Hubster thinks it's unethical. I think it beats the hell out of clipping coupons.

PENolan said...

I swear - they have already figured pilfering into the price of the food you purchased. So far, this straw poll shows the only person who never did it lives in New Zealand. Just you wait, Lou.

dissed said...

Honestly, the self-checkers won't allow you to be honest. I've tried. While you're attempting to appease them, they continue to bleat stupid instructions that have nothing to do with anything. Besides that, it takes at least twice as long as using a human checker. For a while, the local Kroger tried to insist that late-night shoppers use the self-checkout. We retaliated by screwing up so badly, they had to call humans to the line. This increased the wait time to 4x rather than 2x, which mean they were losing even more money and customers. The last time Kroger tried to insist that I use the automated checker, I suggested that I would prefer to leave the groceries with them and shop elsewhere. They relented and even called a FRESH NEW HUMAN CHECKER to the front of the store to open a register. And you know, that's all we ever really wanted.

Comrade Kevin said...

Welcome to zero sum game world, where anything I have comes at your expense. *shakes head*

intelliwench said...

I called Kroger to complain about their self-checkout stands, but wasn't patient enough to wait through the automated voice directory.

(Hooray for Farmers' Markets!)

PENolan said...

Farmers' markets rule for many reasons - as long as the produce is really from local farmers and not South America like the stand some goofball set up at the Friday market down the block.

Comrade - there is lots to shake your head about, but you should be thinking of fun in DC

Dissed, my mom was glad to hear they got you a human. She's appalled by society these days.

JD said...

"She was fixing to check out..."
You can take an old girl scout out of the South, but....

PENolan said...

JD, it's so ingrained that I don't even realize I talk that way until I have to spell something so one of these Yankees can understand what I'm saying.

Connecticut Man1 said...

I hate the self-checkouts. I don't use them so I can be sure they keep some humans working. Also, I leave my cart lying around in the parking lot so they have to have another human working to collect them.

PENolan said...

Grocery stores didn't have cart issues in the parking lots when clerks bagged the groceries and put them in your car. I suppose I'm showing my age again

Isabella said...

I once left my cart in the parking lot and an old man, a customer, made me cry (inside). I felt terrible. I was in hurry. I usually follow the rules and feel bad if I don't. I like your post because you don't seem to care. Born that way or wisdom? By the way I told that old man were to go and left my cart were it was...I do have pride you know.

PENolan said...

Isabella, I was too pissed off to care about being a Good Girl.

Have fun with your new blog. Looks like you're off to a great start.

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