shop elsewhere

Guess they'll be dismantling these things any day now...since they trust us so much...

One wryly fascinating aspect of achieving “seniority” is that my senses have become more adept at finding free entertainment.  Locating alternative sources of amusement  has become almost a necessity these days.  Daytime television remains abominable, cable TV is objectionally priced (probably by those same pirates who sell inkjet print cartridges) and the ransom one has to give up for seats to  professional sporting events is unconscionable. Also, our local news daily, though not unreasonably priced is but a shell of its former self. It is no longer a joy to read.

One amusing activity, I find, involves no equipment, no cover charge, no two drink minimum. The ‘game’ is simply watching folks attempt to sell ‘hokum.’

Generally, any search for folks involved in a caper or gambit begins with politicians, pundits, car dealers, telemarketers, or the old reliable: lawyers. More recently  it might involve  guys named ‘Armando’ who swear  both ‘on their mothers’ eyes’ and on late night TV that “you too can get filthy rich by buying my $495.00, GET RICH QUICK Seminar!”

Alas, add to the list (at least lately), the folks who run Kroger, the nation’s largest super market retailer. In communicating its new policy regarding Open-Carry, Kroger has recently been attempting to float the idea  that “…we trust our customers to do the responsible thing…”

The matter comes up because recently the Georgia Legislature*, a body whose collective IQ approaches 12,  passed an Open-Carry Everywhere Gun Law. The new ordinance makes it permissible for licensed firearms owners to take a gun to church; to take a gun into an operating room; to a theater, to a restaurant, to grocery stores and to any public place except the chambers of the legislature itself. The apparent thinking here (if one can call it thinking) is it more acceptable for the rest of us to get shot than it is for the idiots in the legislatures to get shot.)

Kroger is not the only retail entity to have to deal with the Open-Carry issue of late.  A short list also includes Starbucks, Target,  Jack-in-the-Box, and Chipotle among others. Of the group, Kroger is the only large retailer NOT to formally ask clients to refrain from carrying firearms inside. One can only surmise that Kroger believes shoppers should be secure in the fact that armed, would-be retail avengers, walking on Aisle 3 will protect us in case there is an attack by ISIS on Aisle 8, a ‘Coupon Mom’ uprising in Customer Service or the Return of ‘Pink Slime’ in the Meat Department.

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...an uncomfortable and creepy feelingFor the  past couple of years, I have done much of the family grocery shopping. I was ‘called out’ to “…see if you can do better yourself, Buster” after my latest kvetch regarding the ceaseless rising price of foodstuffs.

That first time, “the management” (as I call her behind her back) provided me with a grocery list, the store’s name and directions as to how to get there. I was not provided with a firearm. I was assured  the list, the Mapquest and cash for the groceries  was all I would need.  I chalk the omission of a firearm up to the fact that ‘the management’ is smarter than I am,  and she knew how stressful grocery shopping could be. She apparently also figured anyone dumb enough to take a gun into a grocery store might also be dumb enough to take matters into their own hands when he got stressed out, frustrated and bumfuzzled during the modern-day grocery shopping experience.

Turns out she was right. Grocery shopping can be a frustrating experience if only becasue it brings to mind  that it wasn’t that long ago you could feed a tribe of eight for what you now spend to feed three.   But there are other vexes too, ones that suggest that anyone who might be short tempered on a particular day should either not shop or leave their hair-trigger at home.  Take the chronology of significant events on my most recent sortie at the local supermarket:

11:00 – Things get off to a buggy start. Takes ten minutes to find even a single market buggy without one noisy, harder-to-push, floppy wheel. (One wonders if the buggy manufacturer doesn’t purposely make all of them this way?)

11:10 – Dismayed to find Ramen Noodles, heretofore always within easy reach at eye-level on Aisle 3, are now hidden on ‘you gotta bend over’ level on Aisle 37,  which must be a  half-mile away.  (Probably a prank pulled by a deranged, disgruntled stock clerk just to f*ck with the customers.)

11:15 –  Suddenly dawns on me that store management has removed the groovy old school Motown play-list from the overhead sound system and replaced it with Lawrence Welk polkas. Seriously!?

12:17 – Realize this week’s advertised “NEW LOW PRICE” price on almost every item is dramatically higher than last week’s regular price.

12:30 – Count at least six  people ahead of me in every checkout lanes.

12:32 – Patience is wearing thin. In an attempt the impossible: using the self-check-out machine.

12:40 – Have an epiphany. In the eternal battle of man vs machine, ‘the problem ain’t me this time.’ Self-checkout machines are just inherently evil, probably invented by Putin or Dick Cheney –and possessed by Satan. (It ‘s a damn good thing I don’t pack a weapon. Right now I might be tempted to see if self-check out machines are efing bulletproof!)

12:41 Disgusted. I get back into regular check out line–one with a human cashier!  Am now thirteenth in line.

1:30 – Checkout clerk stops the flow of items on conveyer belt to read the entire front page of my New York Times before she bags it.

1:33 – Cashier turns to page 6A to read the rest of front page story.

1:35 – Cashier proceeds to discuss what she’s read with Gloria, the cashier two lanes over.

1:45 – I fork over what seems like the rest of my life savings for today’s groceries. (I conclude that the pirates who sell printer ink cartridges are now selling food!)

2:15 Arrive at abode, still fuming about the previous few hours. Proceed to thank ‘the management’ not giving me a gun along with the grocery list. She looks at me incredulously and starts to ask what I mean when I said ‘Thanks for not giving me a gun along with the list.” She decides not to push for an answer as she says she used to me by now.

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Guess they'll be dismantling these things any day now... since they trust us so much...
Guess they’ll be dismantling these things any day now…
since they trust us so much…

Truth is, if I were shopping alongside members of the U.S. Army sharpshooters at the local Piggly-Wiggly, I’d have little problem with shoppers carrying sidearms. A higher truth is the prospect  of anonymous amateurs openly carrying firearms in a supermarket just gives me the “heebeegeebees.” It’s uncomfortable and creepy — even if the gun-toters are licensed. Hell, I don’t trust licensed drivers behind the wheel.  Erstwhile amateurs too quickly morph into “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.”

In recent days, Target, Starbucks, Chipotle, Jack-in-the Box and other retailers have dealt with the Open-Carry in a reasonable manner. Here’s the wording of the signs posted at Target:

“As you’ve likely seen in the media, there has been a debate about whether guests in communities that permit “open carry” should be allowed to bring firearms into Target stores. Our approach has always been to follow local laws, and of course, we will continue to do so. But starting today we will also respectfully request that guests not bring firearms to Target — even in communities where it is permitted by law…

This is a complicated issue, but it boils down to a simple belief: Bringing firearms to Target creates an environment that is at odds with the family-friendly shopping and work experience we strive to create.”

In their response to Mothers Demand Action, Kroger says no to any Target-like verbiage, sign or sentiment. Their response:

“We know that our customers are passionate on both sides of this issue and we trust them to be responsible in our stores.”

Kroger saying they “…trust their customers to be responsible…” is pure hokum. Why else would they have cameras all over the store and anti-theft devices at the exits? Why would they insist you pay the cashier before loading your groceries into your car. Why don’t even trust you to return their shopping carts? (Note, some carts have wheel locking theft deterrents on them.)

With all due respect to the Second Amendment, Kroger’s response to the Open-Carry issue is disappointing. The notion of guns and butter may work great  as a  model in second year economics, but not on the second aisle at the local market.

I can’t control what Kroger management does, I can however control what I do, which is to (1) LMAO (Laugh My Ass Off) at Kroger’s attempt to sell hokum and  (2) I can also shop elsewhere.  Kroger can trust ME on this.

EPILOG: I thank Kroger for the free laughs. I am now off to find other free fun, like maybe watching Armando for a few minutes on that late night infomercial, the one where he swears ‘on his mother’s eyes’ that you too can get filthy rich by flipping houses. Of course, I wonder  how Armando’s mother’s vision is these days?

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Many thanks to my ‘village idiot’ half-brother, Trevor Irvin for his immense help on this piece. Thanks Trev. Will

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Image Credits: 1) Man carrying ridiculous gun in a Kroger pharmacy; 2) another ridiculous man with the Oreos in a Target; - both from MomsDemandAction.org and 3) couple looking ridiculously at each other from MyAssetTag.com - all photos promotional/fair use.
Will Cantrell

Will Cantrell

Will Cantrell (a pseudonym) is a writer, storyteller, and explorer of the milieu of everyday life. An aging Baby Boomer, a Georgia Tech grad, and a retired banker, Cantrell regularly chronicles what he swears are 'mostly true'  'everyman' adventures. Of late, he's written about haircuts, computer viruses, Polar Vortexes, identity theft, ketchup, doppelgangers, bifocals, ‘Streetification’, cursive handwriting, planning his own funeral and other gnarly things that caused him to scratch his head in an increasingly more and more crazy-ass world.   As for Will himself, the legend is at an early age he wandered South, got lost, and like most other self-respecting males, was loathe to ask for directions. The best solution, young Will mused, “was just to stay put”. All these years later, he still hasn't found his way but remains  a son of the New South. He was recently sighted somewhere close to I-285, lost, bumfuzzled and mumbling something about “...writing' his way home.” Of course, there are a lot of folks who think that “Cantrell ain't wrapped too tight” but hope that he keeps writing about his adventures as he finds his way back to the main highway.