My thoughts, Exactly
By Jim Chase
I used to look forward to grocery shopping and have always found it enjoyable to shop for our family. In fact, my wife and I often joke about turning trips to the grocery store into a “date” that allows us to spend time together. Are we fun, or what?
Unfortunately, my attitude about grocery shopping is changing. It’s due to all the increased pressure put on shoppers to donate to charities. I mean, it’s one thing to have a container for Jerry’s Kids or Make-A-Wish or the National Bladder Buddies strategically placed near the coin change dispenser. You get a handful of change, see the container with an appeal to donate and drop in the money for a good cause.
As the cost of feeding a family skyrockets along with the dangers of carrying large amounts of cash, I suppose it was only a matter of time before you could pay for groceries and donate to a charity with only a swipe of a credit or debit card. (I saw a Salvation Army bell ringer last Christmas with one of those wireless credit card readers attached to his red kettle – how progressive.)
However, now I check out at the grocery store and the little digital screen on the card reader asks whether or not I want to contribute money to this or that charity and (the economy being what it is) I often need to tell it “no.” That’s when the pressure really begins. No sooner do I push the NO button, then the cashier clears her throat and asks in her loudest stage voice, “Would you care to make a donation to Prostate Pals today, Mr. Chase?” Seriously? The machine didn’t just tell you that I declined to give today? I’ll bet it did. Why else would you say my name so loudly that anyone walking by on Foothill Boulevard can hear you? Even now, some scared little child is probably looking up to her mommy and asking who that terrible man is who cares nothing about orphans or prostates, women’s breasts, kidneys, marching dimes, whales, beaches, trees, wildlife, air quality, melting ice caps, penguins postures or other needy groups. Why not just build a stockade out in the parking lot and let me hang my head in shame as my frozen peas thaw? I mean, sheez-a-loo, people. Are you on commission?
Go ahead and ask me once. Privately. Digitally. But please don’t ask again. I shouldn’t have to explain that I’m already buying ground beef that expires within hours along with one-ply toilet tissue and plain wrap mayonnaise. I just don’t have any extra money to play with today. Okay? Get it? I write for a living. I have two kids in college. I live in California. What part of “flat broke” don’t you understand?
And it’s not just the incessant appeal for donations that dials up the pressure. Our supermarket of choice also has a small bank branch in-store. When the bank employees decide to forage for new customers out in the supermarket aisles, I find myself playing hide-and-seek amongst the mac n’cheese just to avoid their pitch for a higher-yield CD. They always find me so easily, however, I think they must tag me with some sort of electronic dart as I walk through the door. It’s gotten so that I need a script of turn downs and ready excuses just to go grocery shopping; “No thank you,” “Not today,” “Not interested,” “You already asked me over near the toilet paper,” and such.
Recently there was even an aggressively amiable salesperson for the Los Angeles Times in our grocery store pushing new subscriptions. I watched in abject horror as he shadowed shoppers down the aisles if they somehow managed to evade him at his station. I had to bypass four entire aisles just to avoid the man.
Maybe it’s just me, but grocery shopping is starting to feel more like used car shopping every day.
I’ll see you ‘round town.
Jim Chase is an award-winning advertising copywriter and lifetime CV resident. Find him online at www.wordchaser.com.