The Old Coot spots a strange process

The male grocery buying process! It’s a marvel to behold, akin to the Goodbye Process, the Male Clothes Buying Process, the Male Can’t Fold Process and the other processes I’ve unearthed in my old coot quest for truth, justice and the American way. This one often goes unnoticed. A male goes into a grocery store in search of 13 items, sometimes with a list, but more likely with the items stored in his head. He’s not the primary shopper in the family; he’s the “pick-up-a-few-items-now-and- then” guy. He sometimes grabs a basket, but more often thinks he can do without, that he’ll be able to juggle the items for the few minutes it will take to get them to the checkout counter.

He goes to the first aisle, passing the stacks of goods on sale and picks up his first item. Let’s call this conquest #1, because this is a war, he’s in enemy territory on a seek and destroy mission. He moves through the aisles in a methodical process, secures all the items on his list in 3 minutes and 27 seconds and heads to the “express” checkout lane. “Coupons? Store card? Need help with the bags? Want to donate a dollar to the bunion scholarship fund?” No! No! No! No! He pays in cash, grabs his bags and leaves. He didn’t get the best buys, nothing on sale, no two-for-the-price-of-one deals, and no unit price comparisons. Just the 13 items on his list in under four minutes. Ta Da! The male grocery shopping process!

There is a modified version of this process. I call it the Early-Bird Grocery Buying Process. It’s usually old guys, like me. Early birds act as though they are in a foreign country when they step into a grocery store: tentative, unsure and anxious. They dart in and start by snatching a newspaper, the New York Daily News or maybe the New York Times, an item in their comfort zone. Then, they go for the few things they’ve picked up before: milk, bread and frozen pizza. When there is something like baking soda on their list they don’t know where to look. It requires a reconnaissance mission, a search through the store, aisle by aisle. 

The signs that state what is in each row don’t help, not detailed enough. They are forced to do the unthinkable, ask for directions, something they never do when driving a car and unable to figure out how to get from A to B. But here, in this strange land, and nearly in tears, they ask. And, often the response they get is, “It’s right behind you sir. Just turn around.” That exposes yet another male defect: men don’t know how to look. But that’s a topic for another day. 

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