Grocery Store Etiquette! What comes to mind? Common sense is not so common after all. I had a rather lengthy conversation with a Billa-Supermarket employee the other day who told me some stories. I also asked this question “Grocery Store Etiquette” on Facebook a while ago and received all kinds of (weird) questions. Some things are very normal to me but quantum physics to others. Like, for example how not to be an asshole on the subway! I will answer the main, recurring questions here for you.
Can I remove individual items from a pack, like one can of beer or a single pudding?
First, you should know that it often costs more per unit when you do this. But stores have different policies, so ask before you crack into a sixer of Stiegl Beer. And what’s the worst that would happen if you got the whole case? Invite some friends. Make some friends.
What do I do with a piece of produce I dropped on the floor?
Put it back in the pile or add it to your basket. If it’s a more delicate item, like an avocado, take it to the customer service counter or hand it to the nearest store employee. Too embarrassed? Buy it and bury it in the backyard and hope an avocado tree grows as a reminder of your flaws. Or, I don’t know, eat it?
What’s your stance on sampling grapes or snacks from the bulk bins, etc.?
You can have ONE grape. Not a whole cluster. I’m looking at you! I don’t care if you just came from the gym and are bulking up! On grapes! If you want to try something, ask. Did you know that at a lot of major grocers, a manager will let you sample ANYTHING your heart desires? Yes, even off-brand graham crackers. But do you really need to sample a roasted almond? Come on now.
Can I bring 11 items to the 10 items or less aisle? Who’s really counting?
I’m not counting: (insert spooky music) ONLY GOD IS COUNTING AND HE KNOWS EVERYTHING! #justkiddingnotreligiousatall. This is the honor system! Do you have honor? I don’t think 11 is a big deal; 14 is too far; 23 is outrageous. This is the only order we have left. Don’t let it disintegrate into lawless chaos like Twitter, lobster with sunglasses, the President, and Congress.
Is it ever okay to ride on the carts like a race car?
If the aisle/parking lot is clear, YES. There are more dangerous things a person can do with a grocery cart. Once when I was a kid, I was riding in the cart while my brother pushed me as fast as possible through the outdoor garden section at the supermarket and I stood up and yelled, “STOP!” and he did. I flew forward, landing on my head on the concrete. And look how I turned out!
Please address the best way to abandon items you realize you don’t want/need, especially perishable ones.
The road to hell is littered with vacuum-packed chicken breasts stuffed into magazine racks (a real thing I’ve witnessed). You know someone has to deal with that, don’t you? There’s no grocery store detritus fairy who taps it with her wand and makes it disappear. However, since 17 people asked this question, it’s clear we can’t stop leaving the unwanteds in our wake. Who has the time or energy to trek through an exceptionally air-conditioned labyrinth to return that wrong-flavored yogurt? You do. Return it! Or fine, hand it to the cashier and apologize.
It’s normal to take an empty bag of chips or an opened bottle of Dr. Pepper to the checkout line, right? I’m going to pay for it; I’m just hungry.
This was divisive. Can’t you just wait to eat and drink after you paid for the item? Just please pay for what you snack on, and don’t leave crumbs all over the conveyor belt.
If no one’s around to help, can you climb the lower shelves to reach an item on the top shelf?
Do you want to die under a fallen shelf of canned queso? Kind of. Go find someone to help! It’ll only take a second.
Can I leave the cart wherever I want? Someone gets paid to put it back, right?
Honestly, just don’t leave your cart in the middle of a parking lot on the theory that some poor store employee will be forced to retrieve it. You’re right — one of them will. But in the meantime, you’re adding more clutter to the already difficult terrain of the parking lot. Also, you’re increasing the odds that it’ll get stolen. Don’t let it become another cart of darkness.
Just don’t be an asshole! Happy shopping.