Everyone’s Confused; It Must be the Holidays

Something strange happens every year about this time. It’s the migration of the once-a-year shopper. Either that or the beginning of cold weather affects our brains more than scientists have admitted to us. All of a sudden I start getting a lot more questions about where to find things in the store. Way more than could be accounted for by the increased number of shoppers.

For example, a woman is looking at a display of cheese, “Where are the spices to use in a crock pot?” I explain to her that she needs to be looking in the spice aisle. She looks a little relieved and says thank you. I’m not sure why she thought she would find spices at the end of an aisle that says cheese.

“Where are the frozen vegetables?” I assume they want to know which aisle. I start out with, “They’re with the frozen foods, in…” As I fumble for the aisle number, she says, “Oh, that makes sense! Thank you.” I’m left to wonder whether she really didn’t understand that frozen vegetables would be with frozen food.

“Do you sell red hots? They come in a jar.” I look puzzled. The only red hots I know are hot dogs at the ball park and cinnamon candy. He says, “They come in a jar. They sell them at other stores.” I ask him whether they are meat, vaguely remembering something rather odd looking in a jar in the meat department. “Yes, that’s them.” So I send him to the meat department. Hopefully I hadn’t been looking at pickled eel or something.

“Where are the drain covers? For a kitchen sink.” I’m holding a box of cheese. I go across the aisle to look at kitchen implements, pretty sure it’s not the right spot. I said that I thought he would need to go to plumbing (the other side of the store). He asked if I could call someone who knew. So I called the manager who said they were in the plumbing aisle. And I took him to the same place we had been headed five minutes earlier.

“Where are the large slices of cheese? They used to hang on this wall.” She’s on one side of me while I kneel, stocking. I point to my other side. “Oh that’s right! I knew they were here somewhere.”

“Where are the large packages of processed cheddar cheese?” I tell her that we only sell the one size. “No you don’t. They go right here.” She points at a spot at the bottom of the cooler. I tell her that we don’t have cheddar cheese in those spots, just American cheese. “Then you just got rid of it. You always had it there.” I don’t know what to say. It hasn’t been there for the past two years I’ve been in the department.

“Where’s the gravy?” I tell her which aisle it’s in; two aisles past where we’re talking. “I’ve looked everywhere. It’s in a jar.” (What’s with the jars – do people think we keep them all together?) So I get up, and see a manager at the end of the that aisle. I walk toward him, and she follows. About halfway down the aisle. “Oh, here it is! Thank you!”

“Where’s the canned pumpkin? I’ve looked in fresh vegetables and fresh fruit and can’t find it. Do you have it on an end-cap?” I take her to the pie fillings and she gets what she wants. If she had told me that she had searched canned vegetables and couldn’t find it, I probably would have been a little less surprised by the question.

It’s not just the customers. A cashier wanted to know if she could give a rain check to a woman who wanted cheese slices that were out-of-stock. Her manager explained that since the item was not on sale, there was no need for a rain check. The woman could come back at any time and get it for that price. At least it was a new cashier.

I got the Thanksgiving shipment of cream cheese today. Two pallets of it. Due to space considerations, I put it on two (very heavy) carts which an extremely strong person from the grocery section helped me get into the cooler. These carts are intended to be used as storage so we can take out cases as we need them (not move the entire cart). I placed signs on each one saying that they should not be moved unless there were two people doing it. A while later, a guy from the deli comes up and asks if I can help him clean up the cream cheese in the cooler. “I needed to move it to get the chickens out. I barely moved it and it all fell over.” There was no way for one person to move it without jerking the cart to get it to move.

I asked him whether he had read the sign.

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