I heard the groans of frustration just as I turned down the spice aisle. I sensed the imminent onset of a skirmish, and since I was the only stupidity specialist in the vicinity, I decided to intervene.
As Shopper #1 fussed over the different brands of paprika, she parked her cart dead center, dashing any hope of passage by other market-goers. I noticed puffs of steam emanating out of the ears of Shopper #2 who was stuck behind #1. A string of pitiful pleas of “excuse me” were uttered over and over again by #2. Meanwhile, #1 remained fixated on paprika.
#2 then lifted one foot, slowly put it in reverse in preparation for kicking over #1’s cart, when I stopped her.
“It’s not worth it,” I gently admonished.
#2 then picked up a baguette and indicated she meant to swat #1 with it. I shook my head. I grabbed #1’s cart, lifting one end and thrusting it off to the side, knocking only a few soup cans over in the process. #2 hurried away, murmuring obscenities befitting a seasoned cargo ship sailor.
I continued shopping, pondering who was at fault: the stuper (short again for an immeasurably stupid person) for forgetting she was not alone in the store, or Shopper #2 for her lack of navigational skills and for attempting to overpower stupidity with violence.
Deep in thought, I reached for a bottle of salad dressing. Suddenly I was trapped between the condiments and the dairy department. A woman had parked her cart next to me, perpendicular to the aisle so that it completely blocked all save for a two-inch gap on one side. Had she mistaken me for a dragonfly? Another shopper impatiently waited behind me.
I turned to view the courtesy challenged perpetrator and was greeted by her ample backside as she bent over and plunged one fleshy arm through the dark recesses of the milk section in pursuit of the bottle with the freshest stamp. I debated ramming her cart straight into her rotund rear, but feared I’d hardly make a dent.
Instead, I backed out of the aisle, forcing several behind me to do the same. We reversed ourselves out, in single file. I kept repeating my mantra, “Be kind to the muddled mind, be kind to the muddled mind….” It took a few minutes, but my sense of well-being was soon restored.
Then, as I placed a bunch of bananas in a plastic bag, my cart was suddenly sideswiped by a one-armed nitwit on his cell phone. He ran his cart into mine with barely a glance and zigzagged rapidly away, messing up a neat row of pineapples and nearly knocking over a cheerful display of the Jolly Green Giant.
If this same behavior took place on the street, arrests would be made, driver’s licenses taken away and possibly, a long prison term for the offender. Regrettably, laws governing cart behavior in supermarkets are nonexistent, not unlike the days of the wild west. During such days, citizens often took the law into their own hands out of necessity…and survival. I don’t believe that is the answer here.
I have written a petition and plan to sit at tables in front of supermarkets collecting signatures to install a set of laws specifically dealing with stupers in markets. Sample laws:
- No carts may park in the middle of the aisle, ever;
- Cell phone use only permitted in designated areas;
- 12 items or less means exactly and only that;
- Perpendicular parking is a minimum $10,000 fine;
Grocery stores should not be stupermarkets. They should be a bastion of civility and common courtesy. In the meantime, feel free to borrow my mantra. And use forceful measures only as a last resort.
Your thoughts create the person you want to be.