Yogurt's Hidden Dangers--Part 2
Wow! Who would have thought my short (pun intended) item about height-challenged grocery shopping would have prompted such an outpouring of comments and e-mails. A lot of you told me I was silly, wasting my time and should get over it and move on to bigger (no pun intended) stuff. But even more of you thanked me for talking about a problem that plagues you--and me--almost every day.
Yes, I know there are a lot more serious issues out there (as one reader told me, people are dying of cancer and viruses), but this blog is about consumer topics, things that people deal with daily. That ranges from the very serious issues of identity theft, bankruptcy and product safety to the smaller nuisances in life, such as rude store clerks and short store shelves. I love to talk about all these things so if you've got issues you want me to tackle, please write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, I'd like to share what I've learned from you. Many people suggested I use a cane, broken antenna or long spoon to get items from high shelves. That really doesn't solve the problem: A can could still fall on my head once it leaves the shelf. Others suggested I carry a step stool; that's clunky but possible. Even better is a grabber (best described as tongs on a pole). That may even work for you tall people who complained you can't reach the items on the lowest shelves! I may buy a grabber--but even better still: Stores should buy them and place them strategically throughout the aisles.
Thanks for all your wonderful ideas and comments. There are two e-mails I'd like to single out. The first one is from a Fairfax reader Lynn Lawrence, who said she, too, is height-challenged. She had two suggestions on how to shop without having a can of baked beans fall on your head:
"1) When entering the grocery store, proceed immediately to the service desk, tell them you want an assistant to follow you around the store to reach down the things you will be buying...2) Do a little prep work before leaving home, get the phone number of the grocery store you will be Honoring with Your Presence (remember this and remind them you don't have to shop at their store, there are plenty of other stores you could go to, but you love their store and really want to spend your money there!). Grab your cell phone and head out to the store, and when you come to the first item that you cannot reach, (and every item thereafter as well) dial the store's phone number and when they answer say something like this: 'Hello, I need assistance in aisle 14, I cannot reach the product I need to buy. If you don't send someone right away I am going to be forced to try to climb on one of the lower shelves to reach it and I just hope I won't fall and get hurt, because if I do...' " And if your cell phone doesn't get reception in that store? "Not to worry, buy a couple of walkie talkies and give one to the person at the service desk when you go into the store and tell them you will be calling them for assistance with products you'd have to be an All Star Basketball Player to reach!!"
Then there's this poem written by David Plumb, who teaches creative writing at Florida Atlantic University, about another supermarket shopping issue.
Say Cheese Please
So I bring back the cheese.
It's come to this;
bringing back the cheese.
Hoop Cheese it is.
On sale two bucks off
with the card, only she didn't ring it
up right the first time.
I paid full price.
So here I am at 8.03 AM
standing at the lottery and take back counter
with my cheese and I look around.
The long aisles stretch clear to yellow
with lights and hollow music
and from time to time a sales associate,
that's what they are now,
sales associates, glances at me like maybe
I'm waiting for a bus.
And I wait and she, the cashier of the moment
asks what I want.
The discount is what I want.
She has to call the cheese person, she says.
So I wait with my Hoop Cheese
at $5.15 that should be $3.15
for this middle aged woman to appear
with gauze cap and a question mark in her eyes.
It's a very big sign I say.
I don't understand why you don't know.
We're doing the best we can the cashier says
and I say not good enough.
So the woman with gauze hat walks off with my cheese
and I keep it up.
I say how come you don't know what the hell
you're selling and she says I'm just taking up space
and I say, I think that's true.
We're trying to help you she says and I'm about
to just cash in, when the gauze hat returns with the Hoop
Cheese and a label to stick on which I think
is the discount, but by the time
they stop fiddle-dorking around I'm sick
of the whole thing;
the empty super market, the empty faces,
the vegetables down the way
looking lonely as hell
and the Hoop cheese in the gauze hat's hand
that I no longer want,
so I say just the refund please.
You mean you don't want it?
No the refund, please.
And she says it again,
"We're just trying to help,"
as she slips the fiver and the change out
of the register into my hand
and I breathe a sigh, I am so
Damn glad to be away from the death
of the place, the discounts on life,
the whole damn cheese,
Hoop or no.
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