Mastering the Art of Slow: The Grocery Store

A cute little story about patience in the grocery store:

A man observed a woman in the grocery store with a three year old girl in her basket. As they passed the cookie section, the child asked for cookies and her mother told her “no.” The little girl immediately began to whine and fuss, and the mother said quietly, “Now Ellen, we just have half of the aisles left to go through; don’t be upset. It won’t be long.”

He passed the mother again in the candy aisle. Of course, the little girl began to shout for candy. When she was told she couldn’t have any, she began to cry. The mother said, “There, there, Ellen, don’t cry. Only two more aisles to go, and then we’ll be checking out.”

The man again happened to be behind the pair at the check-out, where the little girl immediately began to clamor for gum and burst into a terrible tantrum upon discovering there would be no gum purchased today. The mother patiently said, “Ellen, we’ll be through this check out stand in five minutes, and then you can go home and have a nice nap.” The man followed them out to the parking lot and stopped the woman to compliment her. “I couldn’t help noticing how patient you were with little Ellen…” The mother broke in, “My little girl’s name is Tammy… I’m Ellen.”

Thank goodness I don’t have any children I have to bring shopping with me.  But I do have to flex my patience muscles when dealing with the other people I encounter. Patience is easier to come by when you are mastering the art of slow.  I was at the drugstore the other day and an elderly employee at the checkout register was having some difficulty with the checkout machine. I was trying to be patient and understanding, but the rest of the line was freaking out. It’s hard to move at a slower pace while I’m out shopping when everyone else is on speed.  Ever since I’ve decided to slow down, I’ve noticed that the world is whirling by me, and conspiring against my lifestyle change. Here 5 ways to avoid letting impatience get the best of you:

Get it out of your head that you are making just a “quick trip.”  Nothing about grocery shopping is quick, really.  If you stop trying to squeeze in the grocery store before work, during your lunch,  while you are starving, or have to pee, you won’t be in such a rush.  There will always be long lines, cashiers who don’t know what they are doing, and malfunctioning cash registers. Go to the store when you have plenty of time. Otherwise, get used to it and go with the flow.

Go shopping during non-peak times.  I prefer to go shopping when there are less people out and about. I can take my time comparing items without people hurrying by or rushing me along. The employees of the store seem to be more at ease when the store is slower.  They can take time to help me when there aren’t 50 other people vying for their attention at the same time.  Not to mention, I can always find a pretty good parking space if I’m shopping at an off time.

Use a hand basket, not a cart. Not only will you be limited to buying what you actually need, you will be able to limit your spending.  Furthermore, you will find that you have a much easier time navigating the aisles if the store is busy.

Let impatient people go ahead of you in line. It’s hard to be move more slowly and be patient when the person behind you is tapping their foot, looking at their watch and making loud, obnoxious sighs.  They may not even be that obvious about their unwillingness to wait.  Sometimes their strained face and tense body posture will give them away.  Let them skip you in line.  Even if they decline, and you insist, they will be extremely glad to go. They maybe be embarrassed by their impatience, but that isn’t your problem.

Don’t be afraid to tell people what you need. If you need a second to put you change away, tell the cashier. If you want your receipt first, tell them.  Just be nice about it. I like to separate my receipt from my dollar bills, and my dollar bills from my coins.  It’s kind of hard to do when they hand it to me in one big pile. And then the bag boys are usually trying to hand me my bags before I’ve even got the chance to put my change and receipt in my wallet. If you tell them hang on a second, the cashier and bag boys have no choice but to wait.  Remember, you, the customer, are always right. 🙂

Ignore people who are rushing you along. I’m a slow payer at the checkout. Usually, I’m still putting my change in my wallet when they start with the next customer. It’s even worse with the next person’s groceries are intermingling mine  and the plastic bags become indistinguishable. That person is usually staring at me like, “why is this girl so slow? she’s young and healthy.” The best thing you can do is ignore them.  You are leaving momentarily; they can wait.