Shop Till You Drop

Crazy American Supermarkets? Or maybe just the Americans who shop in them. American food shopping habits are a little different from the rest of the world, though where they shop is catching on in Poland as well. Be warned!

Supermarkets being built in the U.S. are beginning to resemble warehouses, they are so enormous. That's good news for variety, but just try to spend less than one hour doing shopping. It ain't easy. Don't get distracted! Older people probably get their weekly exercise during one shopping excursion. That could explain why Americans on average shop only once a week!

The fight for parking spaces

American shoppers will spend half an hour just to get a parking space close to the front door of a supermarket. They will probably walk over one mile during their shopping visit, but they are adamant about not walking an extra ten steps. Come on!

The big freeze

Even if it's July and 100°F (39°C) outside, it is always freezing cold in U.S. supermarkets. Of course, they have perishable items like meat, vegetables and eggs, but when icicles form on your nose and your glasses fog up, please turn up the heat!

Shopping cart with wobbly wheel!

There must be at least 100 shopping carts to pick from at the store. So why do you always get the one with the wobbly wheel that sticks? Strange but true in all U.S. supermarkets (and in Europe, too! - Ed.). Is this a conspiracy so the workers can laugh at customers? Not funny!

Talking in the aisles

Why is it that most American women love to get into heavy conversations right in the middle of the grocery aisle and block others from getting by? This drives silent shoppers (your correspondent included) crazy! Isn't that why they invented the cell phone? When males are shopping they are like men on a mission. "Outta my way!" But maybe men don't chatter because there are so few of them doing the family tasks, of course!

The dreaded express lane

In the U.S., because the lines get long at most supermarkets, especially on Saturday mornings, they came up with a great solution: the express lane. Wrong! In truth it's the exasperation lane. It seems they always put the slow rookie or new cashier in this lane. Moreover, shoppers always think they can outsmart the cashier by bringing more than the maximum 15 items. So don't use the express lane: it'll get you nowhere - fast!

Too much info can be trouble

This especially holds true in U.S supermarkets. Use-by dates, nutritional information, calorie content, fat content and so on. Shoppers can spend ages agonizing over what items to buy. It sure seemed a lot simpler in the old days when you bought the sweet cereal and candy and didn't care how many grams of fat and sugar it contained - even if half your teeth did fall out!

Paper or plastic?

American supermarkets are becoming more aware of environmental issues. The archetypal brown paper bag, as seen in most U.S. movies as the hero returns home with the shopping, is being replaced by plastic bags, although they are obliged to ask you which type you want your goods packed in (even if there are no paper bags left!).

Coupons should be history

Each and every Sunday in all the U.S. newspapers there are slick ads with money-saving coupons to cut out and use at the supermarket. Warning: never get behind a shopper who is using coupons. While it saves money it also slows everything down, so how about just lowering the price for all customers?

Despite what you have read here, though, shopping is an enjoyable experience in U.S. supermarkets. They do offer good value, high quality selections - and a lot of laughs, too!

Bill Piszek