The Grocery Gauntlet
Every time you leave your house, you embark on a perilous journey full of dangers that are varied and plentiful. It could be in the form of a rabies infected chipmunk watching you listlessly from a tree with its unwavering black eyes, or a hobo who wants to touch your pretty hair and ends up giving you herpes. Still even more dangerous are the seemingly mundane tasks such as driving a car or going grocery shopping. Thousands of people each year leave their house to pick up some bread or one of those large plastic bins of cheese balls, and never return. Unfortunately, we still lack a decent Internet service where we can order food online and have it delivered, so until that time comes, we must face the horror that is grocery store shopping. Hopefully sometime in the very near future, we won't have any reason to leave the house whatsoever and I can be safe and sound in my bunker built to withstand a direct nuclear hit and filled with a six month supply of water and pornography. What would be even better is when they make full virtual reality so I can just plug in and leave my problematic carcass behind hooked up to some IVs and a colostomy bag, and live the rest of my days as a Wood Elf princess.
But I digress; what I'm trying to say is that grocery shopping sucks and I don't care for it one bit. It is an evil place full of foul humans and machines that try to impede my progress of getting my pudding and beer, and returning home with my sanity fully intact. Let me state, for the record, that I hate masses of humanity and tend to avoid concerts and amusement parks for this reason. Whenever I see a cluster of people milling about and being loud and annoying like a nest of filthy rats, I have a great urge to shoot a Guass Gun from the game Syndicate into the crowd so they catch on fire and run about screaming in an amusing manner. I don't think I'm really a psychopath with tendencies for mass murder, but I would be much happier being a crazy old hermit in northern Montana, spending the days plotting with my Chia pet "Scripo Africannus". Grocery stores tend to magnify the annoyance of the crowd effect, probably due to some genetic impulse having to do with hunting and gathering. I once saw three guys fight for the same box of fish sticks and it resulting in one male baring his teeth, another beating on his chest, and the third grabbing the fish sticks while the other two squared off. He was obviously the more evolved of the pack.
While I consider everybody at the store to be my potential enemy, there are some groups of people who can be categorized by their identifiable shopping patterns. These are the people that make going grocery shopping my most hated chore, and I have to be basically living on water and circus peanuts before dragging myself out to the store. Of course, the best thing to do if you have to be in this situation is to inform yourself of your enemy so you can spot them in advance and try to avoid them at all costs. Sometimes they will join forces and surround you so you're helpless, so I suggest you always keep some cyanide capsules on you at all times in case you need to abort the mission. Either that or bring a Guass Gun.
The Indecisive Shopper
This sort of shopper gets on my nerves like no other. Usually they are ill-prepared for the rigors of supermarket shopping and their erratic and unpredictable behavior can make them a very dangerous adversary. They may be walking down an aisle with their cart listlessly, their head going from side to side, carefully studying all the products on the shelves. They have absolutely no idea what they want or need, so it is an endless cycle of grabbing a random item, walking ten steps forward, and then reversing to put the item back on the shelf. In fact the indecisive shopper may spend up to 14 hours in the store before giving up and just filling the cart with Apple Jacks and batteries and check out. Another danger of an indecisive shopper is sudden maneuvers with their cart. They may pass an aisle by, but something shiny will attract their attention and they will spin their cart around in a fast arcing motion. This can cause great damage to you and your cart if you happen to be following them too closely. The best thing to do is to identify them early and steer clear of them. This also goes for the checkout, because if you get stuck behind this shopper, you might be fatally delayed. They tend to have the cashier void items they just scanned and then change their mind and re-scan them, only to take them off again and causing the cash register to explode in confusion. If this happens, bite down on your cyanide capsule and take a nice nap on the conveyer belt.
Traits:Can't make up mind, never brings a list, may back up or spin without warning.
Annoyance Rating: 4
Grocery shopping can be likened to the video game "Bump N Jump", but instead of trying to avoid or bump off other cars on the road, you are trying to avoid other shoppers and occasionally leaping in the air and landing on them so they explode into flames. One of these obstacles is the roadblock shopper. It is not known if they really even shop at all, but can be seen all around the store blocking aisles and products. Scientists have speculated that these people are just guarding their cart while a partner goes to get something, or it may be that the whole shopping experience slows their cognitive responses to the point where their motor skills are barely functional. Since they are stationary, it is usually easy to swerve around the roadblocks, but if there is an abundance of them or they are wedged in a high traffic area, they can cause major problems. Usually the only thing to do in that situation is to put a charge of dynamite under their cart wheel and blast away the obstruction. Sometimes overcoming this obstacle can be good for morale, and promote teamwork with your fellow shoppers.
Traits: Blocks aisles and products, will not respond to attempts of vocal communication, may have Downs.
Annoyance Rating: 3
The Brat Pack
By far the most irritating of the opponents I face in stores are the single parents with the gaggle of snotlings trailing them like brain-damaged ducks. I don't want to sound like an old grumpy man that hates children, but when one of those shrieking blubbering midgets wanders in front of my cart, I have a sudden and violent urge to run them over, crack their head against a ham, and dump their little corpse in the lobster tank. Parents rarely discipline their children anymore since it's now illegal to spank your own kids, so they generally run amok, getting in the way and treading on your corns. One time I wanted to grab a box of Frosted Mini Wheats and a couple of goblinoids were running to and fro in the cereal section, their grubby fingers wet from snot and saliva. I don't want to get too close and catch one of the litany of viruses they are hosting, but their lack of discipline has emboldened them and they do not fear or shy away from strangers. Just when I thought I saw a break in their zig-zagging patterns, I made a move for the Mini Wheats. It was a feign, and the little brats ran into me, knocking me down and covering me in their mucus. "I've been slimed!" I screamed out, but then the child's mother thought I was molesting her children and beat me with her purse. I fled without the Mini Wheats and had to settle for cold gruel for my breakfast.
Traits: Can be heard in advance by loud shrieking, may run around your legs with ropes and topple you like an AT-AT, exudes one gallon of snot a minute.
Annoyance Rating: 5
The Speed Racer
The Speed Racer might be hard to spot unless they turn a blind corner and crush your spine with their cart. They are the folks that know exactly what they want and want to get the hell out of the store in a record time. They pay no heed to the laws of proper shopping and sprint with their cart through the aisles and around corners with little care for the safety of others. I would consider myself a speed racer shopper since my only concern is getting the items I need and leaving with no care for the welfare of others. Even that being the case, other speed racers are still my competitors and many times I have been locked in highly dangerous races with them. This can get very interesting if you are racing down an aisle and many roadblock shoppers are in the way. It is much like the racing in Tron, as our carts grind side by side, trying to push each other into a roadblock shopper and reach the "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" first. Much to my disappointment, the other speed racer didn't explode into multiple blocked pixels when they were edged into a roadblock, rather they just fell into a display of neatly arranged snack chips, taking out an indecisive shopper who was looking at the chip's nutritional value in the process. Go speed racer, go!
Traits: Charges ahead at full speed without looking, weakness is the roadblock shopper, may have a monkey sidekick. .
Annoyance Rating: 2
The Matlock Crew
My dislike for children is only shadowed by my hatred and mistrust of old people. Not only do they look all weird and wrinkly, they are usually cranky and their envy of youth drives them to make things as difficult as possible for the rest of us. They are really like a hybrid of the indecisive shopper and the roadblock shopper, but with the added danger of a lecture if you raise their ire. This lecture may stall you for several hours and they will go on about how the elderly are not respected properly and how during the Great Depression they were thankful if they received a punch in the mouth so they could be nourished on their own blood and teeth. This may also include a random attack with a cane or walker if you patronize them or try to steal their hearing aid batteries. I'm sure if I am unfortunate enough to reach such a horribly old age, I would make it my life's mission to make everybody else as miserable as I am until some kind soul smothered me with a pillow and ended my nightmare. The only exception to this rule is WW2 vets. If they had the balls to storm beaches and kill Nazis and Japs, then they can do whatever they please.
Traits: Slow and cranky, may soil self in confrontations; will go out of their way to make your shopping experience troublesome.
Annoyance Rating: 4
Right now my cupboards are bare but I don't think I can stand facing the grocery store again. Even if I just run in to grab a few items and try to get out fast by using the self-checkout robot, there is potential for great annoyance. That robot mocks me and plays games with my heart. Every time I scan an item it tells me to put it in the bag so I do, but then it tells me to take the item out of the bag again. The attendant in change of the four checkout robots just rolls their eyes as I try to reason with the foul machine. The next thing you know they will be crafting laser guns out of their scanning beams and running cars into police stations. Oh well. The next time I need some sausages for a BBQ, I'm just going to spear that presumptuous chipmunk who keeps looking at through the window at me with those black doll's eyes, or the herpes infected hobo. It's the other whitish meat.