You Should Need a License to Drive a Shopping Cart

I’m going to tackle one of my pet peeves – bad behavior of other people in grocery stores. Certainly some of these behaviors apply to other types of stores. The mentality and skills of searching through racks of clothes, pegboards with hardware and shelves of toys are somewhat different. But only in grocery stores have I seen such blatant violations of what should be deemed common etiquette. Personally, I use a hand-held basket in most of my grocery visits. Only when I’m buying large bags of apples, a gallon of milk or cat litter do I need a cart. I really like those smaller carts you can find at some stores like Meijer and Marianos. When I use a cart I always “park” it somewhere out-of-the-way while I browse.

Continue reading

A Primer on Rude Drivers – A Bumpy Ride, Indeed

It was just a matter of time before I tackled a subject that has been percolating in my inner being and roaring to escape. Beware – my inner grouch is about to be unfurled and it isn’t going to be pretty. I could write a tome on this subject since rude drivers are encountered every day – this is a behavior that is not just annoying – in its worst form it can prove fatal. And shame on the perpetrators who take others’ lives in their hands due to rudeness and ignorance when they get behind the wheel. Let’s start with the basics – in America, this is what most teens should have learned in Driver’s Ed at age 15 or so. That is if you weren’t goofing off, a stoner, or passing notes to your pals. Guess what folks – that little wand on the right side of the steering wheel was installed by car manufacturers for a reason. Turn signals are underutilized and it is so damn easy to take a second to use them, yet every day I encounter rude drivers who are too lazy to do so. Yesterday it was pouring rain and some jerk in front of me suddenly turned right without signaling. I nearly slammed into his rear end and I would have been ticketed had I done so – wow, that is justice!

Continue reading

Boy, I Know How to Pick ‘Em – Blasted Grocery Store Lines

Why does it seem to be the case more often than not that I pick ’em wrong? A perfect scenario to illustrate my point occurred at Dominick’s in the South Loop last week. There were only two lanes open on a weekday afternoon at what happens to be one of Dominick’s largest stores – a very nice store, actually. I had to choose between the “15 or Less Express Lane” that had at least nine people in line or another lane that had just two people. You can almost guess what happened next. Well, I chose the lane with just two people … unfortunately, the 70ish clerk was totally inept and it took her 10 minutes to do what anyone else would accomplish in 60 seconds. It didn’t help that the lady right in front of me had 15 coupons and paid by check, both of which totally threw this clerk for a loop. Now, don’t get me wrong – I am all for hiring workers of all ages, but train them properly – young and old alike – so that my precious time is not wasted. My daughter was not bothered by this as much – she was so engrossed in reading one of her celebrity rags that she barely noticed that we were waiting in line for 15 interminably long minutes. In the meantime, all nine people had been rung up at the Express Lane and were on their merry way. I cannot count how many times I have stepped into a grocery line that looked promising only for the customer in front of me to have an item ring up wrong – price check! Or had a customer in front of me search for pennies in her purse only to come up short and make the clerk take an item off her order. Or had a customer in front of me…

Continue reading

An Opening Salvo on Charity Thrift Stores

We have touched on the subject of charity thrift stores here before, but barely scratched the surface. One of the main reasons for starting this blog was indeed our frustrations with these types of stores. So let’s finally begin an initial review of these “charity shops.” First we’ll differentiate “charity” thrift stores from commercial ones. There seem to be less of the non-charitable types out there these days, but they can be found. Many of the ones we used to frequent have gone out of business. Most of them I would classify as an alternate type of antique store or more accurately – resale store – but dealing in more recent “vintage” clothing and household items. If you like fashions from the 70s, they can be a treasure trove. Of course one primary difference is that they generally sell items that the owners purchased themselves or are there on consignment. Charity thrift stores, on the other hand, sell things that were donated freely, often as a tax deduction. So understand this point: they are selling items that cost them nothing, and often a small percentage of those goods become tax deductions for those who donate to them. Thus in a way, the government is helping to fund their inventory.

Continue reading

Idiotic Volunteer Clerks’ Guide to Thrift Store Etiquette

Well, I am striking another Chicago-area thrift store off my list. I cannot forgive the idiotic behavior and ill manners of the ladies working at the Miseracordia Twice Blest Thrift Shop in Palatine. If this was the first time I encountered rudeness at this shop, I would give them the benefit of the doubt. After all, they are volunteers supposedly working for a worthy cause – to benefit people with developmental disabilities and their families. But every time I have been here, the ladies working there have been crabby and bordering on nasty. This visit, however, pushed me over the edge.

Continue reading

Windy City Memories … of the Way Department Stores Were

I have been thinking a lot lately about all the department and discount stores I frequented over the years … going back to my earliest memories as a young child through the 1990s. I have always had a knack for sniffing out bargains and some of my fondest memories fall into that category, while others are more dramatic. Of course, being a native Chicagoan, I too bemoaned the demise of the iconic classic department store Marshall Field’s and will begin there. Everybody has their own memories of Field’s (I am not talking Frango Mints), but among those that stand out for me: My dad getting really annoyed with me because I was afraid to go down the escalator at the Old Orchard Field’s – he had already descended to the bottom and had to come back up and fetch me, age 7 or 8. My mom taking us to see Santa Claus at State Street (despite being Jewish) including lunch at the Walnut Room – and that awesome Christmas tree, age 8 or 9. My mom taking me shopping at State Street after my eyes were dilated by an old stodgy ophthalmologist – everything was a big gorgeous blur of color, age 10. Witnessing an old lady with blood pouring down her stockings – her leg had somehow gotten caught in the moving escalator. This happened at the Old Orchard Field’s and again I was shopping with my dad, age 11 (good thing I had not seen that at age 7 or 8 – would have caused a permanent escalator phobia). That glorious bargain basement and all the wonderful things bought at a steep discount. Fast forward to 1981 – registering for wedding presents at Old Orchard 14 years before the demise of my marriage. Exchanging baby gifts at Old Orchard with my newborn baby and nursing her in the ladies’ room, July 1987. My now 2-year old stepping out…

Continue reading

Incessant TV Commercial Leads to Obsessive Link Surfing

A few days ago this article was simply going to discuss a TV commercial that Betsy and I cringed at every time it aired. The commercial in review here is for Talbots, a “Women’s Clothing and Apparel” store. The music is the first thing I noticed – a jarring, growling female singer going on about evolving, revolving, revolution and history repeating. When I actually watched the commercial I was annoyed by the woman who the ad focuses on. She’s oh-so properly dressed in what looks like a business suit with leather gloves and a big purse hanging from one arm. She’s swinging her hips like a runway model as she walks through city streets. Most annoying to me was the smug, almost predatory look she has throughout the ad.

Continue reading

San Francisco Grocery Shop Made me Salivate

I just returned from a brief 2-day stay in San Francisco. I was there for a job interview, and as usual, during my free time, decided to explore areas I had not frequented during my last two trips in 2010 and 2006. I discovered an amazing grocery store – like no other – at least in the Midwest. On my way to The Mission, I stumbled upon Rainbow Grocery. I started to salivate the moment I walked into this cool grocery store – I think my mouth was actually hanging open in disbelief at the sheer quantity and quality of the drinks, teas, bulk foods, produce, cheese, etc. Good thing Jeff was not with me – he could have easily spent $100! Given that I have been unemployed now for more than 3 months, I have gotten cheap and try to cut corners wherever and whenever I can. I was tempted to buy everything, but spent less than $4.00 on a very small sampling of bulk dried mulberries, date nuggets, and two natural chocolate mint patties by SunRidge Farms.

Continue reading

Ladies’ Restrooms Gross Me Out – What Gives Girls?

I have thought about blogging on this topic for a long time, but didn’t have an appropriate venue until now. I just don’t get it, but it must be true because I have come across this phenomena way too many times, as have those closest to me – namely Jeff, my daughter, my sisters, and a few good friends. In simple terms, women seem to be slobs, at least when it comes to public restrooms. I cannot tell you how many times I have been shopping and needed to use the ladies’ room. I have encountered really gross stuff, whereas Jeff has used the men’s room at the same store, mall, etc. and told me it was clean. And I know he doesn’t have a different definition of clean because he never misses the toilet and always puts the seat down at home – I love you, dear! And when my daughter has to pee really badly and cannot wait, she will use the men’s john if it is a single one. And at those establishments, she has reported that the men’s john was spotless whereas the ladies’ room, which I waited to use, was disgusting. What gives girls?

Continue reading

Statistics Can Provide Food for Thought …

When I was in high school and was forced to study statistics, it was a subject I viewed more with dread than relish – oddly, the latter is how I view statistics now. I think the big difference is that back then they were simply numbers with no meaning. Once I entered the world of medical and health-related public relations, statistics became a powerful tool to tell a message within the context of a greater story. But it goes beyond that – I really dig the probability that well-researched and juxtaposed statistics present – for instance, what is the chance of getting struck by lightning versus getting struck by stroke versus hitting a hole in one. Well, I just heard a compelling hospital radio ad today stating that every 45 seconds, somebody in the U.S. has a stroke. Of course given that I have already done in-depth research on stroke for PR initiatives and know that an estimated 795,000 Americans suffer stroke every year …  I am left pondering how the hospital’s PR firm arrived at this statistic. When I got home, I did the arithmetic and I am guessing they used something like this formula – the number of seconds in a day is 86,400 multiplied by the number of days (365) in a year is 31,536,000, divided by 795,000 = 39.6. The seconds are a constant, but they obviously used a slightly different overall number of stroke victims.

Continue reading