Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hell on earth has a home away from home

I used to think the phramacy line at CVS was hell on earth. And it still is but now I discovered there was another place that was hell on earth - the Stop & Shop deli department.

I know. It is dreadful to think that one might spend a few moments on a Friday or Saturday night grocery shopping. And I'm not talking after work hours. I'm talking 9 p.m. when most people are doing normal Friday night activities. And now, it's not because I am married now and have no life, but because the store is not weighed down with the mass of morons drunk driving their carts while trying to calm screaming kids or old people who think it's okay to park their cart in the middle of the aisle while they take 20 minutes to decide on what brand of prune juice fits their needs. I go to the grocery store only at these times. But sometimes I find myself having to go after work to pick something up for dinner. I hate these moments. In fact, it's these times that warrant eating out okay even if we ate out all of the preceding evenings as well.

The last time I braved the afterwork grocery store rush I knew it was a bad idea as soon as I stepped inside. The joint was FREEZING. Granted, I was in produce but this odd new sensitivity to the cold instantly turned my feet numb and blue. I went to the deli counter and took a number 194. What does that tell you? They have this new thing now where you can punch your order into a machine and they will have it ready for you while you shop for other things rather than wait. This is a great idea except I was only here for cold cuts.

My number 194 looked bad but looked less scary when I looked up and saw they were on 190. It should go fast. But my hopes were dashed by the fact that despite 6 people behind the counter, there was only one person slicing cold cuts. That means 5 people were there to do nothing but raise my blood pressure. And the one worker . . . . well slow would be an understatement. I watched as she could not find the Land O' Lakes white American in the fridge. Obviously, this called for the opening of a new one. But rather do that, she talked to the fridge for a few minutes trying to coax it out of hiding.

I realized there was an unusually large crowd gathered by the deli counter because it was raining the day before and rain, you know, melts people.

By the time the counter called for 191, my fingers were white with frostbite and it had been 5 minutes. I started pawing through the pre-packages cold cuts but became angry when I realized that you are paying about $2 more for the conveninece of that and I wanted more than a quarter pound of proscuttio. Call me crazy. Five minutes later they were still on 191 so I began collecting prepackaged cold cuts fightig back the hot stinging tears of defeat as Stop & Shop took my money because they failed to hire proper management to get the deli department in working order.

Screw that!!! No way would I let them win. I put the cold cuts back and decided to wait.

192 was called and I saw another deli person washing their hands as if ready to pitch in and help his slower than slower than slow co-worker. I realized then what took so long. The clerk would slice a piece of whatever and hold it up for the customer to see if it was cut to their liking. Now, who is watching their deli clerk that intently that they would see them hold up a slice of ham. Most people are talking on their cells, walking around produce getting other things or watching their kids trying to wriggle free from the confines of their cold steel cages with wheels. And rather than just let the customer slide, these clerks were waiting for the customer to acknowledge them without making any attempt to get their attention.

Here's a concept. How about just slicing your cold cuts to a usual standard unless the customer specifies a different way. I always specify and therefore I am always fast to answer when the clerk holds up a slice for me to inspect. Not specifying = not caring. So, slice away deli people. Slice away.

By the time they got to 193, my feet were so frozen walking was painful and I thought for sure they were doing this on purpose. I began collecting my cold cuts again while carefully watching the counter to see if it would change before I finished. I balled my number up into a tight little ball and just about pitched into the trash when I thought, "You waited this long, dummy. What's one more number?" So i waited . . . and waited . . . and waited . . . . and waited.

194 Finally! I over ordered everything on purpose and threw in a few extra so that the people behind me had to wait like I had to wait while the Suzie Homemakers before me ordered enough cold cuts to feed army troops. I highly doubt all those people were making antipastas. There is just no excuse.

$22 later, I left the store and vowed to never returned.

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