Sunday, June 03, 2007

Shopping at the Grocery

This afternoon, I went to the grocery to pick up food for the week. I have a very particular way I shop for food: I look for the little sale signs. My grocery has a "discount card", which is free to sign up for. If you have the card, a quick swipe unlocks the "sale" prices. If you don't have the card, you're stuck with the standard price.

I get my cart and wander the store looking at everything that has sale tags. I have very little brand loyalty. I am much more likely to be swayed by whatever is currently on discount. It usually works out well, because things tend to go on sale in sequence. If French's mustard isn't on sale, Plochman's is. If 83% lean beef isn't on sale, 93% is. If grape juice isn't on sale, orange juice is. And I always come away from the cereal isle with *some* kind of sale item.

It's even somewhat a joke in my family. When they come to visit and ask about the tasty jam or bread I've got, usually the first thing out of my mouth is "well, it was on sale."

Being firmly committed to getting as much out of my discount card as I can, I was surprised to be in the checkout lane behind someone who was the polar opposite of me. I unpacked my food onto the food-mover while watching all the stuff that was being scanned in ahead of me. Soda. Buns, both hot dog and hamburger. Juice packets. Vegetables. Soup. Chips. Cheese. On and on.

All told, it was $298 worth of food. Considering my monthly food budget is $300, I confess my eyebrows did raise slightly. Of course, I live by myself, whereas this woman was buying food for a family of 6. At least, I hope so. The $298 total was after the collective discount applied by her coupon card. Her discount came to $3.57. Not very much.

In contrast, I purchased $27 worth of food. My discount was $9.63, and I was frustrated because I ended up buying some store-baked bread that wasn't on sale (it tastes better, though). I was astounded that this other customer could accumulate so much food without getting more of a discount than a paltry three and a half dollars. In my opinion, you have to be actively TRYING in order to get such a low "score" in the sale game. I could probably accomplish it, but only if I went in with the expressed purpose of buying non-sale material. I don't think I'd be able to accomplish it through pure serendipity.

*** *** ***

On a completely different subject, I'm almost positive that the person ahead of me in the above example was a transsexual. She was tall, broad shouldered, and spoke with a low voice (for a woman). She was somewhat overweight, but most of her weight seemed to be above her beltline (as opposed to more hips and thighs, or breasts and upper arms). She also had hands that seemed more at home on a man than a woman, in size as well as clumsiness.

All this in itself may point to nothing. After all, we have many feminine men and masculine women in today's society. I did take care, however, to note the relative length of the ring finger compared to the index finger. It's not a certainty, but statistics show that men usually have longer ring fingers than women. Feel free to try this at home!

As I said, it's not a certainty, and the current gender identity of this patron is not really significant to me. If I had bumped into her, I still would have said "excuse me, ma'am."
I do wonder, though, considering my previous experience in the checkout lane: would the parents be more or offended by the orthodox Jews or the woman who used to be a man?

EDITORS NOTE: The picture for this entry is of Thanyarat Jirapatpakorn, the winner of the Miss Tiffany's Universe transsexual beauty pageant held in 2006 in Thailand.

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