Where Shopping is Not A Pleasure.

Editor’s Note: “Buggy” is the correct way to say “shopping cart”. I know that not all of you agree, but I cannot force myself to type shopping cart twenty-four times. That’s exactly 168 more characters than are needed. A character savings that I just lost with this explanation.

Publix

1:40pm: Walk through the parking lot of the grocery store, two kids trailing.  Not looking forward to what I know lies ahead, but at least I only need ten items.

Boy Child: “Can we get a race car buggy can we get a race car buggy can we can we can we??”

1:41pm: Locate giant and unwieldy race car buggy, attempt to steer it into the door, run into sides of door several times. Meanwhile, boy child is in a constant, panicked repeat of “Putmein!Putmein!PutmeIN!”

Because it’s so like me to want the most inconvenient, inefficient, drastically reduced capacity buggy – just to let him watch me push it.

1:42pm: Boy child is secured and driving happily. Head to the produce section.

1:44pm: Cannot find pesto. Why wouldn’t pesto be near the herbs and guacamole? But no. I have to ask the strawberry stocker, who explains that the pesto is on the aisle with the oranges.

Of course it is.

1:48pm: Boy Child begins demanding to get out of the buggy. The ridiculously insanely inconvenient buggy that I got just for him. I say what any mother would. No freaking way.

1:50pm: Need cauliflower. WHAT THE CRAP. Cauliflower is $3.99 a head? Nobody even likes cauliflower! I’m basically doing cauliflower a favor by trying to cook it into my recipe and fool my family into thinking it’s not cauliflower. I should get a community service credit, not have to pay nearly eight dollars for the amount of cauliflower I need!

So I find the biggest most beefy heads of cauliflower in the store to justify this insane expense.

1:55pm: Try to get down the pasta aisle. A woman wearing leggings as pants has parked her buggy in the EXACT center of the aisle, and is on the other end of the aisle comparing brands of spaghetti. Her purse is sitting open on the top, so moving her buggy may make me look like a thief.

I don’t like looking like a thief.

I try to maneuver around it, but The Architect of All Publixes designs their aisles to the exact width to never allow this.

She finally looks up and realizes her abuse, and moves her buggy so I can continue on.

1:58pm: Boy child ramps up his demands for freedom. I finally let him out, telling him to stay near me.

He does not.

Girl Child, meanwhile, has noticed that candy is in every conceivable spot that her eyes could land, and is asking for each individual item. It’s as if the store designer measured the fifty-three inch height of my daughter and constructed the entire store around her being able to see all available in the entire universe that includes High Fructose Corn Syrup.

2:00pm: Boy child hooks onto the side of the buggy to ride – since he’s tired of walking. Making my already impossible job of steering into an Elite Olympic Sport.

2:01pm: I try to get sour cream, but another stocker is in the way. And my sour cream isn’t there, despite his restocking. I move on, vowing to come back in hopes that he finds some. He never offers to help.

2:02pm: Girl child forlornly asks if she can ride on the side of the buggy like her brother.

2:03pm: Encounter second person that has left their buggy directly in the middle of the aisle – they are not visible, so I do the moving for them, then manage to not scrape Boy Child’s back while squeezing past. Or at least not scrape it so hard that it bleeds through his shirt.

2:05pm: Head back to the produce to get what I missed. Boy Child takes this moment at the loose leafy vegetables to remember that he has an impressively juicy cough.

He walks up to the vegetables and leans over them so that he has better trajectory.

“Do NOT cough on the lettuce!”

The entire produce section turns and looks.

2:06pm: Boy child begs me to put him back in the buggy. His legs are so tired.

2:07pm: I try to leave the produce section, but a THIRD person has parked their buggy in The Impossible Spot, and on one aisle over, the strawberry stocking lady has now knocked over her load of strawberries, making the entire produce section my own personal Alcatraz.

I finally find the one exit in this Human Maze of Hell.

2:08pm: Boy child is so desperate to ride now that he has crawled up under the buggy and is sitting in the under basket.

I instruct him to get up. AND WALK.

2:09pm: Both children now think that it is their responsibility to pull my buggy. They each grab opposite ends of the front of the buggy and pull in opposite directions, creating a ten-foot berth and distressed shoppers at every intersection.

2:10pm: I try to get to the sandwich meats. Yet another clerk is restocking. IT’S 2:10PM, Publix. Restocking the entire store should happen at 2:10AM.

2:11pm: This reminds me that I needed to check back in on the sour cream. Restocking is still happening, my brand is still out, but I stand there, awkwardly close to the stocker, attempting to get another variety, but alas – he has perfected the art of blocking every canister of sour cream at once.

I wait.

I wait.

I say, “Excuse me – I’m going to grab that sour cream. I was waiting to see if you had the light variety…”

He ignores me, not offering to check his stocking cart or even move so that I don’t have to brush up against his chest to retrieve my dairy product.

2:13pm: We finally head to the check-out line, where I begin taking notes on this Trip to Remember. Leggings as Pants walks up behind me as I’m writing about her superior aisle blocking abilities.

Meanwhile, Girl Child is still begging for every item she sees (“Why don’t we ever buy Apple Jacks? Can I have Swedish Fish? I sure would like some more chocolate…”)

And Boy Child is still begging me to put him back in the buggy.

I realize that I’m never going to make it to the car with him out of the buggy, so I put him in, telling him in no uncertain terms that he cannot get out until we arrive at our car.

So he begins to sit on the side of the buggy. To spite me. To make me wish I had a fork to eat my own eyeball.

Meanwhile, Leggings as Pants is asking me questions about how the sales work.

“If it’s 3 for $5, do I have to buy three, or can I buy one?”

I assure her she can buy as many or as few as her heart desires and still get the deal, but she turns to the cashier and asks again – in case I’m lying to her, obvs.

The cashier agrees with me.

BOOM.

2:20pm: Boy child is performing Pommel Horse on the side of the buggy, begging to get down.

2:21pm: The groceries are all finally bagged and paid for, the bagger does not offer to help me to my car and won’t even make eye contact, and I literally run out of the store, hoping that Girl Child can keep up and that Boy Child sticks his landing, if he does fall.

2:25pm: Load the groceries into the car, notice that the buggy return is one aisle over, attempt to get to it when the blasted behemoth of a buggy gets stuck under my rearview mirror. AND IS STILL NEARLY SCRAPING THE CAR ON THE OTHER SIDE. Not because I’m a bad parker but because this buggy is wider than a full-sized Hummer.

2:26pm: I squeal out of the parking lot, simultaneously mentally cursing Publix and creating a business plan to start a Grocery Delivery Company.

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Comments

  1. Stephanie says:

    Seriously, what is up with the super-inconvenient constant restocking? It’s ALWAYS going on at the Kroger near my house, and yet they never have half the things I need. Sometimes I feel like they’re actively trying to discourage people from shopping there.

  2. Aw, that Publix sounds horrible. :( I know you didn’t go to the one I frequent, because literally every employee I encounter in the store asks if I need any help. I have been to one in the Birmingham area once that sounds more like yours, and I haven’t been back!

    And I haven’t paid much attention to the giant kid carts at Publix, but I can’t stand the ones the Brookwood Target has. An mini-sized Target just doesn’t need those monstrosities clogging up all the tiny aisles.

  3. I’m sharing this with my handful of relatives who work at Publix headquarters and who think I’ve been making these stories up about their precious supermarket.

    Our local store (remember, I’m in Publix’s hometown) just remodeled between the week before Thanksgiving and the week after Christmas – literally no parking spots anywhere, every day for a month. Then they decided, as part of the remodel, to squeeze even more things into the store, shrinking the aisles that are impossible to navigate.

    The only thing I’ve got going is both of mine have outgrown the race car buggy of impossible length.

  4. Those carts are the worst. I get a total body workout pushing one of those around.

  5. I hate those carts with a passion I otherwise reserve for Nazi war criminals. I hate them so much that I a have resorted to ridiculous and elaborate distractions and bribes to avoid them. It never works. I tried to convince my friend yesterday that shopping with a 5yo and an 8yo is as difficult as shopping with a toddler – not only for all the reasons you mentioned, but because my otherwise loving children instantly decide to fight about EVERYTHING the moment we walk into the store. She didn’t believe me. I told her to just wait a few years.

  6. I was going to suggest Peapod, but they’re only in the Midwest and northeast. They are exactly what you need, though. You should petition them to build a Bham area distribution center.

  7. I avoid taking two kids to the store at all costs. One is managable and can be fun, but two is stressful. Kid free at 8:30 pm is my favorite. And I am so sorry to hear you feel that way about Publix. I am obsessed with my local store and tell my husband it is #2 thing I love about living in Florida (weather is #1 of course!) but seriously it is a pleasure for me to shop there and I feel like many of the employees are friends after years of help, conversation and sharing the journeyfrom big belly to baby, to kiddos asking for balloons and cookies. The produce manager would help me find the random fruit or veggie that matched the size of the baby in my belly every week. My two fav check out cashiers and I exchange photos of kids and their grandkids. Anyway, I just had to comment because I love them that much. Maybe come move to Satellite Beach – weather is great and they always help you to the car ;).

  8. I hate those buggies. My nephews always want them when I take them to the store. It also must be universal in that age to want that particular buggy but not want to stay in the buggy more than 5 minutes.

  9. As unwieldy as the buggy from hell is, I would never get through a grocery trip without it.
    Also, I bribe my children with the sugary things in order to achieve the illusion of decent behavior. Sometimes that even works.

    As a former Publix employee, I can honestly tell you that they tell stockers to purposefully put candy and sugary cereals at the eye level of the average seven year old. Maybe they don’t KNOW this is the eye level of a seven year old, but they do put it in that spot on purpose.

    Also, that sour cream stocker would totally be in trouble if management had seen him not bend over backwards to help you find the desired product. (Funny thing is that management general stays to front of the store, so dairy and deli employees are notorious for being standoffish and lax when it comes to customer service.)

  10. My niece lives in New York, orders her groceries online and they’re delivered to her front door weekly. You can IMAGINE how very jealous I am. WE NEED THAT HERE.

  11. I don’t have children, so I don’t know the hell that is grocery shopping with one, much less two. And those carts shaped like cars sound like a nightmare — just for the sake of mothers’ sanity, Publix should get rid of them! But I have to say, the restocking thing, I get why they’d do it at 2 p.m. in the afternoon. Most of their customers probably come in at lunchtime or after work on weekdays. So 2 p.m. is probably a quieter time. Also, every person I’ve ever encountered who works there has been more than helpful, so they have that going for them! But I agree that some items aren’t placed logically where you’d think they’d be. I’m always looking for sweetened condensed milk, which is mainly used in baking but is near the powdered milk. Maybe put in both places? Also, pizza supplies should logically be by the tomato sauce and pastas — Italian stuff sticks together. But no, it’s in its own special spot … sometimes by the freezer aisles? Weird! Just my two cents! Hilarious and entertaining post, as always!

  12. We rarely go to the grocery store and need a cart unless it’s a big trip, which those car carts do NOT have enough room for. Luckily, this means I’m usually able to convince Quinn we can’t get one or does she want to be a “big girl” and walk and carry the handheld basket. I hate those damn car carts.

  13. Lindsay D. says:

    Oh the germs on that race car buggy. Make. Me. Cringe. But we use it also…and it is a constant whining of “Putmein” and “takemeout”
    Glad to know I’m not alone.

  14. Do they have a shopping list app? The one saving grace to our shopping trips – the store we use has a shopping list app that then organizes your list in order by aisle, and tells you exactly where everything is. Sometimes it’s less helpful than others – “produce” is still a pretty wide area to search sometimes – but it does help. Especially with those “why would they put item x THERE” moments, or stores that decide to stock their organic/natural stuff in a seperate section from their “normal” stuff in a seperate section from their ‘bulk’ stuff, so you may have three places to check to find the item you want.

  15. To avoid the chaos that is always Walmart and overpaying for groceries at Publix, we have fallen in love with Aldi since moving to Birmingham. They have all the pantry essentials, a decent produce section, and a growing organic line at amazing prices. Just bring a quarter for your buggy and your own bags (or buy them there). I’m in and out in no time with the way their store is set up. Plus the one I go to is right across the street from publix if there is a “specialty” item I need.

  16. I’m impressed you did it all in under an hour!!! But yes, I’ve had my share of grocery store trips from hell with my 2 when they were younger, I would leave without half the items I went for. Thanks for memories! Lol

  17. You. Are. Not. Alone.

  18. YES, to grocery delivery…I have this same thought. Like a subscription service for groceries…it would be totally worth it.

  19. Hannah @ Simply Add Coffee says:

    Aww I love our Publix, I can’t imagine having a stocker not offer to help and if I couldn’t find something they would go to the back to get it. That being said, yes, please start a grocery delivery service!

  20. Those carts. Mercy. With 3 children, i have two fighting/touching each other in the racecar cart while the toddler is strapped to me and pulling my hair. I’m exhausted by the time we leave. Everybody at our Publix is super helpful, though, and the free cookie and free chicken finger for the kids keeps me coming back.

    Also, the gymnastics bit had me snorting.

  21. I totally second the suggestion to request Peapod service in your area. We have it here on the East Coast and you can do curbside pickup for no extra charge (but do you tip!? That’s the question) or home delivery for a fee. You loose control over somethings like produce, but for the most part it’s great. Requires lots of planning ahead though so guess who still goes grocery shopping most of the time!? yup.

    The pommel horse comment had me roaring! My son does that too

  22. I have been saying for years (at least since I had twins) that’s grocery delivery store would be big business.

  23. This is why I am SO thankful that my mom almost always takes the kids for an hour so I can do my grocery shopping in peace! Thank goodness, or I might lose what little mom-sanity I have left!

  24. Aww. That’s too bad. I mean that sincerely. The employees at the Publix where I shop are so nice! I really love shopping there. But, I hate shopping at WalMart!!!!

  25. You do know about the free cookie they will give to your kids. I hold that cookie hostage to bargain for good behavior. And I do sprints. Down the aisles. And I’m loud and obnoxious to the aisle parkers. In the nicest southern way. Sigh……

  26. Jennifer M. says:

    We are halfway through our third school year here in Maine. WHM has now lived as ling in Maine as he did i Georgia and Alabama. I will ONLY call it a buggy. Not a wagon, not a cart. Only. Ever. A. Buggy. My kids will be Mainers if I don’t change something in a hurry, but they are Mainers who bring Publix bags to Shaw’s and push around their buggies.
    No comment on a bad Publix, though. Our perspective is so skewed I simply can’t fathom it!

  27. We don’t have those stores in PA but seriously every time I see that name in my mind I say pubic.

  28. I saw a size 2 tshirt at goodwill last week that read “I take the joy out of shopping”. Where was it when my kids were little at home? We didnt have gigantic carts OR dvd players in our car either back then. It was like pioneer days !

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