Five of the Week #1

Damn, it’s been a long time since I wrote something. Well, here I write again and I’m going to do it more regularly, I promise. My plan is (yes, I actually have one 😉 ) to post an entry at least once a week. How I will manage that? I chose to start a category called “Five of the Week” which I will post each Wednesday and which will be about…yeah, what will it actually be about? It will be about different things I encounter in my daily life, some more special than others. Nevertheless, they’ll all be personal. But maybe it’s better to start and let you see what I mean than to lose myself in explanations. So here I go with this Wednesday’s first topic: “Shopping”.

How often do you go shopping? As a student I often have to wait for my bus so I like passing my time strolling through the city’s shops observing people. I actually like sitting in a café for hours just watching people passing by or sitting in the same café because they do the funniest and strangest things when they feel unwatched. So, when I went shopping on Monday (the real shopping, not the pass-my-time shopping-observing thing) I saw a lot of people and how differently they behaved. That was when I got my “shopping epiphany” leading me to starting this category. This week’s five will be about the five different kinds of buyers I mostly encountered.

1. The Focussed
This is a person approaching and entering the shop with a purpose. He already got his trolley token (the one he always uses) ready while checking which cart is the cleanest. Entering the shop he pulls out his shopping list and works it off systematically. Of course this list isn’t ordered randomly. On the contrary, the focussed is guided through the aisles by it, going from the entrance to the register and only buying what’s on it – nothing more, nothing less. It seems this type of shopper knows the fastest way through the supermarket. Approaching the register he uses his trained eye to figure out where to queue without losing too much time. Of course he has his money counted and ready when it’s his turn to pay. Having done so he packs the goods into the brought shopping bags to not have to pack it into the trunk of his car because then he would have to take the shopping cart back (which would be an unnecessary detour costing time).

2. The Frantic
This type of shopper often enters a supermarket ten minutes before closing time because he got his daily schedule all messed up (as always). He has no more idea of what he wanted to buy, he just knows there is something missing in his fridge, freezer or supply cabinet. Rushing through the aisles, the frantic is bombarded with evil looks by the employees seeing the end of their work day in danger. However, the frantic continues his search desperately trying to remember what was written on the list he forgot at home/work or lost somewhere along the way. When he has finally found what he needs he sprints to the register realizing he forgot his wallet. After fetching it from the car, pissing off even more employees and finally paying the frantic heads home where he becomes aware of having forgotten half of what he needed to buy.

3. The Single Parent
Single parents, be it mothers or fathers, very often have two children, mostly a boy and a girl. They come into the supermarket in the evening because mommy or daddy just finished work and collected the kids from the day care center. As both, the children as well as the parent, are stressed after a long day there are two typical shopping scenes about to evolve.

a) The children, who were tired and whining at the entrance, see the toy section and are immediately up and away. The parent, too tired to hold them back, only calls after them to stay there because he/she is going to pick them up soon. Having finished shopping half-heartedly but dutifully, the parent heads back to the toy section where the kids are already waiting to let the parent know “I want this”, “Can I have that, please?” and so on. After some pleading and looking puppy-eyed the parent usually gives in to avoid arguing in front of other people and because he/she is simply too stressed to argue. At the register the children are either quiet or they get a chocolate bar so they are quiet, mommy/daddy pays and off they go.

b) This situation develops similar to the first one until it comes to the “showdown” in the toy department. The kids aks if they can have this or that and the parent refuses. This leads to the kids asking and pleading and the parent refusing again. Now comes the point where a switch is flicked in the childrens’ heads and they start screaming and protesting. Some even throw themselves on the ground adding some kicking to their screaming. The outcome of this situation depends on the parent. While one gives in just so the children are quiet, the other one ignores the children until they follow him/her to the register. The third kind of parent yells back and the children are shocked, anxious and keep quiet for the rest of the day.

4. The Thorough/The Scrimper
Here we have a kind of shopper who can stay from half an hour upwards in a shop because he, like the focussed, systematically works his way through the aisles. The thorough also works off his list one by one but he likes to examine the goods carefully. For example, when the thorough wants to buy a bar of chocolate he may act like this: he takes one nar and looks at the (for him) most important facts of the nutritional information. Then he takes the next one and repeats this over and over again comapring the facts until he has found the (again for him) ultimate bar of chocolate with as few calories and as much taste as possible. He deals with the rest of his list in the same way. If the thorough is a scrimper at the same time, he will not only compare the products to each other but also their prices. A scrimper knows a lot of prices and where to get which product at which price. Therefore he often frequents several shops before having worked off his list completely. At the register he will pay the exact sum which is why he holds up the queue collecting his money “I think I have a cent somewhere in my wallet” and things like this. In many cases this leads to evil looks and comments from other shoppers like “Come on, you’re wasting my time!” After paying the thorough will pack his bags while controlling the receipt. Woe betide any cashier who made a mistake. The thorough will find it. However, if he’s done with shopping the thorough will go home knowing he bought only the best products (and saved a lot of money if he is a scrimper, too)

5. The Newbies
Those people are often students (yeah, I know what I wrote above :-P) or single fathers (yes, I’ve seen my share of them) who for the first time have to stand on their own two feet. You can recognize them by having a look into their shopping carts. These carts often look like patched together in an act of desperation. Single fathers and, even more, students often buy cheap frozen food which tastes bad but fulfills its purpose: occupying the stomach long enough to not feel hungry. Nothing against eating some pizza and whathaveyou but if your microwave becomes chef of your kitchen there is definetely something going wrong. However, with their easy-to-cook-difficult-to-spoil attitude they feel totally confident. So, why change the usual? At the register it can happen that both parties don’t have enough money with them so that they have to leave some things in the shop or “go ’round the corner to withdraw some bucks” which will lead to the same evil looks and comments the thorough has to endure.

Well, that’s it.

Do you have any experiences with these different types of shoppers? Do you know another type? How would you describe your shopping habits (honest people please step forward :-))?


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