Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2019

Archive for the category “Shopping”

Pick Up In Aisle Seven

WE GET ON A PLANE AND FLY ACROSS THE OCEAN to another country where we expect things to be different and they are in many ways. Despite this thought there is a mountain of ways where the differences are merely cosmetic at best.

Back home in HoosierLand (AKA Indiana) when I have the need to go grocery shopping I just hop into the Toyota Stretch Limo and zip down the street to the Kroger Supermarket. In Ireland the differences are minimal. Instead of Kroger we go into the Tesco Supermarket where I can find everything I need. It might take a bit of a search, but I can find it all eventually. I go to Kroger and I leave happy. I go to Tesco and I leave happy.

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It Is Not As Easy As It Looks

 

SEND OUT THE SEARCH DOGS I THINK I’M LOST. My surroundings look familiar, but different. Nothing is where I know it should be. I have never been as disoriented as I am on this trip into an unfamiliar supermarket. Help me!

I am so comfortable in my own personal Kroger store. I could find my way through that store blindfolded, but when we are down south in Texas I am sent figuratively naked and afraid into the Terra Incognita of the local H.E.B grocery store.

(For those of you residing outside of Texas – “H.E.B.” are the initials of the founder of the chain of stores strewn across the state. They don’t stand for anything like “Hellaciously Evil Brotherhood.”)

Trying to find my favorite bagels or canned soup in the H.E.B. is beyond my ability. The odds are somewhere on the side favoring me finding the Ark of the Covenant first. It can’t be done. They don’t carry the brand of bagels that I like anyway and in the soup aisle nothing looks like anything I want in my favorite Hopalong Cassidy bowl at lunchtime.

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Don’t Be A Smarty…Unless You’re A Television

ON THE WHOLE I DON’T MIND GOING SHOPPING. I actually like tooling around the supermarket looking at all the things I don’t want. I have a lower level of “like” when it comes to shopping for clothes. Doing that is just a necessary pain in the tookus.

Even farther down on the Krafty Scale of Shopping is going out looking for things about which I am awash in ignorance.

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Throwback Thursday from May 2016 – “Little Things Mean A Lot”

 

Throwback Thursday from May 2016 – “Little Things Mean A Lot”

Spending a week or two in a foreign land is one thing, but going for seven weeks changes the way you see and do things.

Being in Ireland brings to mind an old quote from, I forget whom – Maybe Mark Twain, maybe Winston Churchill, maybe the Spice Girls,- that noted that, “The U.S. and the U.K. (forgive me if I lump Ireland into that mix) are two great nations separated by a common language.” I say this because, just as at home, there is more than one accent in play. It all depends on what part of the country you are in and your social status.

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Throwback Thursday from March 2017 – “Three Little Words”

Throwback Thursday from March 2017 – “Three Little Words”

 

Three Little Words

dnraI KNOW A YOUNG BLOGGER, whose work I really enjoy. Recently she mentioned that she had decided to sign a “DNR” form. For the uninitiated “DNR” stands for “Do Not Resuscitate.” It is an alert to medical personnel that the person who signed the form does not want any measures, like CPR, to be taken to keep them alive if their heart stops beating or they stop breathing. Serious business.

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I’ve known a number of people who have signed “DNR” forms. They all had their reasons, but most of them were terminally ill and a “DNR” is a legal document. I do not have a “DNR” form. I also have my reasons.

There are any number of reasons to not sign such a form. One of them is specific to Indiana. Here in the Hoosier State the Abbreviation “DNR” also stands for the “Department of Natural Resources.” Such a redundancy could cause some really confusing situations.

For example – You might wish to sign a “DNR” so that, when the time comes, you could go quietly into that good night. – And accidentally find yourself being sworn in as an Indiana Park Ranger. Or it could go the other direction which could be even more upsetting, depending on your long range plans.

dnr3My own personal reason for not signing a “DNR” – the hospital one – is that I’m not knowingly ready to shuffle off my mortal coil. There are things I still want to do, places to visit, and books to read and write. It’s not so much a “Bucket List” like in the movie as it is a shopping list of things I want to pick up and carry with me. And I have no desire to become a Park Ranger. So me signing anything with the initials DNR on it is not likely for any time in the foreseeable future.dnr5

I’m not concerned about any sudden reversal of fortune when it comes to my health. Every morning when my eyelids open up like a pair of electric garage doors I say a short prayer. I’m not asking God for anything. It’s just a simple, “Thank You.” That’s all I need to say. He can fill in the unspoken blanks. Just “Thank you.” So I don’t feel the need for anything as final as a “DNR.”

That morning when the young blogger talked about her “DNR” decision we chatted a bit about it all. I told her why I didn’t have one as well. If I had been thinking quicker I would have come up with something witty and ever so clever as a retort. Well, following true to form, I did come up with something. I tried it out on one of The Usual Suspects over coffee.

dnr4I brought up the idea of the “DNR” and he followed my lead. He asked me if I had signed one. I recoiled in mock horror and told him than instead of a “DNR” I had signed a “PFGSRMNYOB” Form.

“A What?” he asked

“A ‘PFGSRMNYOB’ form.”

“What in the world does that mean?”

“Oh, that’s a special form that I designed myself.

“‘PFGSRMNYOB’ – ‘Please, For God’s Sake, Resuscitate Me Now You Overpaid Bastard’.”

Good morning and Thank You again.

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I Think I Remember…

PASSWORDS – LOVE ‘EM, HATE ‘EM, CAN’T REMEMBER THEM. All I can do is forget them.

The discussion this morning at my Play Group (St. Arbucks morning coffee) was all about computer passwords and all of our problems with them. One of the Usual Suspects who shows up every morning for coffee and pointless conversation was wrapped up in mind numbing problems remembering his computer passwords. The ones he could recall were no longer in use and it was bringing his life to a screeching halt.

I tried to help. He’ll get over it and resume speaking to me eventually.

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Throwback Thursday from January 2016 – “Cereal Killer On The Loose”

Throwback Thursday from January 2016

Cereal Killer On The Loose

TOO MUCH EDUCATION CAN BE A DANGEROUS THING.

I know a person with a graduate degree in finance from an Ivy League school. He can squeeze so much value out of a dime that it makes FDR get up and walk.

Now, I like saving money as much as the next guy – maybe a bit more even. I grew up poor with cardboard in my shoes to cover the holes. Even today, at an overripe old age, I still wince whenever I spend money. But, the fellow of whom I speak has elevated money-saving to an Art.

Coupons 1

Earlier this week he told me of his latest trip to Kroger’s to buy some breakfast cereal. He had some coupons in his hand.

When he got to the Cereal Aisle he saw that the object of his hunt was also being discounted. He smiled I’m sure, bordering on a leer.

Many of the “discounts” on the store shelves are as phony as a politician’s promise – The item sells regularly for $1.49, they change it to $1.79 and slap on another tag reading, “Marked Down to $1.49!” Instant Non-Discount.

Sometimes the discounts are real – usually because a buyer screwed up and they are stuck with ten truckloads of the stuff. Of course, some discounts arise after a news report says that the product can make your kids grow extra thumbs or decide to go to college and major in “Organic Bongs of Medieval Japan.”

Back to my tale of Nuclear Couponing in the Cereal Aisle.

In addition to your garden variety discount was another tag offering even bigger markdowns if you bought the cereal boxes 10 at a time. The buyer must have really screwed up. My Friend The Shopper felt like he had just found the Lost Dutchman Mine. He made a trip to chat with the store manager to verify that everything, as he saw it, was kosher. The Manager said that he was entitled to all of the posted discounts – plus – another “Instant Coupon” that would be given to him upon checkout. The coupons he walked in with were those super-duper double coupons and all of this back and forth with the store manager meant that he was getting into some serious high finance negotiations with Kroger’s. For a guy with a degree from Columbia University and a resume that includes a lengthy stint on Wall Street, this was heaven.

Cutting to the chase!

This man, who just wanted to buy some breakfast cereal for himself and his daughter, ended up walking back to his

triple

car with 48 boxes of Post and Kellogg cereals – and a bottle of cranberry juice.

He hadn’t really wanted the cranberry juice, but after the dust settled at the checkout cash register, the store owed him $1.79.

The Manager was concerned that the Home Office in Cincinnati might pop an aneurism if the transaction showed up as a negative cash flow. To circumvent this he grabbed a bottle of cranberry juice off the shelf that cost $1.79 and they called the whole deal a push.

When I heard him tell this story my first thought was, “I hope you and your daughter really like cereal, because you’re going to be eating it every day for a year.

As he told this story I could see a fire in his eyes. This experience has spawned a monster. He said that he has found a cable TV show all about serious “couponing” and “It’s really interesting.”

I told him that I thought it all seemed like something that ended up with a very cult-like fanaticism.

If he keeps up with this “couponing”, I half expect him to shave his head, move to Battle Creek, and start banging a tambourine at the airport.

“Om, mane pay me coupon om.”

Gift Wrap This

 

HAVE YOU FINISHED YOUR CHRISTMAS SHOPPING YET? If you have I raise a glass in your honor. Please understand that “Finished Shopping” doesn’t mean getting a bunch of Starbucks Gift Cards on Christmas Eve. Serious shopping means getting down into the trenches at The Mall or the big Wally World type stores. “Shopping” isn’t shopping unless you’ve had your feet stepped on at least twice and had a possible gift ripped from your hands by a wild-eyed, liquor-fueled, grandmother. Shopping in The Mall isn’t complete until you’ve seen some little rugrat puking all over the Temp Agency Santa Claus.

Ahhh, the Holiday Season.

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Throwback Thursday From November 2015 – “There Is Music In The Air”

Throwback Thursday From November 2015 –

 

There Is Music In The Air

SOMETIMES I THINK THAT HEARSAY IS BETTER than actually being a witness to something. A couple of nights ago was one of those times.

Now, I want to put a Caveat, with a capital C, in play here. The following anecdote was told to me by one of the notorious Usual Suspects. For that reason alone I take it all with a fifty pound salt lick. A grain of salt is just not enough.

Let me begin.

Yesterday morning, when I went down to St. Arbucks for a gallon or two of coffee, I was met by a collection of the Usual Suspects who were allowed out unsupervised. And I made the mistake of asking, “What’s new?”

Suspect #1 spoke up, saying that he had been shopping at the Kroger’s Supermarket the evening before at about 8 P.M. so he could find some bargains and/or rain checks. He is a financial wizard.

While prowling through the store he witnessed a disturbance near the front of the store. On the pathway toward the checkout area is where one can find bins filled with CDs and DVDs at bargain prices. This time of year it is mainly Christmas music and warmed over Hallmark Channel movies mixed in with a few oldies that are in the Public Domain.

Our Suspect #1 was nearby and saw a youngish man going through the CDs and DVDs, opening the boxes, taking out the shiny discs, and then snapping them in half and flinging the pieces into the air with great glee – all the while yelling incoherently.

It sounds like the Holiday Season has arrived in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “I don’t want a colorized version of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ dammit”).  

Behavior such as this young man was exhibiting in Kroger’s would indicate to me that one or more of several things were going on in his mind.

His meds were either wearing off or just kicking in.

His meds were accidentally left behind on his home planet.

He had convinced his Meth dealer to take a check.

He was the new film critic for the local newspaper.

(Personally, I doubt that this last one was it because the only film reviews they do are of the occasional student film that was created by the offspring of somebody who buys a lot of ad space, and you won’t find any DVDs of those in the Kroger’s Bargain Bin.)

When I used to live on The Left Coast events like this one were not at all unusual in the Supermarkets – especially after dark. I think the moon may have some effect on those who are pharmaceutically enhanced.

I once visited a now defunct market late one Saturday night. I ended up in the checkout line behind a guy who was deep in the throes of the Midnight Munchies. As his desperately needed supply of Ruffles, Little Debbie Cakes, and Pickle Loaf moved down the conveyor belt something either very good or very bad happened and he passed out and hit the moving belt with his face. The clerk didn’t miss a beat as she rang up his purchases. When she got to his head she stopped, bent over and asked him, “Paper or Plastic?” That was enough to rouse him.

“Plastic, man.”

Usual Suspect #1’s story about his visit to Kroger’s brought back that old memory to me from long ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

Suspect #1 finished his story telling us that it ended as it had to end – the Terre Haute Police came and escorted the disgruntled shopper from the store. I’m sure that, when the officers wrote up their report it carried the Code “5150” – Involuntary Psychiatric Hold.

Some things you just know are going to happen.

It is episodes such as this that have me doing our shopping no later than 6 P.M. unless it is an emergency pizza and soda run. I’ve seen too much, stepped over too many people slumped in the checkout line, and ducked too often to avoid flying pieces of the Johnny Mathis Christmas Album.

I can handle another, “Do You Hear What I Hear?” but I dread hearing someone again saying, “Are you seeing what I’m seeing?”

It’s A Calling

 

I SPENT A HEALTHY PORTION OF YESTERDAY AFTERNOON being dragged, kicking and screaming, into the world of the Best Buy Electronics store.

I bought a new phone and now I am completely out of touch with the rest of the world and poorer by a few million dollars.

It really wasn’t in my plans for the day to be going phone shopping, but my old phone had other ideas. When I say my “Old Phone” I’m not just casually tossing around words. My phone that I had comfortably tucked in my little belt holster was a Samsung 4. That was a “New Phone” back sometime in the Carter Administration or thereabouts. I had that phone a loooong time and it was starting to show its age.

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Clean – Up In Aisle Seven!

IT USED TO BE THAT EVERY TOWN HAD A “FIVE AND DIME” STORE. Well, inflation took care of that. Now we have “Dollar Stores” which vainly attempt to be what Woolworth’s and the others used to be. Until the Dollar General puts in a lunch counter I will not accept them as the worthy heirs.

While there may be a number of Dollar Stores in every town, village and wide spot in the road in the country they are little more than Garage Sales with a neon sign. Much of their merchandise carries labels that I do not recognize – and that does not induce confidence in me. Sorry, but I don’t like “gummi bears” anyway.

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I Can Do This By Myself

I HAVE A BEARD. I have had a beard for most of my adult life. I grew it first for a show while I was in college and, except for short periods, I have kept it.

Over the years I have had it longer, then shorter, then just a goatee, then full tilt boogie again. When I first grew it my beard was dark, now it is white. It gives me that “I have to go feed the reindeer look.”

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One Way To Ruin My Mood

 

I CAN UNDERSTAND THAT DESPERATE TIMES sometimes can call for desperate measures, but…

The other day while I was going up and down the aisles at my local Kroger supermarket I was confronted with just such a situation, or at least that what I was supposed to think.

As I was pushing my cart up the aisle past the pickles I saw a man with a cart coming the other way. His cart was empty and he was pulling a small wagon behind him. In the wagon was a small child, a toddler.

When the man (in his 30s I’d say) pulled up next to me he asked me if I had a dollar and could he have it? This guy was rolling through the store panhandling.

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It’s Labor Day – Take It Easy

TODAY IS THE FIRST MONDAY IN SEPTEMBER – LABOR DAY. It is a celebration of the Working Man and Woman in America. They are honored by having most people take the day off.

The first official Labor Day was in 1887 in New York City organized by a couple of labor unions. We still celebrate it today even though the number of people who are union members is a bit over 10% of all workers. That number peaked about 60 years ago when about a third of all American with jobs held membership cards in one union or another. The reasons for the decline are many and likely to get me beat up if I discuss them here.

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They Are All Disappearing

I SAW A NEWS STORY THE OTHER DAY that made me get all misty-eyed and nostalgic. A wonderful piece of my life was disappearing and there was nothing I could do about it.

I got my first VCR back in the early 1980s in the days of my callow middle-age. I wanted a quality machine so I bought a really nice Betamax VCR. After I got it hooked up to my Sylvania SuperSet I had everything I needed for countless hours of cinematic pleasure…except for one thing. That was where I had to fire up the car and head out to – BLOCKBUSTER VIDEO!

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In The Good Old Summertime

 

IT MAY BE MID-SUMMER AND WE ARE MORE THAN HALFWAY THROUGH THE YEAR. But it’s no big deal. It just makes things a little herky-jerky for the world. Not the whole world.

Actually, it’s only me.

The midpoint of summer comes around the end of July, early August. But the real midpoint, astronomically, is at the start of summer – since then the hours of sunlight get shorter by a few minutes each day. That is not a good sign.

In Baseball, the All Star Game is considered the halfway point of the season. It’s not. That came with Game #81 which was played a couple of weeks ago.

It’s like telling a person who is 55 years old that they are “Middle Aged.” Sure they are – if they have plans of making it to 110 candles on their cake.

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“Mane And Tail” Is Not An Intersection

 

I’LL BE THE FIRST TO ADMIT IT – I am a person who is easily amused. I laugh at “Knock, Knock” jokes. “Animal House” is one of my favorite movies. I can be heard laughing out loud as I walk up and down the aisles in one of those huge Mega-Stores like Wal-Mart and Meijer’s. I find them very entertaining.

Last week my wife, the lovely and much more commercially sophisticated, Dawn, and I were pushing our shopping cart through our nearby Meijer store in search of…all sorts of stuff. Dawn is shopping while I am browsing. She is looking for a good price on Pork Chops while I am wondering how many of those “Happy 100th Birthday!” cards they sell.

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Throwback Thursday from July 2015 – “But Wait! There’s More!”

 

Throwback Thursday from July 2015 – “But Wait! There’s More

But Wait! There’s More!

infomercialI WAS SITTING AT THE KITCHEN TABLE the other morning, minding my own business and eating some grapes, when I turned on the TV and came in halfway through an Infomercial.

The format is always the same – one guy and one gal acting as if their conversation is completely ad libbed. Sure it is. These mini-dramas are scripted out by a team of advertising copy writers who try so hard to be creative. They fail every time. Most of the time these actors sound like they are just coming out from under heavy anesthesia.

I immediately recognized the guy part of the infomercial pair. That is his picture up top. I’m sure he came to Hollywood with the dream of being the next Spencer Tracy or Vin Diesel. Instead he has landed the plum role of “The Guy” in about 47 different infomercials over the years.

So much for Art.

In most of his infomercial gigs he portrays a guy who is mildly stupid and needs to be enlightened by “The Gal” about the earthshaking benefits of whatever trashy product they are selling. I can’t believe he is really that dense. If he was that thick between the ears he would never have survived so long. He would have been distracted by a shiny object and wandered out into traffic or died horribly in his own apartment because he ignored the warning to, “Don’t try this at home!”

He must be a better actor than I’m giving him credit for – or he has an off-screen helper who keeps him fed and away from potentially dangerous home appliances. I’m not sure.

My point being –

This poorly acted and written infomercial that I chanced to bump into while eating grapes, on July 16, 2015, was showcasing the ease, importance and beauty of Outdoor Christmas Lighting so I could turn our home from simply being a boring “baby poop yellow” into a neighborhood shocking light show that would scare the neighbor’s dogs and probably be visible from space.

This infomercial went a bit farther than most by having “unpaid testimonials from satisfied customers.”

They showed the exterior of a house that looked as if it was being invaded by Smallpox pustules that could crawl around over your siding at will. It was spooky.

When they interviewed a woman who claimed to be the home owner she seemed not only overjoyed, but seriously overdosed. Lord knows what she was seeing. She sang the praises of the lighting gizmo that did this to her house, exclaiming how much she enjoyed having strangers come down her street and drive slowly past her home. In most neighborhoods that kind of activity would generate phone calls to the Police.

To me it all looked like a prelude to a drive-by shooting.

OK, so this was just another infomercial for yet another product that I neither want, need or would take as a gift. I didn’t stop eating my grapes and I didn’t dial the toll free number at the bottom of my screen.

But wait! There’s more!

As I sat there watching this thing, that only needed Tap Dancing Zombies to make it worse, the one and only pertinent fact finally wormed its way to the surface of my consciousness:

It was July 16th for cryin’ out loud!

Why were these Morons of Marketing running this infomercial in the middle of Summer? It is 86 degrees outside, I’m wearing a Hawaiian Shirt and the dog next door is trying not to die from heat prostration.

Who in their right mind would be buying Christmas lights on July 16th?

Maybe the actor playing “The Guy?” He seems to be downright enthusiastic about the whole idea of turning his home into an eyesore. But, then again, he is getting paid to do this gig.

Now, this may seem callous, but here goes.

I hope that this actor’s parents are deceased. I say that because I hate to think that they would be watching this infomercial and have to endure the anguish of realizing that they paid a bloody fortune to send their boy to the Yale Drama School for four years and this infomercial is, very likely, the peak of his career. If they weren’t already deceased, seeing this infomercial might be enough to warrant the removal of any sharp objects from their home.

Their home – the one WITHOUT the friggin’ ugly Christmas lights infecting the neighborhood.

Throwback Thursday – From June 2015 – “A Rose Is A Rose Is A .357 Magnum”

 

A Rose Is A Rose Is A .357 Magnum

magazine rackI WAS WANDERING through the recently reconfigured aisles of the Kroger’s Supermarket this morning. Whenever they do make changes like that it takes a while for me to be able to find anything again. I end up having to go up and down all the aisles. I know that having me do that is the objective, but if I haven’t purchased canned lychee nuts  in the last forty years I probably won’t be doing so anytime soon.

While I was cruising and looking for the rice I happened to pass the Magazine display. I hadn’t seen that before so I stopped and perused the selection of things I wouldn’t be purchasing.

There must be 300 different magazines there. I haven’t heard of 98% of them.

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The Play’s The Thing Wherein I’ll Catch The Conscience Of The King

SOMETIMES I AM MY OWN SANTA CLAUS! I hadn’t planned on it. It just happened as a byproduct of finally doing something I should have done ages ago.

My desk usually looks like Dresden after World War Two. Calling it a pile of rubble is generous. It had reached the point where I didn’t know what was stacked up there. Anyway – the other day I was looking for a small pocket knife that I know had been on my desk at some time in the past. I was rooting around when I saw something that was held together with a rubber band. It looked like a bundle of plastic cards. I gave up on the knife. It will work its way to the surface at some point, but the plastic cards had my attention for the moment.

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