I know it’s a Sunday. I should have more patience for stupidity. Or should I? There should be a special category in the after-life for folks who knowingly insist on creating stupid rules. And worse, forcing their subordinates to apply them regardless of the consequences. Worse, when they are taken to the mat to explain why the rule could possibly be in any way NOT stupid, they stand there speechless and unable to even utter a lame defense for said stupid rule. When you combine stupid rules with a service industry, you better be prepared for equally stupid (better than violent) responses from customers. My personal chant this morning repeated in rapid succession in my brain was was “Silly Market, Silly Market, Silly Market…” which soon turned into “Stupid Market, Stupid Market, Stupid Market…” And here is why.
We needed a few items from the grocery this morning and stopped by the large grocery nearby. Thinking I only needed a basket to hold my stuff, I reached for the “basket carts” that had two blue plastic baskets nestled in them and proceeded to do our shopping. As almost always happens, I rapidly filled up both baskets to the brim with groceries, and just as they were about to fall out, decided we should check out. There were several people in the single line for “blue baskets” which were served by several check-out counters, but I noticed that one of several “large cart” lanes was completely free, with no other “large silver carts” and customers in sight. So naturally, thinking like any logical normal IQ shopper, I brought my blue basket cart to that line and started to unload.
The cashier gave me this look like I was a moron or something and said (translated) “you have to go to the blue cart lane only” to which I answered “there is no one on this lane, and I have more stuff than most people put in a silver cart, don’t you think you could just check me out here?” to which she said her supervisor would nail her if she did that. So understanding immediately that the cashier did not make the rules, I told her to call her supervisor, but in the meantime I asked why she couldn’t see why it made sense for her to just process this sale… Why the hell was the type of cart used MORE IMPORTANT than the volume of products being purchased? And worse, the cashier could have just been picking her nose, waiting for another large silver cart, while a long line formed for the blue basket lane?
But first, let me step back. The blue basket lanes or the express lanes or the 10 items or less lanes in groceries were designed precisely for folks which had only a few items, and in rapid succession they could be checked out WITHOUT having to wait behind serial grocery shoppers like myself that sometimes have 230 items piled into one cart. In other words, it is designed for the CONVENIENCE of the CUSTOMER. And there is a science to it… it’s called queueing theory. Groceries can logically ask folks with BIG FILLED carts not to use these express lanes as it could seriously screw up check-out speed for those who have a few items. However, this is the first time EVER ON THIS PLANET I have come across the opposite logic. In other words, being banned from a big cart lane when there were NO OTHER customers with big carts in sight. AND given the fact that I had more groceries in my two bloody blue baskets than most people had in their silver carts!
The supervisor, of course was NO WHERE to be found. Call, call, call on the phone. Raise ridiculous ping pong paddle looking thing in the air and a few minutes go by and the cashier absolutely refuses to check me out. And still no other silver cart shopper in sight. So, understanding the rule of law, I hastily ran to the entrance of the grocery, grabbed a silver cart, and brought it back to the cashier, parked it right under her nose, and told her to ring the grocieries up as I NOW HAD A BIG SILVER CART. Sorry, I know it sounds stupid. But not as stupid as the rule that started this whole episode off. The supervisor finally showed up and despite being asked to explain the logic of the rules, she COULD NOT UTTER A SINGLE SENTENCE in defense of the rule.
I told her that if I got a BIG SILVER CART and bought one package of instant noodles worth PHP5 and lined up at the big cart lane, she would have to check me out. Yes, was the logical answer. But now that I had two blue baskets filled with over PHP3,500 in groceries, they were making me wait 10 minutes instead? Blank stare. And forget the discussion over the silver cart lane being completely and utterly empty. And forget that no intelligent or normal IQ shopper in their right mind with 2 items would voluntarily choose to line up behind 8 heavily laden silver carts rather than behind 10 people in the express lanes with a few items each. I actually asked her if she thought it would be amusing if she had to go urinate in a public bathroom but the gatekeeper there told her she had to wait only for stall number 3 because that was the only stall for people wearing Stupid Market uniforms, and there were already 7 in line ahead of her… even though stalls number 1, 2 and 4 were utterly empty, but designated only for those with black pants, yellow shirts, and those needing to defecate and fart only.
Good grief. We do create some of the dumbest rules on the planet. And have they forgotten it is their job to serve the customer who is spending money to pay for their salaries? The moral of the story, and the stupid customer response? In an SM grocery, upon entry, ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS get a big mother of a silver cart. Then for good measure, throw in a blue basket in the undercarriage. So even if you only buy one item and notice the same situation I had, you can check out with your PHP5 instant noodles and stick to the rules. Or, if you notice the blue basket lane is shorter, throw your noodles into the blue basket and check out there. And don’t ask me what happens if you hand carry the package of noodles and DON’T HAVE a blue basket, because in theory, if they were sticklers for their own rules, you couldn’t buy it at all! Leave your silver cart for some SM employee to have to collect and put back in its place. Yes, only in the Philippines and only at Stupid Markets indeed.
P.S. If I had been more awake, rather than in a Sunday morning fog, I should have done this instead. Go run and get 10 big silver carts, then put one grocery item in each and check out, then get more 10 more carts and so on, and in that way, use up the time of one cashier for roughly 1 hour to check out some 78 times. Then pay with a large bill as many times as possible to finish off all their change. Refuse to give them any exact change. And when I ran out of large bills, switch to a credit card instead. Signing each and every time, waiting for bank approval. And using up 60+ multi-sheet carbonated credit card forms. And ask that each item be bagged separately. And have them bring it to the car and not necessarily tip the bagger. And THAT would be within the stupid rules. ARRRGGHHH. :)