The 14 Most Annoying People You Encounter at the Grocery Store


Once upon a time, I wrote a story about grocery shopping with six kids. I figured my adventures in shopping were way too much fun to keep to myself. If I had to suffer through enjoy the experience, I decided I should share it so everyone could commiserate enjoy it with me. The piece went viral with over 100,000 people reading it in the first week. Clearly, shopping with kids is something any parent can relate to. Most of us would rather stab ourselves in the eye with a sharp stick, watch back-to-back episodes of Honey Boo Boo, or do 4th grade math than drag a bunch of kids with us to the grocery store, but there comes a time when you’re peering in the fridge and wondering what you can make with ketchup, half an onion, and Italian dressing, that you decide you can no longer put off going to the store.

I’ve been the mom with the kid having a meltdown in the middle of the cereal aisle, and I may possibly have been guilty of oh say, texting and shopping a time or twenty in the past. I’m not perfect and I’ve been guilty of some of these transgressions myself. Still, despite that, I’ve turned into that crazy old lady who is easily annoyed by the people around her. I’ve created a veritable dichotomous key to classify the annoying people you encounter while shopping. Shhhhh, we don’t have to tell anyone if we fit into any of these categories. It’ll be our little secret.

1.  The Underage Driver

Despite their overwhelming cuteness, these are particularly dangerous shoppers. This includes the under-10 set who like to push the cart. Into the shelves. Into the displays of artfully arranged baked goods. Into your ankles. Repeatedly.

2.  The Aisle Hogger

These are the folks who push their carts down the middle of the aisle, blocking the entire thing. Woe to the person in a hurry behind them. They will also leave their carts haphazardly parked in the aisle, taking enough space for a stretch limo, a Beluga whale, and a caravan of camels while they search for their brand of Thousand Island dressing.

3.  The Nutritionist

This is the savvy shopper I wish I was, but sadly am not. This shopper knows what they want and has all the time in the world to find it. They read every label thoroughly until they find the item that contains no gluten, trans-fat, dairy, tree nuts, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, MSG, BHT, NBC, or ESPN. They’re focused on their mission and can’t always pull themselves away from their labels to make room for you to grab your sugar-fried lard from the shelf by them.

4.  The Coupon Queen

I admit I’m super envious of those who can check out with $429.85 worth of merchandise, paying only $5.97. That being said, I dread getting stuck behind these people in line because couponing is a serious business and they approach the check-out with a solemn determination to save every penny they can, even if it takes 45 minutes, three managers, 12 price checks, and one temper tantrum from the person (me) behind them.

5.  The “Can You Hear Me Now?”

This shopper is the guy or gal who walks through the store on their cell phone. As a very busy, single mom of six kids, I understand the need to multitask and have been known to make a phone call while shopping myself. Seeing a shopper on the phone, in and of itself, doesn’t annoy me. Listening to a shopper swear, loudly discuss their sex life (or lack thereof), obnoxiously make plans to “party” this weekend, or discuss the results of their colonoscopy, on the other hand, I find highly annoying.

6.  The Oblivious

This is my least favorite shopper of all. Ms. Oblivious can fall into several of the above categories. This shopper is blissfully unaware that they share this planet with other people. They don’t hear your “excuse me” from behind. They don’t realize they’re blocking the aisle. They’re clueless to the fact that you’re patiently waiting to grab something from the shelf where they’re standing. They butt in and interrupt you as you’re placing your deli order so they can ask the difference between the potato salads. In short, they have all the consideration of a rock.

7.  The Slumber Party

This shopper can’t be bothered to get dressed. They wander the aisles wearing their flannel pants and oversized T-shirt that proclaims they’re not a morning person, in search of chocolate and wine. (At least that’s the only reason I go to the store in my pajamas. I mean, that’s the only reason I would go to the store in my pajamas. You know, hypothetically speaking. Ahem.)

8.  The DCFS Case

Hey, we’ve all had those moments in the store where our kids are lying on the floor, kicking and screaming because we did something so heinous, so diabolical as to say, “No, you can’t have 15 boxes of cereal” or “Stop licking the shopping cart.” It happens. But sometimes you see a parent disciplining their child in a way that straddles the border between making you feel darn good about your own parenting and making your fingers twitch to speed dial Child Protective Services.

9.  The Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That

This shopper is on a mission to get in and get out. They know what they want and they will not be tempted by the circulars hanging on the wall of the entrance, or the bins of BOGO deals they pass on their way to buy a gallon of 2% milk, only a gallon of 2% milk, and nothing but a gallon of 2% milk. They will run you over should you get in their way.

10.  The Clubber

I’ve always heard that the grocery store is a great place to pick up people. I’ve personally never picked up a guy at the grocery store. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that I have a mild, almost indiscernible case of road rage while navigating the aisles of any given store, or the fact that my cart is filled with chocolate and wine. But some people make it blatantly obvious that they view their local supermarket as a club, what with their four-inch heels, short sequined dress, and false eyelashes. (That was totally not written by a bitter, single mom shopping for wine in flannel pj bottoms, by-the-way.)

11.  The Abandoner

This shopper apparently can’t make up his mind. This is why you always see random bags of marshmallows stashed among the cans of corn, or a box of tampons abandoned amid the bags of bagels. Someone changes their mind and decides they don’t need the calories, or they conclude they’re much too embarrassed to check out with a box of tampons for their wife and they stash the items wherever they happen to be when they have a change of heart. Sometimes they abandon their cart altogether. I can understand the abandoners when they’re removing bags of candy from their “sticky-fingered” toddlers, or leaving a cart full of groceries behind in order to remove a screaming infant from the store. But I don’t understand other people. What are you thinking? Why do you do this? Really, inquiring minds want to know.

12.  The Weary Husband

You can identify this guy by the defeated, vacant look in his eyes. This poor guy is following his wife around as she makes all the shopping decisions. He’d rather be at the bar watching football with his buddies, or at home fiddling around with his car, or hurling himself in front of a speeding train than following his wife around while she talks to herself about this week’s menus, or as she asks him to hold her purse as she tries on clothes and then asks him if they make her butt look big.

13.  The Reunion Goers

These folks don’t go to the store with the intention of annoying everyone in their paths, but they run into someone they haven’t seen for a while and must stop and chat with them. Right there. In the middle of the aisle. No, no don’t bother scooting over out of the way of other shoppers while you catch up with each other. Nope, don’t worry about me, er, um, I mean the poor woman with the pajamas, chocolate, and wine who is trying to get past you. Never mind her. You just keep on gossiping about that football coach who is having an affair with his cat.

14.  The Tantrum Throwers

If you have kids, you’ve been there. Your kid sees a cute little kitty on a box and starts screaming for the item. It doesn’t matter how many times you explain to him that the item in question is cat food and you don’t own a cat, nor do you have any plans of getting one any time soon. Or ever. Unfortunately, logic doesn’t work on three year olds so he proceeds to throw himself down and mop the floor with his back as he spins around in an impressive maneuver while flailing his arms and legs around in crazy circles. Even for those of us who have moved beyond that age, we can usually empathize because we remember those days of wishing for a freak earthquake to swallow us whole. Despite the sympathizing, sometimes (like when we get out of the house without our own kids) it can be really annoying to hear someone else’s child going all Chernobyl in the middle of Publix, and it makes us want to shout, “Oh for crying out loud, give him the stinking cat food already! You can stop at the pet store on the way home for a cat!”


Image courtesy of ThinkStock

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