I could see he was fumbling for it, so I blurted out, “4549”!
“You know this stuff, eh”, he acknowledged with a grin.
“I should, I get broccoli every week. Yams, 4817, cauliflower 4079. Every week, they’re on her list. Grapes, 4023. Every week, same thing. And I don’t deviate. It’s one of the benefits of coming here, brain training”.
With a smile of approval and freshly printed price sticker, he steered his small cart to bananas, 4011, but not before professing his status as a neophyte in this grocery shopping game. Professing wasn’t necessary, not knowing the broccoli code was a dead giveaway.
It’s true, though, grocery shopping is a game, a numbers game and a theatre game: codes, weights and measurements, BOGOs, coupons, increases and decreases, mostly the former as inflation becomes an even bigger number. Know the numbers and you’ll save time.
A theatre game, too, almost a contact sport, with participants panning out around the partitioned layout like pawns on a puzzle board. Step back, yourself, and watch.
Some shoppers attack the store with, seemingly, no semblance of order, helter-skelter, snaring items off the shelf and into the cart, sometimes without even looking. Always in a hurry.
“Out of my way, where’s the Guiness”, I imagine them saying.
At $10.99/6 pack, 72 ounces, that’s a much higher number than gas at $4.07/g, 128 ounces. Oddly, no one complains. It’s beer!
Others shoppers, like me, take their time. I’m deliberate because I’m a gabber, I’ll talk to anyone who might slow down or be idling nearby. The speeders detest my type, we interfere with their plan, ‘get in, grab it and get out’. My MO is ‘stroll in, search for stuff and socialize’. That’s why I save frozen to the end.
Then, there’s the checkout. I have favorite cashiers, they know my act.
“Paper, please, and every space is a new bag”, as I empty my cart.
The smart cashiers like my system, it’s one less thing they have to think about, the bags weigh less, and I can transfer items into the fridge and cabinets faster at home because I organized it on the belt. I might pay a couple of extra nickels for bags, but that, too, is part of the numbers game, time management.
Shoppers behind me often change lines. Probably the speeders.
Last stop, the Service Desk to pick the winning numbers.
“Two lottery tickets, please. looks like a big number for tonight’s drawing”,
“Sure is, but you know the odds for winning don’t favor you”.
I didn’t have to be reminded, of course I know the odds, I’m a numbers guy. But you don’t win if you don’t play. And, if I do win, well…..
…that’ll be the biggest number.
To fellow shoppers who enjoy the game and know your numbers. If you see me at Wegmans, stop and chat.