a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Groaning In So Many Ways

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Groaning In So Many Ways

SUMMARY: Waking up to dogs, groceries, and death, and groaning in a major way at the very end.

I love waking up in the morning with my dogs. It's one of the few times of the day when they'll snuggle, and they're [mostly] so gentle at that time. Boost might stretch out while I'm stroking her face or her tummy, eyes closing blissfully. Tika for some reason will curl up right against my body until I'm fully awake, then move to where I can barely reach her with my fingertips and glare at me reproachfully if I don't pet her. She particularly likes having her face rubbed--I put my palm over her eyes, one thumb near one ear, middle finger near the other, and push and rub, and she presses her head into my hand and moves it around to get everything rubbed--or she wants her ears massaged, and leans into it, groaning. Ahhhh! That's the life.

Today was Michael Jackson's memorial service. Apparently millions of people, literally, tried to get tickets to be in the actual stadium for the 2-hour performance/service, and the whole thing was broadcast live over TV and radio. I groaned. Sad celebrity death, very talented but very odd man. Only 50. There have been four major untimely deaths in my lifetime that I remember clearly as being media circuses during and after, with worldwide outpouring of grief and dismay and coverage that went on for weeks afterward: John F. Kennedy (at 46), Elvis Presley (only 42), Princess Di (a mere 36), and now Michael Jackson, the old man in the crowd at 50, which, darn it, is younger than I am, and I still think of myself as young. Well--young enough.

I decided to hit the grocery stores, since there seemed to be a huge number of people (judging by their FaceBook entries) glued to the TV for the service. I tried to be efficient in 2 ways:

(1) First, I tried Safeway.com to pay to get my groceries delivered so I wouldn't have to drive 5 minutes to the store, go up and down the aisles, stand in line, and drive back. Would've probably taken 45 minutes for this trip. My past experience has been that it takes as long or longer to order online as to just find the stuff in the store, but every year or 2 I decide to try it again.

First, the interface wouldn't work with my browser. Took a while to figure that out, let's say 10 minutes. Switched to another browser.

Search for dairy. There, search for nonfat milk. There, scroll through the choices, of which there are a couple dozen, to find mine. Faster than going directly to the shelf where I always get my milk and popping it into the cart? Maybe not. AND I can't check the "use by date" but have to rely on their shopper to get me the freshest bottle. Search for "whole wheat sourdough bread". Only one choice comes up, no photo. Not sure it's the one I usually get. Waffle about whether to select it, but OK. Want some small bananas. Have to choose between regular and organic. have to type a note in a separate window saying "please choose really really small ones" except I apparently have only about 20 characters for "custom order info," so have to experiment with phrasing.

Am I saving time? OK, half an hour into this event, I've got 7 things in my shopping cart and I'm not done yet. Groaannnnn! Abandon ship!

(2) Drive to the store--Lucky's is next to my bank, so that's where I end up. Fill my cart halfway within about 10 minutes. There's only one checkout line open with 3 people standing in it, so I go to the self-checkout lanes, all of which are open. Figure it'll be faster, right?

To ensure that you aren't cheating, you swipe the item and then MUST put it onto the bagging area shelf, where it weighs it to be sure you're not sneaking in some unpaid extras. So what happens when I put my own shopping bag onto the shelf? Error! Clerk has to come clear it. I foolishly don't put all 4 bags onto the shelf to sit there and wait, so the clerk has to clear it again and then again when I add more of my own bags. Doh!

Next, you have to put each item onto the shelf before swiping the next one. So, sure, you can pick up 4 small items, but you must swipe, set it down, wait for acknowledgment, swipe, set it down, wait, etc. Not efficient. And you can't just put the big items like boxes of soda back into your cart; it won't progress until they're on the shelf with everything else.

Thirdly, for produce, you have to find the info in the database. Bananas are easy, they come up as "common items" on the first screen. But the cantaloupe? The clerk has to come tell me that it's under "melon", not under "cantaloupe." I have to search for Kiwi, then type in how many I've got. And so on.

Then I have to rearrange everything in the bags because I couldn't bag them in the most effective combinations while scanning them. Then into the cart. Not efficient. I groaned when the clerk had to come over to do special processing when I wanted to write a check; OK, I said to her, I guess this wasn't the wisest thing to do with this many items.

By the time I'm done with my 30 items or so, the one open checkout lane has processed probably 4 or 5 people. OK, I love the self-checkout for half a dozen or fewer items, but from now on, with more than that, it's the regular check-out lane.

Usually I take the merle girls with me when I go to the bank or shopping, and then we walk for 10 or 15 minutes in that area for something new to scratch and sniff. Today I didn't because it was a tad warm and I wasn't sure there'd be shade. There wasn't, and it took me long enough that I'm glad they stayed home. Dogs were happy to see me; annoyed that I then sat down at my computer again.

And now, I just wanted to share with you what some dogs have to put up with to get their four square meals a day, because it made my morning when I read it in the paper: Don't say I didn't warn you about the groaning.(Source: July 7 2009 strip at http://www.gocomics.com/duplex/.)


  1. Oooogh!

    About those online shopping and self-checkout thangs, *some* day they will become effective for busy people who are in a hurry.

    I've found that the online shopping thang is fine for shut-ins and moms with a bunch of kids (so she can load her cart in bursts during the quiet) and corporate admins. (Huh?!? you say?)

    I've worked in a few places that provide comestibles for the workers. In those situations, the admins order *everything* online: paper, pens, toner, binder clips, toaster waffles, Twizzlers, juice, coffee, milk, ...

    But for people like you and me? Naw. Faster, easier, *much* more efficient to get in the car. :-)

  2. During the few months while I was on disability with my back injury--difficult or impossible to drive, and per MD not supposed to be carrying groceries--shopping online was my best alternative. I've tried it from time to time since. Once, I was unhappy with almost all the produce choiced, I received a couple of things I hadn't ordered (and was charged for them), and missed a couple of things I had ordered. I did get a refund, but it was just another hassle. So--I keep hoping!

  3. My dogs, who fortunately like to snuggle at other times, usually decide that 6am (45 minutes before I usually wake up) is a fine time to wrestle loudly.

    i tried online shopping back in the days of Webvan (whose name I actually had to look up I must admit.) While I had good service from them, when I found myself single in 1998, I stopped with the silly extras that I could do myself (so of a join the Proletariat move - well except the guy that mows the lawn as that's really hard for me to keep up with) and haven't gone back even though now happily married because after 10 years of the site being empty, the heavens (ok, a developer and the city doing some arm twisting) dropped a Nob Hill right near my house.

    However, that said, I am a pro at self-checkout. It takes a while to get used to it, but now I can fly through there. Getting used to it took three times. Getting fast with it took around 10 times. And more importantly for me is that even if it didn't save time, it doesn't matter as it gives me something to do. :)

    One self checkout tip. You can place a bag there if you scan a relatively heavy item like milk, oj, meat or fruit first and then put the item in the bag and both on the scale. The weight of the bag is negligible them. Or just do the bagging after you're done.

  4. LOL - I think those of us that struggle through the self checking lanes at the grocery store should get a DISCOUNT for doing all the work ourselves!

  5. I'll never forget my first time in a self checkout. Good thing they had tutors for the first few weeks. After that, I thought I may make a super good checkout girl :)

    I'll never forget when Princess Di died. I was dazed and glued to the TV for several days. For some reason that one really got to me, maybe because I stayed home from work to watch her get married on live TV.

    Oh, online grocery shopping, always got expired items, and yucky produce :)

    And, I'm with Dawn!!!