You can learn a lot from a supermarket. For example, if you want to know what a community is really like, visit the local supermarket. To me, it is a microcosm of the community, complete with local cuisine, customs, speech patterns, fashion, and social stature. It also tells us a lot about our driving skills. That's right, driving. The similarities between how people push their shopping carts in the store and how they motor around town is truly remarkable. Think about it, here's what you typically find as you meander the store aisles:
Speeders - these are the people who know exactly what they want, and go in and out of the store as fast as possible. They have little time for chitchat and God forbid you get in their way, WHAM! Actually, I like to follow the speeders through the store as they tend to clear the aisles for me (kind of like following an ambulance or fire truck). Most people are put off by speeders though, particularly when they accidentally ram into other shopping carts.
Slow Pokes - obviously this group represents the antithesis of the speeders. These are the people who either go grocery shopping like it is a carefree social outing or the geriatric types who can barely see above the carts. Then of course there are the people talking on cell phones or the handicap wheel chairs the size of a Sherman Tank. All of these people move at a snail's pace and are totally oblivious to everyone else around them thereby causing traffic jams.
Road Hogs - these are the people who push their carts down the middle of the aisles making it difficult to pass from either direction, left or right. These are the same people who like to double-park their carts in the most congested parts of the store and look offended if you ask them to move (which, of course, they do reluctantly).
Navigation through the supermarket is probably the biggest reason why people loathe going to them. Perhaps if they were designed more like highways it would be simpler, such as turning lanes, traffic signs, and lines painted down the middle of the aisle floors (actually, I think this would be a great idea as people are conditioned to follow painted lines on the road and would probably observe one side or the other).
Thank God nobody ever thought of adding a horn to a grocery cart as I suspect the sound would be deafening. Maybe what we need is a motorcycle cop driving a two wheel Segway up and down the aisles writing tickets or traffic cops strategically located around the store.
Actually, I think they should give driving tests in supermarkets as a precursor to getting your actual driver's license. Imagine kiosks in supermarkets like Kroger, Publix, and Safeway where you have to complete a written test and then be evaluated by Troopers with drill-sergeant hats and reflective glasses with clipboards judging shoppers on their driving skills. This should significantly cut down on the number of idiots on the road wouldn't it?
Yes, supermarkets tell a lot about ourselves, maybe too much.
Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.