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Thirty Ways to Scare Grocery Store Employees

Yes, I realize that there are only ten items in this list, not thirty as is proclaimed (above). We're not trying to rip you off - it's just that we've only come up with ten so far. Sorry.

1. Special order a custom-made cake, which you describe in great detail to the employee at the bakery counter. Say something like, 'It needs to be a plastic imitation barbie doll with a mermaid's tail made of green #32 frosting atop a gray cliff made of sponge cake with a small plastic lighthouse in the background…' (You suggest that they can find a small plastic lighthouse at a fish tank supply store.) Ramble on for at least fifteen minutes about how it is needed in two weeks for the next meeting of your Sea Horse Fan Club (when the dude behind the counter points out that there are no sea horses on the cake, just give him an evil stare). After he gives you a price estimate and asks you where it should be delivered to simply say, 'Never mind,' and walk away.

2. Unwaveringly stare at one object (possibly an orange) in an area where you will be in the range of an employee's vision. Do not take your eyes off of it. About every fifteen minutes fall over, then get up and resume staring at the object.

3. Go shopping with a garden gnome (which you either strap in your cart or wheel around in a stroller). Every few minutes let him "play" amongst the "vegetation" (a.k.a. the vegetable isle). Have him wander around gleefully in the cabbage; maybe even build a little mountain out of radishes and mushrooms. Explain to passersby and employees that 'this is like his homeland.'

4. Attach yourself to the front door of a grocery store about an hour before opening. You will be similar in appearance to a barnacled sea cucumber attached to the mossy surface of an undersea rock. You could try puffing out your cheeks while adhering your face to the glass (like annoying little kids do on long car rides). Make eye contact with the employees getting ready to open inside. Drool a little and act jittery - like you can't wait for the store to open.
As soon as a worker opens the door, shout, 'Oh, boy, oh boy!' while sprinting at top speed to the baking isle, and making as much commotion as possible. Emerge triumphantly with a bag of flour, and explain to the checkout person with extreme enthusiasm how you can't believe that you got a bag of flour (they're so hard to find) and how lucky you are. You could also cry tears of joy…

5. Interview a potato. Come into the store dressed in a professional suit, horn-rimmed glasses and a briefcase. Stride confidently to the vegetable aisle and single out a lone potato. Say, 'I know that you're really busy, but do you have time to answer a few questions?' After a few seconds of silence say 'thank you' as if the potato had agreed. Whip out your hand-held tape recorder and start off with simple questions like 'What's your name?' and 'What farm did you grow up on?' Then finish up with more complex questions such as, 'Potatoes are known for their hardiness and versatility in baking. As a classic russet variety potato, what are your feelings on the new, more delicate gourmet varieties of potato being developed today?' Pretend you are listening to the potato's comments by responding with, 'Is that right?' and 'Are you mad at me?' You can also ask non-potato questions, such as "his" feelings on gas prices. Occasionally jot things down in a notepad, in addition to tape-recording everything. At the end of the interview, ask the potato if he wants to go out for lunch. Buy the potato, and later return it.

6. Go into a grocery store and duct- and electrical- tape yourself supine to the floor of some high-traffic aisle. You could maybe even make a ring around yourself with small squishy objects, like grapes or Brach's candy samples. Say that you are protesting the daily battering of linoleum by thousands of pairs of feet in this very grocery store; then start chanting pro-linoleum slogans in very loud overdriven screaming.

7. Put on all of your winter clothes, including, but not limited to: coat, scarf, large padded gloves, hat w/ ear flaps, fuzzy earmuffs, snowpants, boots, puffy winter vest. Anything with (fake!) fur on it is especially nice. If you live in a warm region of the world, this will all be even more impressive, but you may have to borrow cold-weather gear from a friend in a wintery-er clime. Obtain several small to medium-sized stuffed penguins (at least three), like Linux penguins. If you are of the arty & crafty persuasion, you might want to fashion miniature scarves and gloves for them out of felt. Go the freezer section of your local grocery store (the ice cream/frozen treat freezer case is preferable). Arrange the stuffed penguins in a queue leading to the door of the freezer case. Stand behind the last penguin in line. Tap your foot and look at your watch impatiently.

8. [Contributed by Dave Fedak Stanley.] Enter the grocery store, looking like an English professor, wearing a tweed jacket, leather patches at the elbows, a pair of jeans, with four-day unwashed hair, but wearing the cleanest white shirt (for women, this get-up is funnier) and carrying a dictionary. Ask a cashier at the busiest counter for directions to the latest releases of dairy and specify, "Show me the aisle with only the latest releases," in your best imperial sounding tone. Proceed to the aisle, choose a sour cream container, stand on your dictionary, and begin reciting the ingredients of sour cream. Interview the customers on their knowledge on dairy.""You there, miss, what vitamin is milk enriched with?" "Why is dairy a bacterial culture?" and "If bacteria has culture, do they have any funny dances? Anyone?" Return to the cashier from earlier. Tell her you found a spelling mistake in your ingredients for yogurt. Make an impression on her with a stern look. Insist that you wrote the ingredients list and that the yogurt company guaranteed perfect wording for your ingredients column. Say, "I can't understand how this happened, I wrote three simple lines and they still got it wrong!" By then the manager will show up. Explain the situation and that only his reading the yogurt ingredients out loud will calm you. The line up at the counter gets longer. When the manager pronounces Vitamin D, correct him. Get annoyed, say, "It is pronounced 'Vit-A-min' not 'Vyte-A-Min.'" Explain that your editor gauranteed that everyone reading your work says "ViT-A-min" and then go on a rant about the educational system. Demand all customers substsitute "Vyte-A-Min" with "Vit-A-min." Then ask the manager why no one has shown up to your dairy signing. Explain that you were sent here to sign dairy products of your work. Say, "My agent told me there would be long lines. Why do you think I put on this white shirt? For grocery shopping?!" Then with the three or four dairy ingredients in your hands, ask that you pay for them now. At this point the manager will comply. As the cashier registers the prices, stop her at each one and say, "That much for cheese? I won't buy it, pass." "That much for yogurt? Pass." Then leave, exasperated.

9. [Another one from Dave. Thank you, Dave.] Enter the grocery store with a pair of tap shoes for flamenco or Irish dance. Wear tight pants that resemble a matador's. Attach a walkman or a radio that plays the score from Riverdance or Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance so that every shopper can hear the haunting Irish music. Dance through the aisles because this is your big chance to get noticed by producers of plays and musicals. Make sure your arms lay stiffly at the sides as you hop, skip, spin, jump, and tap from the dairy section, to the fresh produce, to the meats, back to the dairy. Irish dance demonstrates power and beauty, nostalgia for simpler times and honest emotions, and the stiffest set of coordination skills put into tap shoes. Ask one the clerks about soy products through tap dance only. Click those heels and toes. Make sure your tap conveys your question on where the soy products are because you are lactose intolerant. Wear a big "cheese head" hat on your head that people wear at footabll games, only change it to "soy-cheese head" or "soybean head". Your feet stomp to an abrupt halt at the end of each demand to the clerk. If the clerk misunderstands, tap faster, more furiously. Let your dance express the frustration of lactose intelorance and the unsympathetic corporate world to your cause. Express the revolution of the alternative soy milk. Keep pestering the clerks with accusations from your angry dancing feet. The dance has moved beyond the inquisitive. Now you remonstrate the grocer as you spin to the crescendo of the music. You must unleash at least one leap over the fresh produce counters as you liberate yourself. If you crash into the potatoes like a wet slice of ham, don't worry. The style is what counts.

10. Swipe two grocery carts and set them in a convenient aisle. Fill one cart with health food: e.g. fruit, carob rice milk, dark leafy vegetables, organic tea, tofurkey, etc. Then fill the other cart with junk food: e.g. sundrop, cheese curds, refined sugar, beef stix, chocolate chip cheesecake, etc. Place the carts head to head as if readying for a collision. Have the carts 'battle' over 'swing foods' that could fit into either the healthy or junk category, like pretzels, honey, graham crackers w/ or w/o cream cheese, and ovaltine. These ambiguities must be cleared up! Make eloquent speeches for each side from the front of each cart, banging the side of your hand dramatically on the handle of the cart like a podium. When you are done bestow a 'laurel wreath' made of either fresh cilantro or starlite mints (depending upon the winner) on the winning cart. Then leave.

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