Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Revamping the Grocery Shopping Experience

Everyone on earth has pet peeves, yet for some strange reason, my pet peeves seem to dominate my psyche minutes after an off-putting incident. This occurred recently at a Sunday grocery shopping experience. But since I am a "don't complain unless you have a better idea" advocate, I felt it best to put my money where my mouth is and provide suggestions to enhance the grocery shopping experience, weed out undesirable behavior, and streamline processes so that we obtain maximum efficiency at all times. Here goes.

Deli Line Efficiency and Waste Management

We all hate being in the deli line, but have we really ever asked WHY we are there so long? It's simple - you're all wasteful hogs who buy too many different meats and cheeses, throw out 25% of it each Sunday morning, and then go and repeat your filth when you do your weekly shopping. You're paying forward wastefulness and sloth. You then pull a ticket number, repeat your order seven times to the deli clerk, and then watch them move slowly as they cut your meat. We don't want anybody rushing, since they work with really sharp equipment and could severely injure themselves, but more importantly, get AIDS all over my salsalito turkey. So here's what we do to keep you honest, limit waste, and ensure the line moves quickly - we install usage labels with sensors that track how much of the deli meats you eat, and how much you throw away. It calculates (somehow, someway) a 3 week average of how much you consume, and maxes out how much you can request. So if you order a pound of roast beef, but throw out 50% of it each week for xxx amount of weeks, this locks in a 'waste ratio' and you can no longer order anything over a half pound (or anything above the waste %). Because you like to waste shit. You also probably get ham, turkey, two types of cheeses and then either bologna or salami, the white trash meats. And then you throw out a lot to make room for next week's items. Uh uh. Not no mo'. There's a new sheriff in town. Here's why. 

My proposal would limit interaction with the deli clerks and strictly result in you using an automated terminal. With a twist. You scan your shopper card (mandated), it pulls your 'moving averages', and then it asks you to 'apply your punishment mechanism.' The punishment mechanism (PM) is a mini-jumper cable that gets attached to your breasts or crotchal region. If you submit a dishonest deli request, and have a track record of being a waster but you are trying to trick the system, it will give a limited electrical jolt to your body. The jolt should be enough to get you back on track so that you don't make absurd deli requests again. The computer remembers your joltage, so if you pull a stunt like this the next week, the voltage will double, and so on and so forth until you are a smoking sizzling corpse. This will aim to: 1) limit deli meat waste 2) encourage folks to ask for less during each trip to the deli 3) speed up the process so that the line moves faster, and 4) Scare the shit out of you every time you go to the deli. Downside - none. 

Targeted EMP Strikes In Aisles

I hate zombie texting and oblivious shoppers, slowly meandering in and out of aisles, blocking traffic, gabbing about nothing of substance, texting things like "OMG, I'm like shopping with my pahhhrents....this is like so ratchet." My new proposal would be to have special tile lanes in the center of each aisle where an EMP kills any cell phone service, which in essence frees up the busy aisles for people to get through. You want to text? Totally fine, just do it in a designated 'texting area' or hug the sidelines of each aisle, where service is restored. But sure as hell don't be diddling your phone in front of the meats, milks, yogurts, cheeses and breads. It's high throughput areas, so moving at a fast pace is critical. This also keeps the shoppers moving at a brisk pace, with a slight sense of urgency because they can't otherwise their phone in a relaxed setting until they are done with what they need to do. Not much to dissect here. Downside - none.

Check-out Line: Forgetful Florences

We've all had situations where you are checking out and the dumb birdbrain in front of you forgets butter or olive oil or Uncle Ben's rice. They leave the line, slow things down whatever conveyor belt momentum you have, and you are left in a holding pattern while they awkwardly book it down the aisle to grab the forgotten item (which invariably becomes two or three since they have a stay of execution). No more. I want a healthy fear of failure when you go grocery shopping, and I want failure to be met with punishment. So here's what happens - a claw from one of those kiddie games at arcades comes down from the ceiling of Johnny's Food Mart. It takes all of your items and places them in the back room to be inventoried and subsequently restocked. You've basically lost every grocery item because you were forgetful and foolish. Make a list, stick to it, and don't forget shit. It's really simple. And if you forget something, don't tell those in line that you forgot it, simply finish your order, check out, and re-enter the store to obtain aforementioned forgotten item. It's like when someone needs to be in a certain lane on the highway but they didn't plan properly and now need to jump two lanes to the left with no space and inconvenience countless others in the process. You go up the road, take the next exit or street, and retrace your steps the right way - you don't screw over others, you selfish whore. You lose, start over. But guess what I guarantee won't happen again? You will never leave line to get a forgotten item again. Downside - none.

Check-out Line: Ill-prepared Isabelles

Not sure if this is common knowledge for some, but here goes - when I food shop, I intend to pay with either soft fiat currency or debit card. There is a 100% change that I will have to pay for my groceries at a given time whilst in the grocery store. To that end, the second my last grocery is on the conveyor belt, I remove my wallet and get in ready position to pay. The numbers are in - 8 out of every 10 unprepared shoppers are women. The pocketbook comes into play AFTER the final system tabulation. The purse gets unclicked, the credit card is fumbled, or change is foolishly counted even though you are about to give an amount back to the cashier that results in them just staring at you cause it doesn't even make sense. The new automated prompt will come from a sensor on the grocery cart that identifies when the last item has been removed. User will be reminded, "Please ensure your method of payment is ready for processing. You have 10 seconds." Once those ten seconds are up, the cashier presses a button and you're either safe to proceed or.....Alternative B - instant removal. You see, as you are unloading, you are stepping on collapsable tiles that are connected to a grid on the cashier's register. If you are bobbling your money and coins and not ready to pay after your 10 seconds, then the cashier presses a button and you fall through the floor into a dank, dungeony environment and have to fight either an angry centaur or some Gamorrean guard creature from Star Wars. If you survive, you get to come back upstairs and reshop (cause that claw has since come down and taken all of your items for restocking purposes). If you die, then I don't have to worry about you not being ready to pay for your groceries in a timely fashion. Downside - none

Fire All Baggers

I have nothing against baggers, but they are going the route of the elevator button presser. Let's free up space, keep things moving, and utilize technology. The bagging area becomes a circle 'tub' with a hole in the middle where you press a button and a bag it flayed open like a dissectible frog. Items circle the 'tub drain' and land in the back, and when a certain threshold is reached, the bag closes/ties itself and is moved via robot arm into your cart. Your cart goes in a 'loading zone', you sit on a bench and watch this all unfold. Next bag is automatically queued up to load. Sensitive items like eggs, deli meats, cheeses etc get put to the side (I mix them together with dish soap and fruit because.....gasp.....nothing actually happens if you mix them). Delicate items then get hand packed into the bag and put in manually by the cashier. This solves two problems: 1) Gets rid of baggers and their minimum wage demands for simple work and 2) speeds up the throughput and gets you out of line and out of the store faster. Downside - none

Boxing Gloves At The Express Lane

Why would there be boxing gloves at the Express Lane, you ask? Real simple. In case someone disobeys one of life's five golden rules (ie - don't get more items than the Express Lane allows), boxing gloves rest on top of the scanning terminal. If someone of any age, gender, race, creed, or religion decides to purchase more items than the Express Lane, an alarm goes off, metals bear-traps wrap around the perp's feet and holds the in place while the boxing gloves get deployed and hit the them about the face and upper torso. Cashier also has a yard stick with a plastic index finger and middle finger on it that they shove into your eyeballs, 3 Stooges-style. A bucket of semen gets dumped on your head from above and then sawdust gets shot out of a hidden compartment underneath the Nestle's Crunch bars. You are then thrown out of the store and have to do the walk of shame to your car. You will never make that mistake again, you hear me? Downside - none.

Now, these are some very simple ways to improve the shopping experience. I guarantee earth is a better place (less waste), people are more considerate (lest they be shamed), and you are in and out about ten minutes faster due to the technological advancements. Feel free to float your own ideas. 

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