The grocery store.
It's a simple concept, isn't it? Here are the things you need, all laid out and arranged order. It's brightly lit, easy to navigate and made for your convenience. All the things you need in one easy to grab place. It should be simple, stress-free and a wonderful nod to the power of modern life.
Until it isn't.
The problem is not the grocery store in and of itself. That's still doing its thing, giving you instant access to an array of products. The issue comes from the people who use the grocery store; the people who aren't you. The strange, unfathomable people who make what should be a basic chore more like running a gauntlet of idiocy.
Step into any modern grocery store, and you'll find them. The Others. They have no excuse; they come in all shapes, sizes and age brackets. For a brief moment of intense irritation, you feel like they're targeting you personally. They're here to ruin lives, just in very different ways...
The One Who Is Surprised By The Cost
You've been queuing for what feels like hours, your kids are bored and you're sick of the sight of the entire store - but the end is nigh. You're next in the checkout line, your goods already stacked on the conveyor belt. All you need is for the guy in front to pay.
What Happens Next? "How much?" he queries, peering at the till display like he's never seen it before. "I didn't know it'd be that much! I'll have to see if I have the money..."
What You Do: Smile politely if he offers an apology (some won't) and nod to the checkout operator in silent solidarity.
What You Think: "Are you kidding me, dude? How have you let your finances get like this? I researched my shop online; I know what the offers are. I bought half of what I needed with coupons from DontPayFull.com and who knows who else! I know the exact amount I am going to pay in sales tax. Why can you not do this?!"
The One Who Can't Park A Car
It's a busy, bustling day at the grocery store and you're circling the car park like a lioness in search of prey. Finally, you see a space, opening up to you like a rainbow across the dark sky. You go for it and...
What Happens Next: You realize someone who clearly shouldn't be allowed a vehicle has parked so close to the line (or even over it) that they are effectively taking up two spaces.
What You Do: Drive on, either internally (if you have the kids with you) or externally swearing wrath and vengeance on such a person.
What You Think: "I am going to take a photo of that and put it online. Or at least rant on Facebook. How can people be so inconsiderate?"
The One Who Asks For Advice
You don't work at the grocery store, yet occasionally, you'll come across someone who seems to think you have an encyclopedic knowledge of the layout. Rather than seeking help from someone who actually knows what they're talking about...
What Happens Next: ...they ask you where to find a product - because you just happened to be nearby.
What You Do: You try to think if you know where the item is if you're in a good mood. If you're in a bad mood, you smile politely and shake your head.
What You Think: "This store has signs. Look up! They're right there. And if that doesn't answer your question, maybe don't ask the Mom with two toddlers hanging onto her cart?"
The One Who Walks Slowly
You're a busy person. You've got places to see and things infinitely more interesting than grocery shopping to do. You want to get in and out as quickly as possible.
What Happens Next: You round a corner, enter an aisle and someone follows behind, trapping you in. In front of you, blocking the exit is a Shopper Who Dawdles. They are not looking at products, so there's no reason for them to be moving so slow. They're ambling, idling the day away and you can't get away from them.
What Happens Next: Most of the time, you're going to be stuck with them. It takes a lot of bravery to ask them to move aside or pick up speed. If you do do it, then you do it in your politest voice, concealing the maelstrom of annoyance you're feeling.
What You Think: "Move. Just move out of the way. Do it now or I might give in to the little voice in my head that is telling me to ram you with my cart..."
Fellow human beings - a blessing so often, but in grocery stores, a bit of a curse!