Grocery Shopping: A treatise on tactical espionage

by Crom

Every time I have to go and get something from the grocery store I cringe. I know full well that I’m going to have to deal with a throng of price-crazed automatons buying up all the mushrooms and knocking over cans of tomato paste. There’s some kind of primeval instinct that people get around feeding places, where they revert to some form of earlier primate (see : Australopithecus). Besides being an interesting study in anthropology, the grocery store is a deadly zone of battle. A place where only those with the strongest wit and fastest reflexes will survive; so to make the grocery shopping experiences of the future easier I’ve compiled several techniques for coming out on top of the food race.

First things first, know the tools you’ll need. Don’t go to the store looking for a wedge of cheese and get a cart. We’ve all seen those poor fools who get 5 things, then cart themselves over to the express isle, only to be ridiculed and stoned to death for using such a gross amount of grocery capacity on such meager portions. Don’t one of these, they’re much akin to mice in the jungle; they’ll eat anything they can, and get caught by the spider waiting for them. Gauge the amount of food you’re going to be buying and take the proper receptacle. If you need a cart, that’s good, its size and maneuverability can come in handy. Don’t be too quick to dismiss the use of the basket; its light weight and simple construction have saved more then a few people. Also, know the layout of the store, if you’re coming in on the opposite side of the first things you’re going to need, then you’ll have to fight all the way over to that side of the store, know your entrances and exits.

Let’s go over the three main hot spots for problems in the store:

  1. The pharmacy
  2. The Butcher
  3. The Deli (deadliest of all)

I’m not going to kid you, these spots are hell. The pharmacy is ultimately filled with oldsters and health nuts, scouring the shelves for the vitamins and anti-oxidants they need to consume in order to survive (or so they think). They’ll claw out your eyes if you end up taking the last of the Tylenol, watch your back and your mates. The butcher is a mad house mostly because of the people who refuse to believe that the butcher has anything better to do then to tell them the location of things they could find if they just took more than 10 seconds to look. Plus those people who really don’t know anything about meat despite being 45 years old, and feel the urge to discuss this at length with the butcher. But the greatest of all these obstacles is the Deli. Oh the deli. It’s a dark place, where the weak will perish. The central flaw of the Deli is that only 4 of the 9 people, who are trying to get something from the Deli, know to use the tickets. Others simply try to jostle their way into the crowd and shout orders at the deli clerks. Watch out for the old people, they’re the craziest. They live and die by the ticket system, get one right away, it will make your case stronger. Don’t take any guff from these swine; let no one steal your spot, only eye contact and dominant posturing will get you the cold cuts you desire.

The aisles are like jungle fighting: it’s close quarters, hard to see, and no one but your mates will give you an inch. The most important thing to remember about the aisles is that everything is arranged in a specific order, so you should approach from a vector that gives you easiest access to the items in question. For instance take the following example:

Fig 1

Fig 1. Shows an example of what poor planning can yield. Some form of blockage has occurred in the aisle in question and you can’t get through. The black arrows represent the tactic for dealing with this, naturally you go around, however, it’s best to send another member of your platoon around the other side, and cover both possible routes incase another blockage is in effect. This move is comparable to Napoleon’s Pincher Attack. The most common form of blockage is known as the “Storm Trooper” block, when two people have their carts side by side. However this is easily counteracted, depending on whether you have a cart or basket. Fig 2. shows an example:

Fig 1

Here we see the two people side by side, of course this is not to scale, as it’s merely a representation, by going through the middle is not an option. Those who’ve attempted this escape have been known to be captured, and tortured. This tactic is kind of a mind game, the objective is to move A into B’s path, but to make it look like A did this on purpose, and therefore B will react accordingly. While B is getting uppity at A, you can make your run and get through. If you have a cart this is going to be a difficult move, I recommend Fig 2’s plan over this. It helps to throw a random item into A’s basket, to add to the confusion. They will naturally think that B did it out of spite. A perfect smoke screen to get through; most of these moves are known to you, but it’s these kind of touches that let you pull it off without incident.

The Store is a place of violence and heart break. But, if you keep these things in mind and pay attention, you can avoid serious injury or death. Keep your head, and remember all things flow according to the whims of the great magnet. Don’t be a fool to go against it.

  • Grocery Shopping: A treatise on tactical espionage
  • by Crom
  • Published on November 1st, 2002

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