Wednesday, May 18, 2016

1643 Gaming the Market

The stock market? Easy. Buy low, sell high.  Also it’s impossible to time it. Im-poss-i-ble.  If Buffett can’t do it, then the schmeckle you deal with at can’t do it either. Even if you visit him in Bosnia.

It’s the supermarket we’re talking about.  The object of the game is getting in and out as fast as possible.

Rule One:  Have a list.
Rule Two: Bring it with you.
Rule Three: Question potential purchases you’re about to make if they’re not on the list.
Rule Four: Check out.

Four and up are the hard parts.  Even in the best of circumstances, you’re likely to run into some kind of a jamup on the line.

--Someone will need change of $100 for a 69 cent purchase and the cashier won’t have it.
--The register tape will run out.
--Your new chip encoded card won’t work and the card reader will refuse to allow you to swipe.
These things are unavoidable. But judicious line selection can help make the trip down the aisle less slow.

Rule 5: The shortest line is not necessarily the fastest.

Rule 6: Seek a pro.  Look for a cashier who appears to have been born to the breed.  Look for someone with some gray in his or her hair, not the cute young boy or girl you like to fantasize about.

Rule 7: Time wasting lines to avoid:

--Those with morbidly obese people ahead of you unless they’re highly and happily verbal and animated. (Yes, it’s profiling, but so what!)

--Those with a whole Sunday paper’s worth of coupons.  Half of them will not scan properly or the customer won’t have the right merchandise or the right quantity or the right size.

--Those with a pile of those germ-factory reusable bags.  They take much longer to pack than paper or plastic.

--Mothers with newborns and/or men or women who speak baby talk to any kid, especially those over two feet tall. (More profiling.)

--Mothers or fathers with gaggles of hyperactive kids, especially screaming and cranky hyperactive kids.

--Gaggles of young people jabbering in any language, but especially a language that is not common in your neighborhood.

--Elderly men who look like the kind that started grocery shopping when “high tech checkout” meant writing the prices down on the bag and adding them by hand.

Rule 8:  If you go to a line that says “maximum 20 items” and you have 25 or thirty ignore the sign. Most cashiers don’t care.  If you hit the rare one who does, break the purchases in two.

You also want to be the person others want to be behind.  Therefore:

Rule 9: Have your money or your pay card at the ready if it’s safe to do so.

Rule 10: Have your “shopper’s card” out.  This is especially important if you’re at a store whose card you don’t often use. You’re going to have trouble finding it buried there in your wallet or purse -- or even worse, the glove box of your car.

Rule 11: When there’s room on the conveyor belt, locate and position the little bar that signals the end of your order so the 450 pound guy behind you can start putting his groceries, his pile of reusable bags and his phonebook size stack of coupons down.

Rule 12:  If that double wide sloth behind you gets too close while you’re entering your pin number, say one of two things:

  1. Back off, fatso.
  2. Am I in your way?

He’ll get the message.

Method B is recommended.

Finally, a semi- rule.  If your market claims it’s open 24 hours, it really isn’t.  You can buy a lot of stuff at 3 in the morning.  But don’t expect deli, butcher, fish, or bakery counters to be staffed.  Don’t expect more than one open register.  Don’t expect empty fruit and vegetable displays to be refilled.  Customer service, check cashing and signing up for a shopper’s card will all be unavailable. Carts left in the parking lot will stay there overnight, so grab one on the way in.

But the security cameras will still be alert as ever, even if the screen watcher has nodded off.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to

© WJR 2016

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