Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Check This Out!

An open letter to the CEOs 
of all major grocery and retail stores 
including but not limited to Target, Kohl's, Cub Foods, 
Albertson's, WalMart and Trader Joes.

Let me begin by reminding you that the customer is always right, which of course, you already knew and is certainly the reason you rose to the top of the retail food chain and became the giant you are.  Please allow me to continue by congratulating you on your complete monopoly of the way a busy mother shops for everything from fly swatters to gym shoes to goldfish crackers.  Well done.  Thank you for selling it at all at one store.  Thank you for organizing all of your stores the same way so whether I'm shopping at my small town location or the fancy one in southern California I always know where to find the things I need, quickly, as I drag along three tired children.

And while I'm on the subject of dragging children, bless you for finally getting the hint that many of us have more than one child that is incapable of walking through a store and providing a supply of shopping carts that hold two bodies in the front and come complete with harnesses so these two children can be strapped way too close to each other and will not fall out of the cart while I am failing to give them my full attention as I wander down the aisles continually drawn towards the clearance items on the end caps like a raccoon mesmerized by a shiny nickel.  But I digress....

Certainly, my inability to focus during retail experiences has rubbed off on my children.  I will own up to being chronically incapable of sticking to my list, regularly guilty of buying duplicates of things I already own and spending $100 on food only to arrive home and discover that we have nothing to eat for dinner, but my suffering as a result of my lack of focus and the pains inflicted by occasionally overspending or under-buying are nothing compared to the level of suffering I am subjected to the moment I start my journey through the check out line.  With children.  Multiple children.  Three, usually.  That fully experience every single thing in those rows and rows and endless rows of tiny cardboard boxes with 3 pairs of eyes, 6 hands, a total of 30 grubby little fingers, an ability to touch more things in a 5 second span of time than a plastic tub full of hungry octopi and possessing the begging and pleading skills that could talk a dog down off a meat truck.

Which brings me to the point of my correspondence today.  I have a proposition for you.  You retail giants that have an opportunity, almost daily, to sell me everything single thing I need to function in my tiny little corner of this world.

Take a hint from the brilliant folks who began designating conveniently located parking spaces for "Expectant Mothers" and designate a check out line for "Mothers with Young Children".  Place nothing for sale in those lines.  Nothing shiny.  Nothing to drink.  No battery operated lolly pops or magazines with Justin Bieber in skinny jeans.  No princess key chains for children too young to drive or Sponge Bob flashlights for children who sleep with the lights on.  No candy bars masquerading as granola goodness with their nature names and pictures of apples on the front or bags of honey roasted anything.  Nothing for sale.

Make it a narrow aisle.  Just wide enough for my cart to squeeze through first, followed closely by me and my brood.  The frazzled mother behind me in line can then drive in behind us effectively cutting off any escape for my hooligans, trapping them nearby while I commence the check out process.

Staff it with teenagers who are oblivious to everything but the beepbeepbeep of the barcode scanner or kindly grandmother types who will not judge me for my inability to make my offspring behave or condemn me for being stupid enough to attempt a shopping trip with three urchins in the first place.

Do this for me and my fellow suffering mothers and in exchange for the potential lost revenue you might experience as a result of a check out line completely devoid of annoying sundries I would be willing to pay you admission to this check out line.  Yes.  You are understanding me correctly.  I will pay an extra fee every single time I go through this line.  Give me priority check out.  Eliminate the distractions.  Contain my progeny.  Give this tired mother some peace during her final transaction as she prepares to exit your establishment and you may collect a fee.  Every time.

Please consider my simple suggestion for enhancing the retail experience of shoppers in your store.  If there's a mother out there who wouldn't be willing to pay for this kind of ease during the check out process, I haven't met her.  And if I did, I'm sure I wouldn't like her.


Mother of 6 year old Marge, 4 year old Mona and 2 year old Minnie.


  1. This is so perfect I can't even stand it!! Eleanor gets distracted every time by the itty bitty Cinderella & Snow White figurines. Had me laughing out loud and sharing some paragraphs with Michael. Thanks for that at the end of my long day! :)