By ANITA HANABURGH
I'm looking straight at the canned tomatoes. I need whole, petite diced and stewed. Should I get the Tuttorusso brand, as it's on sale, or the Hunts - I like their crushed - or maybe I'll get the Contadina.
"I'm getting the Contadina," a firm voice responds to my thoughts.
"Okay," I answer quickly.
Looking to the man next to me, I load my cart with four 28-ounce cans of Contadina Whole Peeled Plum Tomatoes and smile, "Thanks." He laughs right out loud, and shows me the cellphone he is holding in his non-visible hand. He continues conversing as he pushes his cart down to the ice cream.
Cellphones in the grocery store. Oh, the world has changed. In the past week, while waiting in the grocery checkout line, I have listened to arguments with a son who hadn't mowed the lawn, directions to the nursery where the (probable) husband was picking up tomato plants, and a grandma sweet talking "Susie" to stop her crying. Another customer told me my phone was ringing when it was hers. I continuously looked around, thinking some phone talker was talking to me.
I'm not complaining, but many are. It seems that if I stop in the grocery store, the person next to me is either talking on his or her phone or complaining, unsolicited, about people talking on their phones. So what's the beef?
I admit I am a cellphone user, or is it abuser? I check with my mate every time I walk into the store. What do we need? What do you want for dinner? I have waved away or ignored friends in the flesh to continue conversations with friends on the phone. I even ran into the produce boy when my step daughter announced her move back to Brazil.
I've heard some busy grocery stores, such as Holiday Markets in Michigan, are banning the use of cell phones. A problem is when the deli counter calls out a number, some shoppers are so focused on their phones they don't respond, therefore slowing down the whole system. Imagine being behind someone who is holding up their finger to signal the slicer that they want to finish their call before ordering. Have you ever watched someone in the checkout line get their money out of their wallet while they maneuver a phone and conversation?
Maybe we should do with cellphones like we do with smoking - do it outside. Even better, like the Thruway, the store could have a separate spot for calling. Someone told me there are electronic jammers for use in theaters that send signals that stop the phones from working.
But are cellphones in stores really a problem? Unlike restaurants, cell phone use in grocery stores doesn't' interrupt "quiet" time. The talker is on the move.
Can we just live with it?
Let's face it: The use of cellphones is here to stay. It is estimated in five years almost 85 percent of Americans will own a smart phone. And certainly, some of that "smart" is valuable in the grocery store. You can check prices with a simple scan, check the ratings of any or all food items, find a recipe to go with sale items, take notes or take pictures to remember some food you might like to try, or just call a friend to say you will be late. You can use your smart phone to check dates with the friends you meet at the store, or call to check on the kids - or more importantly, call to make sure the kids will be home to help you unpack groceries. I keep my continuous grocery list right on my smart phone.
Oh busboy, perhaps we just need to be more aware and more thoughtful of this dramatic change in lifestyle. Simple signs might help remind us: "Please don't use cellphones in the checkout line," or, "Please don't use mobile devices when ordering at the deli, fish counter, etc."
Just reading this column might be a reminder to be more cell considerate when pushing your cart or you could just watch this video: blog.petflow.com/a-video-everyone-needs-to-see/.
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