It wasn’t really a big surprise when Target announced they’d have junk-food-free checkout lanes, but replacing the chips and candy with cigarettes? Didn’t see that coming.
Kidding. They’re more likely to display a bucket of loaded guns than hawk coffin nails. They’re getting ahead of public pressure, it seems; anti-chip factions are already targeting Bed, Bath and Beyond. The “beyond” part used to refer to their rocketry division, which was sold off in the ’90s; now it must mean “enormous quantities of consumable items with the nutritional value of Vaseline,” because that’s what greets you as you near the checkouts.
Now that you’ve got some sheets, how about some licorice?
That’s the business model, and they’ll stick to it until they’re shamed into putting the stuff in a back room you can’t enter without signing a waiver.
Annnnnd right about here is where you’d expect bleats of dismay over rampant nannyism, but I don’t care. It’s their business and if they wanted to stock the checkout aisles with Gently Used Dr. Scholl’s pads, that’s their choice. It’s not as if they don’t have enormous sacks of reviled potatoes elsewhere in the store. Granted, if they get rid of the gum, I’ll miss the opportunity to keep up on the innovations of the Chemical Flavor Industrial Complex, which comes up with things like Kiwi-Sriracha Sherbet, and sells you 10 sticks wrapped in premium foil shaved from the hulls of Gulfstream jets. If they get rid of the tiny tins of Altoids, I’ll miss the conversation that always follows: With you, or in the bag?
“That’s rather the same, isn’t it? I mean, the bag goes with me. Please be more specific.”
I’m just trying to help, but I always get a sour look. Anyway. Here’s one thing I’d be happy to see disappear from the checkout lanes: the Periodical Library for People Who Care About Kardashians in Single or Multiple Forms.
Three types of magazines: fitness magazines, which offer “438 Ways to a Firm Butt in under 9 seconds”; Cosmo-type mags with many tips on how to be a frantic, joyless sexbot; celebrity mags, which might strike you as dispatches from a parallel dimension where headlines like KYLIE DRAMA BABY JEN MALIBU HEARTACHE make sense. If we’d just discovered an island populated with nothing but good-looking people who only produce fragrance lines and unwatchable films, I can see checking in every so often for amusement, but the check-out line seems to presume I regard these people the way a feline regards catnip rolled in tuna juice.
I’m not saying these magazines should go, just that it would be great if they were accompanied by titles that didn’t make you feel as if you’d huffed lead fumes. I’m sure that market research proves customers prefer HOT CELEBRITY TUMMY WEEKLY to the Economist. But if they’re really interested in uplifting the customer, well, junk food comes in many forms. Just saying, he said, passive-aggressively.
In similar news: Target is now starting home delivery. For some this is the answer to their prayers, because they know exactly what they want: a glass jar of spaghetti sauce with Paul Newman’s face on it, one loaf of Mrs. Oxenwaddle’s Multi-Grain High-Fiber Bread made with Organic Drywall, two-gallon bladders of 2 percent milk without bovine growth hormone, one 16 oz. bottle of I Can’t Get Over My Hair shampoo (now with bovine growth hormone), a packet of Market Pantry Generic Cheese slices, one packet of Jack Daniel’s Mechanically Shredded Pork Flesh With Sauce, and a head of lettuce the size of a bowling ball. Click CONFIRM to confirm, click CANCEL to rethink your life and actually get up off your keister.
I understand the appeal, because I buy the same things every week. It would be handy to have someone show up every Wednesday with a box and say, “Here’s a reminder of your unvarying menu. Have a great day!” But there’s no joy. Yes, joy. I love grocery shopping, possibly because I find the experience of exploring the aisles and planning meals to be a grand diversion from the existential nothingness that can swamp you when you least expect it. The vast silence of the yawning grave fills our ears like the roar of an unseen sea, but on the other hand they invented a new pasta shape. It’s like bow ties, except they’re dickeys. And it’s on sale! Death, where is thy sting?
It’s a sociological expedition. It’s a chance to be with other people, and get huffy because they leave their carts in the middle of the aisle while they gaze dumbstruck at Raisin Bran options. It’s an opportunity to look at something they dearly want you to buy, like “Hot Water K-Cups,” and laugh.
So perhaps the home-delivery option could have some tweaks to make it more realistic. Then there’s Toddler Grab Function; when enabled, it just places a random item in your order.
A little chat box spouts mindless banter while you enter your items, like a conversation with a checkout person who sized you up from the start as someone who just can’t believe the Halloween candy is out already.
A light on the page goes on to indicate another order page has just become available and it’s faster but someone behind you already got to it, which somehow just fractures the social contract.
While your order is processing, there’s a selection of popular magazines about celebrities you can page through. Just for laughs! You don’t take it seriously. But you do wish Jen would find true love.
Why, the delivery man said the same thing just the other day.