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As I've firmly established on numerous occasions, I can think of quite a few things I'd rather do than shop. Quite a few. And some of them don't even involve major surgery or wrestling wild animals while blindfolded. Or major surgery while blindfolded.

The challenge is, while I don't actually have to wrestle wild animals and I've been able to avoid surgery, blindfolded or otherwise, I do have to shop, either solo or as part of a tandem.

Now, I think I've identified the part of shopping that bothers me the most. I mean, besides all of it. The problem is there are a lot of general, well-established guidelines -- unwritten rules, as it were - that many of my fellow shoppers seem to either not be aware of or elect not to follow.

And since I'm also a firm believer in the old baseball adage that the biggest problem with unwritten rules is they aren't written down, I figured it was time for either an introduction or a refresher. Hey, it's the season. Like you never go in a store any time except Christmas.

First, it's important to remember most rules of shopping are actually rules from somewhere else. For instance, carts go on the right of the aisle, just like cars go on the right of the road. This isn't the British Commonwealth. Except for Canada, which has the good sense to (A) be in North America, and (B) realize driving on the left is a really bad idea.

So if you see a bunch of smiling faces coming at you, it probably means you're the one walking opposite everyone in the aisle. And those smiles are about to change.

Also, if you won't let your barely walking child drive your car, you probably shouldn't let him or her push the cart. I know, you're helping them learn how. Well, it's on wheels and as soon as you touch it, it rolls. Not sure it's going to take a lot of training to master that. Seems like something the kid won't really be behind on if he picks it up a little later.

It's said marriage is two people texting each other "do you need anything from the store?" forever. It's also two people texting each other from opposite sides of the store asking, "where are you?" And then giving landmarks that don't make any sense because, no, she really has no idea where they keep deer corn.

However, a good rule to follow it that you should rely heavily on technology while shopping. My sister says she and my brother-in-law shop by text, rather than phone. And I've realized the photos on my cell phone consist of two shots of my kids and about 23 pictures of household cleaning products and disposable pans, all sent with the caption, "is this what you want?"

Still, use technology. They have apps that will tell you where everything is. Now if they can just develop one that tells me where my wife is. Or I can just stalk her as she passes, briefly at the other end of the aisle. Like I'm tailing her in some spy movie. Except I can't imagine James Bond with a 72-pack of toilet paper.

Perhaps it can be expanded to find my car in the parking lot. It's a grey SUV. Happy hunting.

And while I hesitate to suggest a dress code, even while engaging in such a formal experience as selecting toilet bowl cleaner, I do have to make an observation: For the past few weeks, it's been cold. Not "Yeah, it's a little cold right now, but it's going to get warmer." No. Cold. As in "all day, wind blowing, bone chilling cold. There is no equivocation about it. Which doesn't explain the shorts and flip flops on shoppers. I mean, did you all lose a bet at the same time?

Apparently we have a lot of folks in Northwest Arkansas who are either way too committed to heat at home or way too convinced big box stores share that commitment.

So there they are. A few rules of the road. Or aisle. Whatever your cliché. Now, eggs and bread on the top, get the milk and ice cream late and thump the cantaloupe. I have no idea why. Just seems like something you should do.

And if these don't work for you, there's always bear wrestling. Or emergency surgery.

Commentary on 12/07/2018

Print Headline: Rules of the aisle

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