Hawkeye insisted on walking home today which meant that passing by the shop without going in was guaranteed to provoke a tantrum. Thankfully, he has learned to accept that “ice cream” comes from the fridge at home, not the shop, and can once again be bribed to exit the shop eating just a banana and no other sticky, sugary, unhealthy snack. This is a habit he has had for at least a year now. Once upon a time this was a daily ritual that we had to do otherwise there was definitely a tantrum, regardless of whether Hawkeye was walking, sitting in the stroller, or on his trike.
So I wandered into the shop, having gotten him to agree to get a banana, and I was presented with this extreme study in colour. I mean, I’ve seen unripe bananas, but I’ve never seen bananas so unripe it looks like someone spray painted them lime green. I had a laugh to myself as I carefully picked off a nice, yellow banana for Hawkeye before going to the scales to weigh it. And this reminded me of the other ridiculous banana story I wrote earlier this year. My mother has been bugging me for ages to copy it to the blog from my Facebook where it was originally posted. I had promised that I would slowly post the original #100happydays posts to my blog retrospectively to have the whole series in one page but I have not had the time to do that yet. Mum begged me to at least get the banana story up here, because it’s funny. Well, she’s right about it being funny. I still laugh about it, and it’s something that actually happened to me. So when I pulled out my phone to snap this picture I decided that perhaps it’s time to fulfil my promise and repost the banana story.
(Incidentally, I have been weighing all my bananas since this happened, with no further fuss.)
From 19 January 2017 (Hawkeye is 2 years and 3 months, his regular transport is a push trike)
I need to rant about bananas. Specifically, the pricing structure of bananas in small grocery shops. Hang in there with me. There’s definitely some absurdity in here if you’re willing to wait.
You can stroll in Spar and grab a handful of bananas, put them on the scales, push the button that says “BANANA” and out comes a sticker with the price of your bananas by weight. The sticker has a bar code so that the correct price can ring up at the till without any hassle to the employee. All good so far.
Or you can grab one banana in a hurry and just pay 50 cents per banana. This has always driven me somewhat, well, pardon the pun, *bananas* but it’s targeted at people in a hurry to grab lunch or a snack who are just buying that one banana and are willing to pay more in order to not spend the extra few seconds having their bananas weighed. It’s essentially an “impulse isle” purchase just like the crisps and chocolate bars.
But you don’t HAVE to pay the 50 cent if you decide to go through the bother of weighing your single banana and printing that sticker. You can take your banana and only pay 20 or 30 cents for it instead of 50. Now I’ll be honest, I often haven’t bothered to do that in the past, but Hawkeye has a new habit lately which involves having a tantrum if mommy takes him home from creche past the shop and doesn’t stop to get him a banana. So I’ve been buying a lot more single bananas. To my consternation, I also discovered last week that the super fancy (expensive) gourmet deli on an adjacent street only charges 30 cents for a single banana, and suddenly I got a lot more miffed about paying the additional premium at Spar, but frankly the shop is easier to get around when you’re loaded with bags and trying to steer a toddler on a trike that takes corners about as well as a dump truck.
Today I decided to make the best of both worlds and weigh my single banana. I didn’t even have any other groceries. Just the damn banana. I told Hawkeyethat he has to be patient, because mommy has to pay for the banana first. I snapped off a small overripe one from a bunch, put it on the scales, pressed the BANANA button and the little printer inside whirred and spit out my price sticker (21 cents!) which I tried to pull out of the machine.
It didn’t want to come out willingly. After some tugging it finally got released from the printer clutches with some extra paper and a strip of tape, revealing it to be the very last sticker on the roll. I noted to myself that I should point that out to a cashier so they can refill it. Helpful like that, I am.
“Banana” says Hawkeye looking at me, so I carefully make a 3 point turn (ok, so it was more like a 4 or 5 point turn, sue me) in the aisle with his trike and go to the tills.
I’m sure many of you have noticed over the past year that small and medium sized supermarkets have begun pushing the self-checkout tills more aggressively in an effort to cut costs and increase customer turnover. These tills are ok as long as you don’t want to do something as terrible as buying cigarettes, alcohol, or (god forbid) mix different priced pastries in one bag. These things all require the intervention of a human being with a special staff swipe so you might as well just queue for the sole remaining old-fashioned till with a human person behind it.
I was there with just the one banana so I tried the self-check out but quickly realised that because I got the very end of the price sticker roll (lucky me) the barcode printed over the piece of tape and the ink didn’t take at all, so I had no functional barcode. One more squeaky 3 point turn later and I was queuing for the cashier.
The employee overseeing the self-checkout management waved me over to the available self-check out till but I shook my head at her and said I needed a cashier because the barcode on my banana didn’t work. And here’s where I heard my first absurd item of this whole misadventure:
“‘Oh… would you like me to exchange this for a bigger banana and you can just pay 50 cents?”
I’m sorry, what? Do I want to pay more than twice the sticker price for what may be a slightly larger banana when I can just wait for the guy ahead of me to finish and pay just 21 cents?
“Banana!” says Hawkeye.
I shake my head to the employee. Sorry, I’d rather wait, it’ll only be another minute. The employee shrugs and moves on. The guy ahead of me at the cashier is taking his sweet time but he soon grabs the handles of his grocery bag and vacates the counter, allowing me to wheel up my toddler dictator (“Banana, mommy!”) and put my single banana on the counter with its sad little malformed sticker.
The guy barely glances down and rings up the banana at 50 cents. I point to the price sticker and say “it just didn’t print correctly, so I couldn’t scan it at the self check out.”
“Ah, ok” the cashier says, clearly not understanding my point. “Fifty cents?” he ventures helpfully, as if hoping that if I surrender to the logic of the digital price display he can avoid having to actually figure out what I’m talking about.
I’m a mommy. I have patience. “No,” I repeat calmly. “It’s 21 cents, see? I just couldn’t ring it up myself because of the barcode.”
“Oh,” he stops to think for a moment and then smiles at me with expectant satisfaction of someone who is sure they have solved their problem. “Would you like me to get you a bigger banana so that you can pay 50 cents?”
What am I thinking? I’m a mommy, I ran out of patience this morning after the 250th “mommy! mommy!” before the clock even struck 8am, before I even had to coax the toddler into his coat ten minutes earlier in creche with alternating threats of no tv and bribes of pacifier and bananas. The exasperation bleeds into my voice. The guy behind me just wants to buy milk and check his lotto ticket but he looks sympathetic.
The little guy at my feet just goes “Banana!”
“I’m sorry,” I state flatly. “No. I don’t want a bigger banana. Can you just please ring this one up manually.”
“Uh… I’m not sure I can do that” the cashier says, his face slowly morphing from that hopeful satisfaction to a growing look of panic as he starts pressing buttons on the register. The transaction is voided easily but further frantic button mashing does not produce the magic 21 cents on the display. He stammers out yet another apology as a third employee comes up behind him to try and help but he decides at that point he has reached the limit of his expertise and asks me if I want to talk to the manager. The manager will know all. The manager can solve all.
“Yes” I say. “Please. I don’t see why I have to pay an extra 30 cents for a banana when I can just pay 21 cents.”
The guy behind me nods his head in agreement.
Hawkeye looks at the cashier from his trike. “Banana!” he affirms with great conviction and gravitas.
The manager nears the checkout aisle. It’s the same lady that offered me the bigger banana in the first instance at the self-checkout. I am mentally preparing myself to argue, to draw on my ancient, dusty experiences of supermarket cashier summer jobs in high school where there was always a manual code for produce or bakery goods or just “other” items that could be entered, with or without a supervisor code. I’m furiously thinking of how they cannot ask me to pay over the sticker price and I’m plotting out my supporting evidence of the consumer rights acts legislation and regulation and getting ready to point out that I know a whole building full of lawyers who would agree with me. The manager turns and sees that the problem is the lady with the banana again. Here we go. Ready. Set. G …
“Oh just give her the banana.”
“What?” asks the confused cashier. “I can’t… I don’t know how…” He’s floundering. Clearly out of his depth. I’m putting my wallet back in my bag.
“Just give her the banana for free. It’s ok.”
“Thank you” I say to the manager and the flummoxed cashier with a polite smile. (The guy behind me even looks satisfied, though that may be because he’s finally about to have his turn and maybe find out he won a fiver on the lotto.) “Here’s your banana Hawkeye!”.
Hawkeye, despite his occasional contribution of “Banana, mommy!” into the conversation, has been unusually patient during this whole exchange, allowing me to stand my ground. He has in fact, been more patient than I had been with the cashier. I execute another wide turn and roll him out of the shop, 21 cents richer.
From here on in, I am determined to weigh ALL my bananas.