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May 24, 2004


As some of you may recall, last week my column (inspired by a discussion on this blog) was about etiquette rules. One of those rules concerned when it is OK to leave your shopping cart in the checkout line to go get an item you forgot. Basically I said this was acceptable only if (1) It was only one item; (2) You knew exactly where it was; and (3) You apologized to the people behind you.

So anyway, yesterday I was at my local Publix supermarket, and I got to the checkout line, and when the clerk rang up my package of Oscar Meyer hot dogs, she told me I was entitled to another package, free. Since there was a woman behind me in the line, and since people often recognize me at this supermarket, and since I didn't really need a second package, and above all since I had just written a column about not inconveniencing people behind you in lines, I said thanks, but I was fine with just the one package. But the clerk was insistent: She pointed out that I would be back before she was done ringing up my order. I still declined, but then the woman behind me also basically demanded that I go get my free hot dogs, insisting that she didn't mind.

So I sprinted to the hot-dog section, at the far end of the store, and I sprinted back, and when I got there, (1) the cashier had finished ringing me up, and (2) there were suddenly, out of nowhere, like eight new people waiting in the line, none of whom had witnessed the earlier scene in which I was basically coerced into going back for the hot dogs. I had to kind of edge past them all in an extremely self-conscious manner.

I am writing this only in case you were one of those eight people: Sorry.


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I was one of the eight - no problem though, Dave. After all, I was 3 items over the limit.

Dave, you should put this in an upcoming column too. Just because it's so darn amusing in an ironic way. It might get you hate mail though. Just a warning.

I can think of one more addition to the rule: leaving behind someone to stand with your cart does not count if the said person does not actually have any money.

Yesterday, I was in Wal-Mart and a lady left her 12 year old girl there to go get some smokes. As the cashier got closer and closer to the girl, she started panicking and yelling, "MOM MOM I DON'T HAVE ANY MONEY!!!"

Dave-you are the man!

Was Haley Berry one of them?

Not as in you're the man who was in front me because Texas isn't local to you and I wouldn't think you'd travel all this way to get groceries, however, you still rock.

Dave - all is forgiven. The woman behind you should have filled everyone in that came to the line - saying "I ordered him to go get his free hotdogs." That would have cleared you entirely and put the blame on her (where it belonged!)
Trouble is, then you look like a weenie for having succumbed to a total stranger's orders....

Dave: As a celebrity, you should know better. This clearly WAS A TRAP!!!

The unexpected hot dog deal ... the overly helpful cashier ... the insistent customer behind you in line ... the eight other people who appeared out of "nowhere" ... it's all a little too pat, isn't it?

YOU WERE SET UP! The Powers That Be clearly did not care for your column. I'm holding my breath waiting for the surveillance video to be on the news.

This could very well ruin you.

This is a job for PLUMP, JUICY, TENDER!

More etiquette questions from yesterday in the supermarket:

1: Are the rules different for quickly rushing out of line different if you are in the express lane? What if the "express" lane isn't actually living up to its name and there is little risk of it becoming your turn before you get back?

2: If you are in the express lane with an item limit, can multiple foods of the same type be considered a single item? Perhaps only fruits or vegetables which can be weighed together?

3: Is it just wrong to wear a hawaiian type shirt with the OFF(tm) Brand Mosquito Repellant logo repeating all over it in bright orange? If so, is it supposed to somehow intimidate mosquitos into staying clear of you, or only your fellow shoppers?

Any help addressing these pressing issues would be appreciated...

Since the second pack of hot dogs was FREE, your business at the cashier was finished. The clerk should have rung you out, bagged your weenies and let you stroll back on your own to get the freebie weenies while she served the next customer. (There are so many unintended double-entendres in this comment that I think I'll go lie down with some cracked ice now!)

I would like to say this...if it was as good a grocery store as I worked in they would have sent someone to get the hot dogs for you.

Nice sprinting Dave (snicker). I was behind the woman behind you and was poking her in the ribs to "stfu!" Just kidding... I didn't mind you getting the hot dogs....it was the six pack of Yahoo, the Always maxipads and Preparation H you brought back to the counter that I took issue with.

Hey, it wasn't you sprinting back to get the free hot dogs that annoyed all of us in line, it was when you re-sprinted back to get more buns for the free hot dogs, and then remembered there was not enough pickles in the house, and oh yes the potato chips, and then there was a 2-for on the other brand of buns and you said you liked them better, but then you came back with the wrong sized package, and then...

So easily bullied by women, Dave? Marriage has trained you well, Wussboy. I guess you really needed those wieners afterall. Just sayin.......

Aww! Steve play nice!

So, Dave, the well has finally run dry? Obviously you don't do your own grocery shopping, movie stars and Pullet Surprise winners have people to do these things for them...Probably time to just confess you're (temporarily, I trust) out of ideas and patiently await a new one.. We're patient, we're your fans.

I'm with Garret. I think Dave fell for the classic "Free Weiner Gambit" designed to ensnared otherwise thoughtful and courteous celebrities in compromising situations, a la Frank Gifford.

Whose weiner ended up costing him big time.

I agree with Stash.

I've had a cashier allow me to leave my bagged groceries in the cart up front while I get whatever it was that was needed. When I come back up front, I wait until I can catch the cashier's eye to get the "all clear" to leave the store.

rim shot

Frank Gifford's considered a celebrity?

I had an even more embarrasing situation just the other day. I was waiting in a regular checkout line at Winn Dixie with a very full shopping cart, behind several others with full carts.

Next to our lane was the express lane, and the cashier, a very nice young man, had so customers, so he waved and said he would be glad to take me. Of course, I gratefully switched over.

Naturally, as soon as I switched over, about 8 express customers, each with 1 or 2 items and obviously in a hurry, materialized behind me. You could have fried eggs with the glares I was getting.

The people behind you could've gone to a DIFFERENT register. But I guess that never occurs to anybody...

Also, speaking of people in a hurry: Just a memo to anybody who has the nerve to ride a student drivers butt when they're going the SPEED LIMIT (you know those little signs with numbers on them that tell you how fast you're supposed to go?): You are a complete jerk and the lowest of low crapweasels!

This is absolutely Presidential campaign material!

After all WHO, but Dave, would address the important issues of our day by going public with "The Rules"?!

After all WHO, but Dave, would continue to address the important issues when it comes to minor infractions of "The Rules"?!

WHO, but Dave, has the Presidetial fortitude to admit he was coerced into the minor infraction?!

I ask you, WHO, among our other candidates, has taken the Moral High Ground in this and the other leading issues of our time?! Namely low flow toilets.

Need I say more? DAVE FOR PRESIDENT!!!!

ellen: that's why my son REFUSES to stand in line for me.

stash: yessssssss.

and: the last time i was in the express lane, i had two six-packs of heineken, and wanted to get them for the price of the 12-pack that was on sale (they've done this many times before)... but this time they said no. they wanted to send someone back to "check in the back" for 12-packs, because they had no proof they were out. "this is the EXPRESS LANE," i said. "there are people waiting for me to check out." "that's all right, they insisted; we have to finish with one customer before taking the next one."

that's gotta be against the rules.

i ended up taking a rain check instead.

This is exactly why you should never judge another person even if they SEEM like a clueless jerk.

This person could in all actuality be a world famous humorist who was forced, against his will, to cause unrest and irritation in the line behind him.

You will, of course, be amply rewarded with an anonymous mention in his column or blog.

This will certainly make up for the fact that you were late to your kid's soccer game and missed the only goal he has scored all year.

Dave, there's always the George Carlin Contingency. Load up a cart with an enormous amount of groceries, find a person in line with just a few items, and ask to go first BECAUSE you're in such a hurry.

Stash wins today's prize.

It's happened to me, except for the 8 people appearing on line part. Since the second package of weiners was free, you sould have waited until the pushy clerk finished ringing up your order, paid (having your money ready to hand, of course), then left the bag(s) on the counter while you strolled back for the second package of weiners.

Of course, your way makes a much funnier and more satisfying story. (Except to you of course.)

MeL, I want to shop at your store.

MeL and Judi: there are stores -- and cashiers -- who will go get the item for you, and others like Judi's who won't believe anything you say unless they check it for themselves. Most stores will either substitute another brand (Heineken: good taste, Judi) or let you take the two six packs when they're out of a sale item. However, it can be very frustrating, as sometimes you get a new person who doesn't know how to do anything but run your items over the scanner (that sounds sexual, somehow, or is it just me?). When you try to explain that the item you want is out of stock and you want to substitute you get one of two responses:

1. Most commonly, since they don't know what they're doing and you seem to, they just take your word for it and let you do what you want. ("We're out of the generic diet cola and you want to substitute a 12 pack of Heineken, Ms. Smith, no problem.")
2. They only know what they are taught and are too rigid to do anything else. In this case, get a supervisor.

This is fun, Dave! Any more problems for us to help out with?

should, not sould


If you are ever in South Dakota, you just let me know. I'll break out the bon bons.

I also was one of those 8 people, Dave. You conveniently neglected to tell your readers that while you were running back for the dogs, you also had to stop to chat with 2 friends, make a pit stop, and buy an ice cream cone for a 4-year old boy. We were ready to lynch you by the time you returned.

Please God don't tell us that Dave was still wearing the blue movie shirt as he was "sprinting," wieners in hand, (that doesn't sound right) back to the register.

MeL, Frank Gifford's a minor celebrity for being a sports commentator AND a player in the NFL. He was once tackled so hard he was unconcious and almost dead; he didn't return to play for months. The long-term effects are apparent whenever he tries to compose a sentence.

On another topic, I was in the Wal-Mart in Tucson once and waited HALF AN HOUR as the person ahead attempted to pay. I was too polite to go see HOW she was attempting to pay, but judging by the delay I assume it was a North Korean check.

Jeff: yes, it's just you.

Punky, how would the cashier know they were urinal pennies?

How do ANY OF US know about the pennies in our pockets?!!?!!?

Rant ahead:

In addition to observing The Rules, if you are paying with a check, locate your checkbook, and write everything but the amount before the clerk announces the total.

DO NOT WAIT until that time to start looking for your checkbook!

I propose another rule to the list. As a profoundly poor college student, I have to say that free food should trump any other facet of the situation. Free food should always be pursued. Always. The woman behind you was right, Dave. You owe nobody an apology.

I personally have eaten nothing but Ramen noodles and off brand oatmeal for the past two weeks, and you all better believe I'd inconvenience the whole lot of you for an hour for a free package of hot dogs.

and I consider myself an unusually considerate person. It's just that desperate times call for desperate measures.

gfunk, you need to find out when events are happening on campus with food. Never mind if it's the million-dollar donors' club. Walk in, eat some free food, and walk out when someone notices.

Oh, I do, John, I do.

The other day I posed as a senior for five hours so I could attend the graduation reception and eat finger food.

Oh, and there was wine, too.

Just noting that there are now about 17 of those 8 having reported in...

Of course, since I had flown in from Dallas, just to take advantage of the weiner special, I was quite annoyed by the thoughtlessness of this action, and immediately went to find a snake to put in Dave's mailbox.

I wrapped it in a new shirt.

Um, since the cashier already had one package of wieners there, why didn't she just scan it again, finish the order, then let Dave hunt after his free weiners while she went on to the next order?

This brings up another observation: Even if you forgot an item, but you know what it is, the days of the "price check" are over. Almost all supermarkets are computerized and the clerk could simply ring it up (the price is in the system!) and let you go fetch it afterward without holding up the line. But that never happens, y'know why not? Because of the bar-code scanner. If the clerk can't wave the thing around for awhile until she(he) hears that "beep", then they're totally confused and everything comes to a stop.
Want to have even more fun? Suppose the total comes to $57.97. Give the clerk three twenties and two pennies. Guaranteed to stop traffic for half-an-hour, cause a riot and bring most clerks to tears! Ah... mathematics is so cruel.

gfunk - as a former college student, the mall food court is a great place for a free meal. Just walk counter to counter sampling the goods, take a small trip to the drinking fountain, then start again. Most of the time you can get a good three trips in before they start to notice.

Another good one, more on topic, is Saturday Sample days at the grocery. You can usually get a full three course meal there!

Hey Bangi - Ever play "Wheel of Fortune?"

One thing that has always bugged me is when you are in line and the person in front of you doesn't even bother to pull out their wallet until after everything has been rung up and the cashier is waiting for you to decide if you're going to pay. It's like these people are totally surprised that they actually have to pay for the items they brought to the register. Sheesh!

Here's a question: If I took a case of yogurt with more than twelve actual yogurt things in it, does that count as a single item?

Mudstuffin, I was afraid of that. Sorry.

Bangi_G: wow. Great system!

jenjen: the mall food court is good, as there is always at least one person offering teriyaki (subservient) chicken samples. I'm not sure why they are always giving that away, unless it's what Punky suggested above. (Glad I didn't have pork for lunch.)

I was going to suggest Costco, where they generally have several stations giving out a bunch of free samples, but you need to be a member to get in. But you could try my brother's method: just walk in with a group or a couple who are not paying close attention (most of us). Teenage girls are the best, as they'll be talking up a storm and won't notice you no matter what.

Dave, you should have bought another shirt as your free product. It's time to retire that blue shirt. Or maybe you're wash cycle is daily?

Pete: covered that in the past. We agree.

Daniel: general consensus seems to be if it is sold at a single price (i.e. a six-pack) it counts as one item. If it's individual items, then what Punky said. Of course if something is 3 for $1 (say) then that should really only be one, but it's 3. I'm so confused.

Bangi, I like the "drop off the list" approach. Is there a charge for the service?

"aisle of sauces" would bagnfarb


I don't think you have to be a member at Costco to get a prescription filled there (maybe/maybe not, call to find out). Also, I'd bet you could finagle a free guest pass just to 'check things out'. That's a possible way to get in for free food. They often do have a lot of samples and ours always has free coffee. There are also a few supermarkets here that have omni-present samples.

I owed my svelte collegiate figure to Ramen noodles, diet coke, cheap Chinese food (who knows what I ate), even cheaper pizza.

Get a job at a restaurant. (pay stinks, horrible working conditions, but you can eat)

I hate Ramen noodles now. Also lack svelte collegiate figure.

Know any married 30-40 yr old couples with kids? I feed college students pretty often . Just say you really miss home cooking. Most moms can't stand to hear that someone is hungry. Especially if they themselves were ever poor college students.

Punkster - if you look at the preservatives in hotdogs, they have a half life of about 10K years.

Super cheap college food: A hundred years ago we could get 5 loaves of white bread and 5 Lbs of Lucky Buy Margerine (vaguely yellow grease) for $2. We made "mock tenderloin" sandwiches. (a "tenderloin" was a pork fritter). Squash one slice of bread real flat and fry it in margerine. When golden brown add mayo to the other two slices and insert the brown one between them.

I just hope Dave's apology to the Hot Dog 8, is full-disclosure, and that he doesn't have to post a further expression of regret about having denting someone's car with his shopping cart.

Dave is doing a superb job shopping and we stand behind him 1000%.

More cheap food: Rice is cheap as is pasta. Add most any leftovers you have.

Poor man's rice-a-roni: brown some rice and vermicelli along with diced onion and any bits of left over meat and veggies you can scrounge. Add boiling water and simmer until water is absorbed.

Davy, correct response: "Yo lady, I got your wiener right here!"

Right now I'm a broke 20 year old living with her aunt, but soon (if all goes well), I'll be a broke college student studying in Paris. I'm finding these recipes very interesting and if you people keep adding them I might copy and paste them onto Word to keep for when I have only 2€.


Yes, the dumpster behind the Chez Ritz is probably loaded with duck a'lorange, lobster bisque and green beans woven into those little baskets. But the best part is the presentation!

Rita: LOL. "Designated decoy." Great.

Marie: good luck in Paris. One thing you can always do there is get fabulous bread dirt cheap (kept low by law, unless it's been changed). Add a little wine and cheese and voila!

>>So I sprinted to the hot-dog section

You sprint? What did you do the 50 in in gym class back in the '60's. I would guess around 8 seconds. That's right you attended gym class every tues and thurs. which helped defeat the Russians. So, you being in the movies and all makes your sprint to the weiners an eight seconds over Oscar Mayer movie?

smartyjones: hey, were you in my gym class too?

With any luck (and God knows I don't have any), I'll have to pay astronomical rent to live within 50km of Paris, and then have a long commute on a train, and then of course deal with those bastard professors at the university and final exams and the constant strikes that you get in Paris, and people protesting God knows what on the main avenues and blocking all traffic up to Rouen...

Ah, yeah. I love Paris. Vive la France!

Waytago, rita! :-) I'd offer to be one of the "designated decoys", but *hic* I was one of the other drivers ;-)

Oh, on-topic, Dave...karma...that is all....

I once went to cashier at wal-mart with items that totaled about $3. As it turned out, one of the items was somehow missing its sticker. I told the cashier the price, but she, smiling in a way that only could be described as sick, phoned for a price check. We waited, and waited. The line behind us was looping through the store as they muttered murderous thoughts--none of which were directed at the deserving cashier. I offered to go find a replacement item WITH the bloody stupid sticker, but the offer got a harsh denial with an even sicker smile. Finally, ask when the heck this price check is going to happen, and she replies it will be ANOTHER FIFTEEN MINUTES. At this point, I briefly considered beating her to death with my items, but instead just said, flatly, that that was completely unacceptable. At this point, she tells me to leave the line, and leave the items.

I somehow was able to stop myself from murder, but was so flipping angry I couldn't think straight. Perhaps this explains why I went to stand in line in customer service. I was in THAT line at least ten minutes, and when I got to the counter and explained the situation, I got the exact same sickly smile, AND an insistence that the cashier was exactly right, and the service was exemplary.

When I left Wal-Mart, my anger rays must have been palpable from Pluto, and oh, there was still no sign of a price check. Perhaps the person who does it must fly in from a different planet, or solar system.

So, important lessons:

1> the wal-mart smiley is completely vacant behind the grin, and he can turn on you in an instant if you notice how stupid and hateful he really is. So, be twice as polite and three times as suspicious...

2>If you are in a line, and it's not moving, and is giving all signs it will never move, such as you can see dust settling on your body, do not assume it's a customer up there you need to stake.
Maybe you need mr pointy for your turn at the register, if it ever comes.

3>check everything for stickers and tags, double check if you happen to be in wal-mart. But if the tag doesn't work, you're still toast.

4>if they say 'price check'--it doesn't matter what you were hoping to get, you'll never see it in your lifetime--just leave.

Rita, if you don't have a cent, Paris can be a complete BITCH because everything is so expensive, even if your bank account is in Euros.

But at least you can wander around the city walking for free, which is nice until a cop notices you in your "broke college student" uniform: scruffy jeans, scruffy shirt with numerous anonymous stains, and sneakers so old you can see the yellow stuffing inside it. And then he arrests you for loitering.

So Dave is sprinting. Does this mean he is also doing all his own stunts in the movie. Flying Slo-Mo Hawaiian Shirt Kicks wbagnfarb.

The cheese in France is spectacular most of the time, but I could live without wine (I don't drink). The bread is very good, too, but you have to know where to buy it!


Well, Marie is one of my names, too... It's the French version of my name which I use in France, or with my French boyfriend.


I like this blog a lot, but normally I lurk. Sometimes you people scare me, especially Bangi.

Right now I'm in Barcelona living with my aunt (she moved here a few years ago), and I'm trying to get a student visa to go study in Paris. If I can't get to Paris, anywhere else in France will do.


I was given the name Marie by my French teacher when I just started learning the language. The idea was that everybody in my class should take the French version of their name and use it for the rest of high school French. Not bad. If I were a language teacher now, I'd make my students do that.

Of all alcoholic drinks, I only like one called frênette (made out of ash tree leaves), and it has less than 1% alcohol.

I could be the "designated decoy" for you all, since I don't drink! :-)


Hey, now, Marie, Bangi's cool. How is she any scarier than the reat of us?

Yes, she's OK, it's just that with all her bursting into flames, she makes a scary figure. :-p

Well, I have to go now... Maybe I'll lurk tomorrow... or post... don't know yet...



I did the Ramen noodles / peanut butter thing too. The only difference was that I used a spoonful of curry powder and a dollop of ketchup as well. Tre magnifique!

I served this to my then future wife, who loved it and asked for the recipe. When I told her there was peanut butter in it, she got made, as if I was playing a prank on her.

Oh, and Bangi is not frightening, she's my sister.

poor Dave

Mudstuffin: Hmmm, I thought that Bangi wasn't heavy, he was my Brother. I gotta lay off the frênette. . .

the reason I get to eat like this now is that I'm saving all my money so I can eat in Christchurch, New Zealand next fall. Anybody out there ever been to New Zealand and have some pointers?

or know of any good dumpsters thereabouts?

or recipes including peanut butter and wombat?

Jeff-I was one of those cashiers that would go get it for you. It's actually in the job description at the store I worked at. :P

Actually, it was Dave's blog that got mentioned.

Oops, that was from last year - fooled me with a current date at the top of the screen

He can do physics, but he can't read. Eesh.

a great point, elf, but yet, since they're in the southern hemisphere, they're actually approaching chilly there. No pants and chilliness is a bad idea, methinks. Or, at least, mylegsthinks.

I wasn't gonna say it, punky. Shoulda known somebody else would have come up with it.

You bastard! It's hypocrites like you that preach one thing and do another that give good Americans a bad name.

I think this movie thing has gone to your head. It's so typical of movie stars and celebrities to assume the natural rules of society don't apply to them.

You should have stood to your principles and REFUSED to accept your free hot dogs. I hope your guity conscience ruins the taste of those free hot dogs when you get around to eating them someday -- probably on or about August 26, 2032. (But don't worry, they won't spoil.)

Marie(s) and Rita(s): STOP IT! My head is spinning!

Rita, please go back to 2398, I'm begging you. At least I could tell who you were at a glance.

And Marie/Rita? "Marie IS my name. I'm stuck with it. Which is why I use Rita online." How about Rita P for Paris? Otherwise my head will explode. Or Rita Marie?

And how can you be afraid of Bangi? She's a doll.

I think "Paris-See" would be a good name for a French travel agency.

Why not just study in Barcelona, Marie? Gosh, I wish I had an aunt in Barcelona! :)

gfunk, doing a study abroad stint? So am I! Next year I'll be in St. Petersburg, Russia. I also worry about running out of food to eat. I'm going to have to get a second job. I really don't want to. That takes a lot out of you.

"Anybody out there ever been to New Zealand and have some pointers?'"

Bring a jacket or two, and watch out for those sneaky little Hobbitses.

Well, I don't understand why the cashier didn't just give Dave a rain check - like, mark his receipt, indicating that he had one package of franks coming to him.

But Dave, Oscar Mayer? Sheesh! Nathan's or Hebrew National!!!!!

(However, there is something very endearing about a famous, Pulitzer Prize winning author being told he qualified for a buy-one-get-one-free hotdog sale. I mean that in a nice way, too.)

I wish I were an Oscar Mayer weiner. That's what I'd really like to be!! Cause if I were an Oscar Mayer weiner, everyone would be in love with me!!

*I'm kind of surprised this didn't come up earlier*

Oh geez, how the hell did that one get by. We must be slipping. No Wiener Mobile link posted either!


I suspect that, in exchange for being allowed to drive the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile, Dave had to sign a contract stating he would only purchase their brand of frankenmeat.

(Frankenmeat WBAGNFARB or Porno)


You've seen "Deliverance"? That's what Christchurch is like. Try Auckland instead. Much warmer for one thing.

"Anybody out there ever been to New Zealand and have some pointers?'"

Weinermobile, schmeinermobile. I can't believe someone asked for "some pointers" and the crew didn't start gabbling about New Zealand ramparts. Will you return with presents? I would like a baby apteryx.

I used to live in Paris and now I live in 'province' which is everything that's not Paris. Paris is kind of hard if you're broke. Everyone ends up shopping at Monoprix because they're sort of nice and have most stuff. But they are way too expensive. When in doubt, go to a North African place. If you don't like kefta, you soon will...
And you can usually manage the cops by dating one. Worked for me.

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