By William Thomas

One day you hear on the news that a major airline has just purchased the supermarket chain where you happen to be a regular customer and you think – that’s weird.  Those airline people don’t know anything about the retail food industry!?!  But then you remember – those airline people don’t know much about the airline industry either.  Hence – all those stories about passengers trapped on planes on tarmacs for 24 hours with no food and overflowing toilets.

You don’t think much about it until the next time you go to your local grocery store and you get mugged at the front door by the Salvation Army lady.

“That’s a pretty aggressive Sally Ann solicitor out there.  She hit me up for twenty bucks,” you say to the manager.

“No, we got rid of all those charity cases.  She’s our new, uniformed parking lot attendant.”

“Parking?  We gotta pay for parking?  At a grocery store?”

“Yeah, $20 per visit, but it’s only $99 for the whole week.  For one low price you can come here and shop every day.”

“That’s highway robbery!  From now on I’ll walk here and leave my car at home.”

“Why walk when you can take our new City-Wide Supermarket Shuttle.”

“What’s that going to cost me?”

“Your car.”

“Why do the grocery carts have license plates?”

“Those are our In-Store Transport Rental Vehicles.  We rent them for ten dollars an hour.”

“That’s outrageous.  What’s that small screen in front of the baby seat?”

“That’s a DVD monitor for the kiddies.  They can watch cartoons and animated movies for free.”


“Yeah.  The ear buds are seven dollars in case they want sound.”

“And that little black knob?”

“That’s the Tiny Tot Sugar Transponder.  That goes off every time the child gets near cookies, candies and ice cream.”

“Doesn’t matter.  I don’t have kids.”

“That’s okay, we rent those too.”

“Why are all the aisles different sizes?”

“The really narrow ones you see where customers have to walk sideways?  Those are the Economy Aisles.  They’re free.”

“And the wide ones?”

“The spacious ones where you can walk normal and operate a cart?  Those are the new Customer Comfort Zones.  They’re ten bucks an hour extra.”

“You gotta be kidding!”

“As a bonus, the wide aisles offer free food samples.”


“The samples are free.  Napkins cost five dollars each.”

“What happened to all the people who worked at the checkout counters?”

“We got rid of them.  Now all these new checkout counters are fully automated and every one of them is an express line, 10 items or less.”

“How much?”

“A modest 25cent surcharge on each item.”

“What if I have 20 items?”

“You go through twice.  Over here is our new Emergency Medical Room, complete with defibrillators, oxygen tanks, neck braces, IV hook-ups.  Someday this could save your life.”

“That explains the banner.”

“A little in-store promotional joke – Our Ding Dongs Are to Die For.  That was my idea.”

“What’s that cost?  The life saving?”

“Well that would be awkward not to mention indelicate – trying to extract cash or debit cards from someone who is possibly dying so …”

“Personal check?”

“No— starting today, all shoppers must have their credit card numbers tattooed on their wrists.”

“Are you serious?”

“Don’t forget the expiration date.”

“What happened to the produce section?”

“We replaced it with state-of-the-art washrooms. Hand towels, seat warmers, the works.”

“No more fruits or vegetables?”

“Of course we have fruit and vegetables … in cans.”

“Let me guess, coin-operated toilets?”

“No, of course not.  Credit card-operated toilets.  With the flick of your wrist you’re in!”

“I won’t pay it!”

“No problem.  We also offer free facilities … at the Shell station two blocks down.”

“Who’s that weird guy in the corner with the gun across his lap?”

“Oh, he’s a sky marshal.  When the airline bought the grocery chain he lost his job.  But he’s our CEO’s brother-in-law, so … he works for us now.”

“What in the hell’s name would an armed guard do in a grocery store?”

“Mostly he makes sure customers aren’t smuggling in their own bags.”

“I can’t bring my own grocery bags anymore?”

“No, for obvious terrorist-related reasons, we will now provide new and safer grocery bags.”

“How much?”

“Five dollars each.”

“They look like the old bags.”

“We strive for continuity.”

“What does the sky marshal do?”

“I’m sorry, I’m not at liberty to say, but if yesterday’s shooting is any indication …”


“Don’t squeeze the Charmin!”


For comments, ideas and

copies of The True Story

of  Wainfleet, go to