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March 20, 2023

The Shoppers

By Eric Suhem

The professional shoppers are always in the large box store, but they never buy anything. They troll the aisles with shopping carts, placing groceries in the baskets. Boxes of cereal, cans of shrimp, bags of apples and rolls of paper towels. The shoppers partake of the toothpick-skewered culinary samples that are offered along the way: cheeses, meats, pastries, chunks of eggplant. The food samples give them energy while they veer through the rows of consumables. As they roam the store, the shoppers surreptitiously return the previously procured items back to their original shelf positions, rendering their shopping carts empty after a few minutes. The process is repeated multiple times after consumption of more free toothpick-skewered food samples.

A security guard is not unaware of their activities, and he addresses one of the apparent ringleaders of the shopping group. "What's going on here? I've noticed you going up and down the aisles, removing things, and then putting them back. If you're going to shop here, then I suggest that you make the purchases, and then leave!"

The ringleader chews on a toothpick-jabbed cheese sample and replies to the guard, "We were placed here by the head office as part of a marketing campaign to convey the message of high-volume activity in this particular store. Unless you want to lock horns with the CEO at the mothership, we suggest that you move out of the way and let us continue with our revenue stimulation, which may ultimately guarantee your continued employment."

"Why wasn't I told about this?" demands the security guard.

"Because you are not a major player in the business direction of this company," replies the ringleader, waving a toothpick-jabbed sausage doodle in his face. The security guard furrows his brows and steps back, allowing the shoppers to continue with their activity.

One of the shoppers, Rhonda, sees a box labeled 'A Nice Day', and informs the ringleader that she would like to buy it. "You know the rules, actual purchases can only be done on your own time," says the ringleader. After the work shift, Rhonda returns to the store and buys the box labeled 'A Nice Day'.

The next day Rhonda calls the ringleader on her cell phone. "I won't be in today, I'm going to have A Nice Day," says Rhonda while looking at the newly-purchased box.

"What? I had you penciled in for the frozen foods aisle. That's a critical aisle!" replies the ringleader.

Rhonda clicks the phone off and packs the box labeled 'A Nice Day' into her car. She drives to the beach and swims in the waves, feeling invigorated by the energy of the ocean. Then she meets a friend for lunch at a restaurant overlooking the sea.

Back at work the next day, Rhonda is informed by the ringleader that she's been fired. "We've replaced you with Helen, who is reliable, though inexperienced. We will mold her into a top-shelf professional shopper," says the ringleader while turning toward one of the aisles. "Helen, stop staring at the labels, move it!"

Rhonda looks for another 'A Nice Day' box, but they're sold out.

Article © Eric Suhem. All rights reserved.
Published on 2019-12-23
Image(s) are public domain.
2 Reader Comments
12:51:19 PM
Even after seven years, I still get a tremendous kick out of the comic series, "The Supermarket" -- and got an extra cackle when #20 was referenced in this short. Thanks, Eric!
10:35:39 PM
Funny story. Rhonda did have "A Nice Day"
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