CUSTOMER'S GUIDE TO SUPERMARKET SHOPPING

1. When in the express lane, make sure that all items are rung up and bagged before you start looking for your checkbook. Then, after you make a futile search for your pen, borrow one from the clerk and make sure your checkbook is balanced before giving up the check.

2. Never get into the 10-Items-or-Less line with less than 12 items.  IT'S THE LAW!!!

3. When in the 10-Items-or-Less line and you have your 12 to 20 items, always ask the clerk if it's okay. That way, if he says "yes," then the people behind you will get mad at HIM, not you. If he says "no," then YOU can get mad at him. Either way, you win!

4. Save all your pennies and dump them in the bottom of your purse so that when you are in the express lane you won't be embarrassed by spending all that time looking for one and not finding any.

5. When asked if you want paper or plastic, take all the time you need to make the right decision. Don't be rushed. Get it right. If you're not sure just say, "BAG."  That way they will have to ask you again, giving you more time to decide. You may want to practice this at home in case you are ever asked this question at a grocery store.

6. Always, and I repeat, ALWAYS tell the checker your reason for choosing paper or plastic. Checkers by nature are very curious and if you should fail to give them your reason for choosing paper over plastic, the clerk is liable to lie awake at night wondering why you didn't choose plastic.

7. Always keep this in mind: If something is heavy and you don't want to lift it out of the basket and put it on the belt. Don't fret whether the checker will automatically know the price. After all, everyone knows how smart those clerks are.

8. Since everyone knows how ignorant those clerks are, you must always remember to tell them to not put the eggs and bread in the bottom of the bag.

9. Feel free to ask your clerk anything you may want to know. All checkers are experts on how to prepare whatever meal you should decide to make that night. They can give you precise directions to anywhere in the state you might want to go. They can tell you the best restaurant around, the kind of wine you will like best or anything else you may need to know about life. After all, everyone knows how smart those clerks are.

10. Don't forget rule NO. 8

11. After waiting in the checkout line for several minutes and it's finally your turn at the counter, be sure to tell the clerk that more help is needed. He will certainly ensure that there is plenty of help next time.

12. When the clerk greets you and asks how you're doing, don't feel pressured into answering him. After all the clerk has to be polite-- but you don't have to.

13. When the store is not busy and there is only one check-stand with a light on, be sure to ask the nearest clerk which check stand is open. You don't want to take a chance being tricked into the wrong one.

14. If the clerk asks you if you know the price of an item and you don't, tell him it's "2-something" or "3-something." The clerks love that because they don't get to use their SOMETHING keys very often . . .