Beware of the shopping cart zombie invasion

Trader zombies are multiplying at an appalling rate. I’m talking about people who suddenly stop in the middle of a grocery aisle and become brain dead.

If you stand behind these people, you can say, “Excuse me. Excuse me. Excuse me.”

You won’t get any response.

Or, the trader zombie will slowly turn and stare in your direction. Their eyes, however, seem unfocused. They don’t see you. There is no acknowledgment that you exist, or that they understand the meaning of what you said.

Communication is impossible. After several minutes, the zombie will walk away aimlessly.

Follow remotely. Be careful, because the zombie can back up, very slowly, and come towards you… arms outstretched on his shopping cart.

“They have to see me”, you will say to yourself. “I’m right in front of them.”

But they don’t see. They just keep coming. They can actually ram their carts into you.

To be clear, I’m not referring to distracted shopping, a major problem in big box stores.

The distracted shopper will also stop in an aisle, but can be identified by their cell phone, which they hold high to take pictures of items on a store shelf.

This apparently requires them to step back several steps from the shelf or bend at the waist to create a rump extension that effectively prevents others from getting behind them.

The distracted shopper will then start texting someone – a spouse, friend, relative in a foreign country – apparently explaining why they’re sending a photo of a toilet seat.

While waiting for a response, a long line of customers, including crying children, may form. This will include onlookers trying to figure out why anyone would want to send photos of a toilet seat to someone else.

People waiting in the queue, some in dire need of a toilet themselves, reversed their carts, bumping into other shoppers. There are cries of pain, muttered obscenities and signs of general distress.

The distracted buyer isn’t aware of this because, well, they’re waiting for a response to their text. They may even start talking to someone on the phone, describing at length the product they photographed and detailing why they didn’t bring a tape measure to the store.

I’ve tried asking store employees to intervene in such situations, but they’re usually too involved in their own phone conversations to be bothered.

The distracted shopper is often mistaken for a zombie shopper, as both tend to attract high-energy children. It is natural to assume that these children are related to zombies, but since there is no recognizing light in the zombies’ dead eyes, it is impossible to determine if this is true.

At one point, you can see zombie shoppers gathering from all directions at one point in the store, as if communicating telepathically. This happens when a store employee sets up a booth and begins handing out food samples.

“Mmmmmm, Mmmmmm, Ohmmmmm,” the zombies will moan as they head for the gifts.

Unable to reason as they are brain dead, they smash their shopping carts into each other repeatedly as they circle the food sampler stand with outstretched hands.

Don’t approach them. It’s your only chance to get away and shop with the aisles clear.

Of course, inevitably you’ll find yourself in a cash register queue behind a zombie.

He will hold coupons with two-year expiration dates or an insufficient wad of cash to pay for purchased items. Or, my favorite, repeatedly try to swipe a credit card through a machine that says “insert chip here”.

The zombies are multiplying.

But fewer and fewer people seem to notice it.

They are too busy texting.

Send letters to: letters@suntimes.com.


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Peggy P. Gilmore