Lobster, Anyone?

November 17, 2000

Shopping online for gifts, toys, books, music, and a lot of other things is a good idea. The latest big idea, shopping online for groceries (that is, food), is a bad idea. All the problems with shipping, spoilage, and mistakes are minimal. You’re running many of the same risks in a regular grocery store. There’s a much more sinister reason. But first let’s consider all the reasons why grocery shopping online might seem like a good thing:

  • The organization of grocery stores. In my local grocery store, sugar is in the same aisle with spices, flavorings, and powdered butter substitute. Salt is in a different aisle with corn starch, bug spray, and cleaning products.

  • The other customers. Parking in a grocery store parking lot is asking to have someone bang their grocery cart into your car. It’s a little known fact that new cars especially are equipped with magnets that attract grocery store carts. Then, once you’re in the store, there are always people who insist on turning their carts sideways and blocking the entire aisle while they read the complete ingredients of every brand of breakfast cereal.

  • The grocery store employees. The other night I asked a grocery store employee where I could find green salsa. Actually I had to scream at him for several minutes before the volume of his headphones dipped low enough for him to realize there was someone talking to him. His answer was, "Nobody wants it so we don’t stock it anymore." He then danced away from me, robbing me of the chance to ask why, if no one wants it, I was asking for it.

  • The checkout. Most stores have a fewer-than-ten-items "express lane". This express lane is usually clearly marked, which explains why, if you’re 102 and dragging around two carts with 3000 different kinds of canned goods, you’ll always head for the express lane. And if I actually have fewer than ten items, you’ll find some way to be in line ahead of me.

So why, with all these frustrations, why do I think online shopping is a bad idea? It’s because of the lobsters. A lot of grocery stores have a big tank of live lobsters. Most of the time they just bumble around in the big empty tank, but the other night as I went by, I realized they were all staring at me. Call me paranoid, but I have a feeling that if you put that many lobsters together for long enough, they’ll develop intelligence. At least in the grocery store, with customers going back and forth, we can keep an eye on them. If online shopping takes over, those lobsters will be in a big, empty warehouse. Only Roger, the former grocery store employee, will be there, and he’ll be too busy packing three-year old yogurt and be-bopping to his pocket stereo to notice that the lobsters have just stolen his forklift.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


Leaps tall buildings in a single bound
ls more powerful than a locomotive
Is faster than a speeding bullet
Walks on water
Talks with God

Leaps short buildings in a single bound
Is more powerful than a switch engine
Is faster than a speeding BB
Walks on water if the sea is calm
Talks with God if special request is approved

Leaps short buildings with a running start and favorable winds
Is almost as powerful as a switch engine
Can fire a speeding bullet
Walks on water in an indoor swimming pool
Is occasionally addressed by God

Barely clears a Quonset hut
Loses tug-of-war with a locomotive
Can sometimes handle a gun without inflicting self injury
Swims well
Talks to animals

Makes high marks on the wall when trying to leap buildings
Is run over by a locomotive
Is not issued ammunition
Dog paddles
Talks to walls

Runs into buildings
Recognizes a locomotive two out of three times
Wets himself with a water pistol
Can’t stay afloat without a life preserver
Mumbles to himself

Lifts buildings and walks under them
Kicks locomotives off the tracks
Catches speeding bullets in her teeth and eats them
Freezes water with a single glance
Is God

A lawyer and a blonde are sitting next to each other on a long flight from LA to NY. The lawyer leans over to her and asks if she would like to play a fun game. The blonde just wants to take a nap, so she politely declines and rolls over to the window to catch a few winks.

The lawyer persists and explains that the game is really easy and a lot of fun. He explains "I ask you a question, and if you don’t know the answer, you pay me $5, and visa-versa."

Again, she politely declines and tries to get some sleep.

The lawyer, now somewhat agitated, says, "Okay, if you don’t know the answer you pay me $5, and if I don’t know the answer, I will pay you $50!" figuring that since she is a blonde that he will easily win the match.

This catches the blonde’s attention and, figuring that there will be no end to this torment unless she plays, agrees to the game.

The lawyer asks the first question. "What’s the distance from the earth to the moon?" The blonde doesn’t say a word, reaches into her purse, pulls out a five-dollar bill and hands it to the lawyer.

Now, it’s the blonde’s turn. She asks the lawyer "What goes up a hill with three legs, and comes down with four?" The lawyer looks at her with a puzzled look. He takes out his laptop computer and searches all his references. He taps into the Airphone with his modem and searches the Net and the Library of Congress. Frustrated, he sends Emails to all his coworkers and friends he knows. All to no avail.

After over an hour, he wakes the blonde and hands her $50. The blonde politely takes the $50 and turns away to get back to sleep.

The lawyer, who is more than a little miffed, wakes the blonde and asks, "Well, so what IS the answer!?"

Without a word, the blonde reaches into her purse, hands the lawyer $5, and goes back to sleep.

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