I have a suggestion for supermarket owners.

Please add a toolbox with these handy gadgets to the grocery cart to make the shopping experience more efficient.

One rubber thumb.

This is for the klutz shopper (me) who can't open a plastic produce bag. I just needed one purple onion, but I couldn't carry it naked to the checkout. I peeled the bag from the roll without a problem, then rubbed my thumb and index finger over the end of the bag to open it. Nothing. The bag obviously was flawed and welded together.

After making more cricket sounds with my fingers without separating the bag, I flipped it upside down and worked on the other end. Nothing.

When the coast was clear, I spit on my fingers and opened the bag without a hassle.

One magnifying glass.

I refuse to buy a product without first reading its expiration date. It doesn't matter if the hot dog buns are green and as solid as paving stones as long as the date is next week. I have faith in that number.

Unfortunately, it's a treasure hunt trying to find a date on some products. I squint and scrutinize. I get paranoid. Has the manufacturer deliberately circumvented the consumer protection rules by printing the date on top of the name of the product? Finally, I spy two numbers trailing off the net weight - a "6" and a "2." Is it June 2? 1962? What is the meaning of this?

The magnifying glass is needed, too, for anyone who is brave enough to read the contents of a can or package. I'm sure there are some four-year-olds with perfect vision who can read sodium contents. Unfortunately, they can't pronounce those big chemical words in that paragraph at the end.

I've used a jeweler's loupe before to go over a chocolate chip muffin package checking for an expiration and fat content, but it's really time consuming. However, if I'm going to invest in that many calories, then by golly, I want fresh ones.

The worst products for dates are the ones in the freezer cases.

Call me paranoid again, but I've opened the freezer door before and caught a culprit with a hose. I'm pretty sure that his job is hosing off the expiration dates.

One hammer.

This is needed when you get a grocery cart with a bum wheel that is frozen in place. I generally kick at these until they function, but a hammer would work better.

Sometimes, a hammer is needed to extract a cart in the first place when it's permanently nested with its neighbor.

One long grabber.

Inevitably, the last bag of Starbucks coffee is on the top shelf and way back to boot.

I finally retrieved it the other day by clearing a spot on the lowest shelf and using it like a ladder, then lunging for the bag.

Then I borrowed another shopper's glasses to read the expiration.

One supermarket has a shopper-friendly sign that says something along the lines of "ask for assistance for impossible to reach items." Who has time to scout an acre of store to find an assistant? This is where the next tool would come in handy.

One whistle.

This could be used, too, to discourage shoppers who try to breeze through the express lane with an illegal number of groceries.

Hey, it'd be more civilized than beating them over the head with that divider stick at the register.

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