If choosing the slowest-moving line at the grocery store was an olympic event, my apartment would be full of gold medals. I am the god damn Michael Phelps of inefficient grocery line selection. If you ever see me at Sobeys or the Superstore and I start moving towards one of the lines, even if I am the only person in that line and every other line is 20 people long, save yourself – DO NOT GET IN MY LINE!
This unfortunate affliction is something that I have had to come to grips with over the years. Trainee employees – my specialty. Extreme couponers – my habitual line-mates. People paying in pennies – my everyday grocery experience. While these characters don’t necessarily expedite my food-shopping habits, they are not the subject of today’s rant. No – this one goes out to a very special guy (who represents many just like him) – the ill-prepared grocery shopper who exists in blissful ignorance of other shoppers and their lives/schedules.
On a recent trip to the grocery store, I was in the line behind a young man. He had a fair number of groceries to purchase. He stood there staring in to space as the cashier rung his items through. He did not put the grocery separator at the end of his pile (a red flag moment). As the last of his items were scanned, it occured to him that he needed another item. “Oh one minute,” he grumbled. “I need to get something else.” The cashier started blankly. Those behind him in line did a simultaneous eye-roll.
I’ve been in his shoes before, realizing that I’ve forgotten an integral grocery item after I’m already in the line. In this case I either a) run like a crazy woman and grab my required item in record time, returning to the check-out before the last of my items is scanned, OR b) just accept that I screwed it up, and come back for that item later. The problem was, this guy’s stuff had already been completely rung in. He left the line anyway, perusing the aisles in search of that one last product. I assumed that whatever he was going back for was an essential ingredient. A minute passed. 2 minutes. 3 minutes. In the context of a grocery store line, this is a very long time. He finally came back, and placed his can of Pringles with the rest of his order. The cashier rung them in. Then he opened his mouth again.
“Oh, I’ve got some coupons.”
“Um…Ok,” muttered the visibly frustrated cashier.
“They’re in my car. I’ll go get them.“
ARE YOU F%$#ING KIDDING ME?! He took off towards the parking lot, appearing to be in no particular rush. A few minutes later he returned with a handful of coupons. He turned to me and laughed, “You guys probably hate me right now huh?” Oh buddy. You have no idea. Based on the absolute effery of this dude, the line behind me had thinned out. In all my years of grocery shopping I have never felt quite so homicidal.
Finally he paid, grabbed his bags and exited the premises. I purchased my items with no further incident and started walking home. As I headed up the hill, long-awaited groceries in hand, I watched as this guy drove away in his shiny sports car. I should have said something to him, or thrown something, but my rage consumed me. So for this young man, and the people like him that I’m sure I will continue to encounter, here’s a little cheat-sheet for you on grocery check-out etiquette.
#1 Make a list. Figure out what you need. Put it in your cart. Buy it.
#2 If you miss something on the list and you don’t realistically have time to go back and get it without seriously putting the efficiency of the line in jeopardy, come back and get it later.
#3 Ask yourself this question – “If I was the cashier, would I want to punch a customer in the face for this behavior?” If the answer is yes, cease that behavior immediately.
#4 Other people have lives too. We are all on a schedule. We all have places to be. Your time is no more important than anyone else’s. So please, grocery shop accordingly.