14 November 2008

Get out of my line.

I don’t really believe in curses. I think maybe I’m cursed, though. Otherwise there’s no explanation for why I always pick the worst line at the supermarket. If I’m not cursed, that would mean that about 95% of the population is completely stupid. So it must be that I’m cursed. The title of this column is not a threat, but merely advice.

You’re probably thinking that this happens to you all the time, too. And maybe it does. But we’re talking about me here, so shut your trap. Trap? That’s a socially acceptable substitute for mouth, right? My friend Randy calls it a “man-pleaser.” That’s not quite as politically correct, but it sure is descriptive. I won’t insult you by telling you to shut your man-pleaser, though. That would be rude.

I used to love the grocery store. I walked up and down every aisle, tossing things into the basket at my leisure. I always came out with about a hundred times as much stuff as I needed. I stood in line for an hour, behind all the other people who had a hundred times as much stuff as they needed (or maybe they all had a dozen children). I read tabloid magazines to keep myself entertained. After I paid, I would carry my 37 bags of groceries to my car, then up to my apartment, where I would throw away the 37 bags of groceries I didn’t use last time I went to the store. All in all, a lovely, soothing experience.

My roommate back in those days would always go to the store with the plan to force herself to eat healthy. So she bought all this food she had no intention of eating. Only she wouldn’t go shopping again until it was all gone. She would look at me with sad eyes and covet my yummy food. Then we would go out for dinner.

I honestly can’t figure out how I had so much money to waste on groceries back then. Now I have none. It must be the drinking. Damn drinking is so expensive. I should quit.

Yeah, I couldn’t even type that with a straight face.

Now when I go grocery shopping, I want to murder every third person in the store. It’s such a stressful experience. I don’t really keep food in my apartment any more. I’m never there, so it seems silly to buy a bunch of food and then not eat it. Oh wait. I used to do that all the time. Well, now it seems silly. These days when I go to the store, I’m just going to get stuff for one or two meals. Usually, I need to be in and out of there in about five minutes. It goes like this:

Cuss and honk at the guy who blatantly stole my parking space. Who cares if he’s 95 years old? He should have his grandkids shop for him, right?

Run inside and search desperately for the little hold-it-like-a-purse shopping basket. They’re nowhere to be found. Where do they hide those things? Fine. I can carry everything I need. I don’t need no stinkin’ basket. Ha!

Notice I left my don’t-use-so-much-plastic shopping bag in the car/at my apartment/at Harx’s apartment/in the trash can because I don’t care about the environment. Oh well.

Realize I parked on the wrong side of Super Target and the groceries are on the other side of a sea of ornery children, old people, counting mothers (“Danny, put that down. One, two, two and a quarter…I’m only giving you until three young man! Put it down! Two and a half…”), and Target employees who want me to sign up for a Target credit Card. No thank you. Just out of curiosity, are there actually children who are afraid of counting? I'm pretty sure what you just told them is "It's okay to continue to do the thing I've told you not to do until I count to three, but then you have to stop." Keep up the good work!

Maim as few screaming children/old people as possible, while racing across the store to the produce department.

Begin packing food items in my arms, pockets, shoes, and bra. Really anywhere I can put them. It’s not stealing. If they would put the damn baskets back where they’re supposed to be, I wouldn’t have to stuff my bra with mushrooms and mozzarella.

Drop several items, including something explosive because I can’t actually carry everything I need.

Find a Target employee to clean up the yogurt I spilled in aisle 14.

Walk at a snail’s pace back to the front of the store to get in line. If I drop anything else, they might kick me out. Since I haven’t been tackled on suspicion of shoplifting, I’m considering the trip a success.

This is where it gets tricky. Picking a line. I’m cursed, I tell you. Once, I (selflessly) let a man cut in front of me when I had a bunch of groceries. He was buying roses for his girlfriend. How bad could it be? He only had one item. A half hour later, he was still trying to convince the cashier that he was so awesome that he should be allowed to write an out-of-state temporary check, even though he had no identification. I’m not making this up.

If I pick the shortest line, it’s always the one with the woman who has a hundred coupons and has actually documented the price of everything she put in her cart, which she will review with the cashier as the items are scanned. “No, that can of soup was 29 cents. I don’t care what your scanner says. Call the manager. I am not paying 30 cents for a 29 cent can of soup.” Or the woman who has a spending limit and has gone over it and now has to debate which items to take out of her cart. “Hmmm…how much was that lettuce again? If I take that off, what’s my total? Okay, let’s keep the lettuce. What about these eggs?” This fills me with murderous rage. And I’m generally a happy person.

If I pick the longest line – okay, who picks the longest line? Do I look stupid to you? I never pick the longest line.

If I go to the express lane, usually I end up behind the person who has picked up the one thing in the store without a UPC. Or the person who forgot to get mayonnaise and now has to have a three-year-old “run back and get it.” Yeah, that’s going to go well. I don’t have any kids (for good reason), but even I know they aren’t terribly bright. Your average toddler isn’t likely to remember that you want Hellman’s Light Mayonnaise with the yellow lid. The big jar. And none of that salad dressing crap, child.

Sometimes the lines are all about the same length. This is vaguely reminiscent of playing Russian roulette; not as dangerous, but pretty damn chancy. Whichever line I pick will be the worst one. Which is why I don’t play Russian roulette. I’d be dead. These are the occasions when the person in front of me is completely capable. The cashier, however, is a complete moron. I have actually witnessed a conversation in which the cashier at the grocery store asked the man in line in front of me what asparagus is. She thought it was for cleaning. She worked at Tom Thumb and looked at the man like he had two heads when he offered her his Tom Thumb Reward Card to scan. She apparently missed that day of training.

Or the cashier is new. And somehow didn’t learn how to press buttons when he was a toddler like the rest of us. Whoever is training him has to tell him which buttons to push. “Okay, she gave you $5.05 so you need to push ‘Cash’…no ‘CASH.’ The green one. The one with ‘CASH’ on it. Yeah, that one. Now, push ‘5’ then ‘.’ then ‘0’ and ‘5.’ Good jo –- WAIT! You have to put the money in the drawer before you close it. Don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it.” And this only happens when the trainer is actually smarter than gum she’s chewing.

Once I was returning something at Target and the girl working at the returns desk was talking on her cell phone (instead of helping me, the only person in line) complaining to the person on the other end about the way customers always talk on their cell phones and they never pay any attention to her when they’re returning stuff. It’s so rude. Really. She didn’t seem to see the irony in the situation.

On rare occasions, I’m the only person in line. Home free, right? Nope. This is when the cashier decides she needs pennies. She cannot ring me up because she has no pennies. Even after I sweetly, but with a psychopathic look in my eye, point out that I’m paying with my credit card and could not possibly need pennies in this transaction, she proceeds to push the “I need change” button on the cash register. If she doesn’t need change, this will be the exact moment she has run out of register tape. Of course she has no register tape, and so must go searching all the other cashiers for some. Once she finds it, she realizes she has no idea how to put it in the cash register. I’ve found that chanting “Murder is illegal” quietly to myself helps keep the psycho to a minimum (and by minimum, I mean internal).

After I’ve navigated the store successfully, without actually killing anyone, I have to brave the parking lot. It’s so difficult to keep my middle finger in check while the woman who can’t park her Suburban tries to park her Suburban. It’s so hard to stay in my car with my foot firmly on the brake while the kid pitches a screaming fit right behind my car. Though it is somehow satisfying when he repeatedly punches and kicks his mother while she tries to calm him down. But I’m a nice person. So I sit patiently (read: seething on the inside and probably cursing loudly) inside my car until I can pull out of my space and head to my apartment.

So the moral of the story here is this: I’m cursed, but I don’t believe in curses. They’ve turned me into a walking contradiction. Can I sue for that? Is there a pill I can take? It must be one of the two, as these are how we solve all our other problems in this country.


Killer B said...

Three letters for you: ATM, and I'm talking about the bank card, not the other thing. ;)

I don't get the whole cheque or cash obsession in America. Yeah, we're dummer because we no longer have to count money (or were we dumb from the get-go?), but look at all the time we save!!! Entire seconds, I tell you! SECONDS!!! :D

PS - Saw your Pi comment...See my response... ;)

meshealle said...

I don't use cash (at the grocery store)! I don't use checks...I don't even have any checks.

I'm fast through the line, but that doesn't get people out of my way. It's all very sad.

Killer B said...

Meant to tell you this before: Tell Randy he's a GENIUS!!!