I had to bite the bullet and go to the grocery store today. Somewhere in my book of parenting rules, it says I should feed my family. Honestly, I hate the trip to the supermarket and today it appealed even less than usual because I have some quirky injury to my right leg. I wasn't actually sure I could manage to shop, even with the help of the shopping trolley to hold onto, but my sister was going and I had to take the ride when I could get it as driving is out of the question until my leg heals.
Right down the street from me is a store that has a huge selection, a bakery with the most delectable cakes, pastries and fresh-from-the-oven bread, and also boasts the lowest prices in town. It has too much of one thing, though. Customers. I swear everyone within a ten-mile radius shops at this store.
The parking lot is jam- packed a full 20 minutes before they open each day and each night there are customers still rolling their shopping carts down aisles for just a few more items as the voice on the loudspeaker urges them to cash out as it's closing time.
I could only get a few items, I couldn't walk or stand up long enough to get too many. I forgot to get some bottled water and made the selfish decision to forego walking back three aisles for it. "Let them drink tap water", I grumbled. I ended up with some absolutely necessary items (chips and soda) and a few meals worth of food. Not too many items but more than the 12-item limit at the express line. Did I mention that I am so stupidly honest that I wouldn't ever think of getting into the express line with more than 12 items?
The rule goes like this: "If you pick the shortest line, you will wait the longest to be served". This rule holds true in every store and fast food restaurant in the world and the wait time is doubled at any customer service counter.
The guy in line ahead of me glanced at me sideways once or twice. I could see him weighing his options as he noticed that I was devolving into a creature that could no longer stand erect. In fact, I was losing height by the minute as my legs gave way little by little. I didn't have very many items, but then neither did he - in fact, he could have slipped through the express check-out unnoticed. But he chose to stand his place, after all, he was next. Ha! we soon saw how little good that did him.
The woman who was currently being checked out had an amazing array of groceries and although the cashier at this line wasn't going to win any prizes for speed, the tallying of the bill was not going too slowly. That's when I saw them.
The woman had a fistful of 'em. The cashier sorted through and tried to scan them. The very first one she tried refused to be counted no matter how many attempts she made or what mysterious codes she entered into the register. Finally, in desperation she called over a supervisor who unlocked the baffled register with a key and entered the secret code that means "I am a manager, reset yourself". During this time, the woman had pulled out checkbook and pen, written everything on the check but the total, applied her lipstick and combed her hair. I was turning into a sideshow freak and she was fixing her makeup! The poor cashier had to call the supervisor over three more times to assert authority over the cash register and override the fact that one of the coupons wasn't for anything this women had purchased. By this time, even the store just wanted her gone and to accomplish it, they gave her 35 cents off.
When I finally got to the register, with my unglamorous and full-price cartload, I was completely unable to return the weak smile of the harried girl running the register. She mumbled something at me in a quiet and meek voice. "What?" I nearly shouted, in a slightly too startled voice, as if I had been awoken from an engrossing dream. "How are you today?" she asked in the store-prescribed manner.
I am ashamed to say, I told her exactly how I was.