Originally Posted: 2005-04-11 11:40am
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Dear Sir/Madam in the 10-Item Check-out Line
I see that you have morphed from a throbbing-veined heart-attack-in-waiting into a semi-literate person willing to post your wrath on Craigslist. Congratulations. That might be Step #2 on the road to recovery. I understand that it is frustrating to deal with any combination of the following: an old lady with multiple, perhaps expired coupons; a person who cannot count and brings at least 20 items into the line, including a feminine hygiene product that needs a price-check; or the tired and frazzled cashier that is moving, robot-like, through the 14-hour shift that allows her to feed and dress her 7 children thanks to the patronage of suited and loafered assholes like yourself. You're standing there so irate, so convinced everyone is just an inconsiderate moron, yet you're the same person driving solo in the carpool lane then cutting over the other 3 just in time to exit at a brake-squealing rate, so you get to work on time to make the money that empowers you to fume at others in a grocery store. I.E., who are you to judge?
Here is a tip for your future health: stop stressing out about it. You're standing there, clutching an organic frozen dinner, tampons/condoms, a 6-pack of microbrew and a small bag of gourmet cat food that cost more than my whole week's grocery budget, and I can almost guarantee that you're either going to pay with a flashy credit card or a wad of cash that you have to fumble through under the counter so nobody can see how much you've got. I bet you have 2 wads of cash, one to pull out when punks like me are watching, and one to pull out in the safety of your own high-rise office building. If you continue stressing out about what is, in essence, 4 minutes and 37 seconds of your life, you'll probably have to start taking a prescription drug that will soon be pulled off the shelves because, although it will lower your blood pressure, it will also make your liver shrivel up and start producing peonies. Better to take deep breaths and remember with a fond smile how you put that doorman/valet/janitor in his place today. Someone might take that smile as mysterious and amused, ask for your phone number, and someday give you head. Mysterious and amused is much better than intolerant jerk, in my book.
But, while your fingers turn white and you stare with death-laser eyes at the overflowing purse of the woman in front of you, I have to stand behind you holding my one item, which is generally a carton of eggs because they're on sale and I can feast for days! If it is so important to you that other customers respect your place in line, why is it that you don't even considering letting me & my eggs (or some poor white-haired old man with 4 cans of cat food and an obvious fake leg and look of pain) step ahead of you to conduct our transactions? That way you can complain loudly on your cell phone about the rudeness of strangers while remaining lazily self-complacent about your own status as an actual human being. And I can share an ironic smile with the cashier and be on my way.
I have a multi-faceted plan that may help you conquer your extreme distaste for those who don't follow the rules, don't move fast enough for you, or attempt to save 50 cents on an expired coupon because her Parkinson's medications cost $400 this month.
1. Realize that there are a lot of people in this world who forget that they need to take your feelings and schedule into consideration at all times. Strangely, they are trying to do exactly what you are: get home as quickly as possible so they can huddle in a ball and contemplate the meaninglessness of life and mourn the loss of their souls to a job, a bad relationship, etc. I think the word we need to learn here is "compassion".
2. Don't go to the store to grab 2-10 things right after work in a large city during rush hour. It only takes a few extra minutes during your (or your maid's) weekly grocery excursion to remember that you might want to grab an extra can of Campbell's Chunky Beef Stew to tide you over. If you DO need a bottle or two of beer, or wine, and some overly optimistic condoms, please utilize your local convenience store. It may be more expensive, but at least then you expect a surly, non-English speaking clerk. And are often pleasantly surprised when said clerk remembers you, speaks politely and gives you the condoms free with a wink. This is called "planning ahead", and "planning alternatives". It is also called "staying the hell away from others who are capable of polite and friendly social interactions".
3. If you must go to the store and ruin my day, the cashier's day, and the day of the poor slob in front of you with your intense and scary mean-person vibes, try perusing the candy rack, tabloids and Yearly Horoscope books placed at the check-out line for exactly this purpose. My theory is that "impulse-buying" is only a secondary function for these items, placed there primarily to soothe customers like yourself with their cheery and ridiculous articles, brightly colored logos and easily perusable headlines. This is called "distraction", and it's a social tool used by people with even more power and money than you, so that you don't go ballistic and possibly murder one of their customers.
4. Remember that as annoyed as we all might be with the situation ourselves, none of us- and especially NOT the cashier- are your allies in this war against the inconsiderate person shuffling off. We do NOT want to make eye contact, roll our eyes mutually, or engage in snide and disparaging commentary. I feel especially bad for the cashier, who is most likely wearing orthopedic shoes and support hose, or had to take a line of meth in the bathroom, just so she could make it through another day of smiling and nodding and swiping your crap over that little metal plate that makes that little beeping noise that's probably driving her insane.
In conclusion...well, I don't know if there is a conclusion. You're not the only who is tired, sore, cranky, wondering what that rash really is, and just wanting to get home to the darkness of your own lair. You're not special. Yeah, it's annoying. Yeah, it wastes all our time. But in the scheme of things I don't see how it can ever be a big enough deal to worry about this much. You should really more consider the fact that the unwashed, egg-carrying kid behind you saw your wad and is wondering if it'll pay the rent.