Law of the Universe: Grocery express lane induces heart failure

It is a Law of the Universe that when you are in a hurry, some pokey person will slow you down.

Most recently, it was a woman in front of me at the express lane at the grocery store checkout, the lane that is marked by a THREE FOOT SIGN that reads, “15 Items or Less.”

The sign, I would like to note, is not marked, “15 Items, Unless You’re A Rebel With a Full Cart and a Death Wish.”

I counted. Because that’s the crazy kind of supermarket stalker, always-looking-for-a-column weirdo that I am. I counted her items. Thirty-eight! More than twice the allowable limit! What the heck? There is NO common courtesy anymore, I tell you.

Honest to Pete, she said to the checker, “I just love the express lane! It always moves so quickly!” My eye started twitching. I had to forcibly remove my grip on my refrigerated pie crust.

The line goes fast because most people adhere to the rules, lady! Surely you understand that? I fumed in line behind her, with my four little items, while she sl-o-o-o-o-o-wly unloaded her cart. While she did so, she had to examine each item. I could see the wheels turning, as if she was internally arguing with herself on the necessity of each item.

Of course, the slowest checker had to be stationed at the express lane. This, too, must be a Law of the Universe.

This one guy is a chatterer. He likes to look at people’s groceries and make comments. I think he thinks it’s customer service, and it would be, if he were anywhere else except the !@#$%^&* express lane.

“Oh!” he exclaimed. “I love this Parmesan couscous!”

“I know!” the lady gushed. “Isn’t it fabulous?”

“No!” I internalized. “I’m late! I’m late! Shut up about the couscous!”

As he rang up lamb chops and some frozen fish, the checker said, “So what are you having for dinner tonight?”

“I don’t know,” the woman said, and actually stopped to think. She seriously put down her wallet, cocked her head, and took the time to think in the express lane.

“The lamb would be great with the couscous,” the checker said helpfully, and then dropped a can of black beans, after which ensued a lengthy discussion about dented cans and discounts.

At this point, I could actually feel my heart beating in my throat, could feel my blood pressure rise, second by second. I put my hand to my neck, and felt the blood coursing — nay, pulsing — through my veins.

If I don’t calm down in grocery store express lanes, I will die by the time I’m 35.

When he managed to finally, finally, finally ring up all of the woman’s groceries, he totaled up her bill. “That’ll be $82.65,” he said cheerfully.

Let it be known: No one spends $82 in the express lane.

At this point, the woman dug around in her purse, pulled out a checkbook and began writing a check.

Oh my holy savior. I think by this time I was actually panting, short of breath. Who the heck still uses checks? Who the heck still writes the full date out, spelling out the month (no abbreviating) and including the “th” after the day and all four numerals of the year? Who the heck takes that long to write a ridiculous check?

I pushed up to the register and handed the checker my loyalty card while the woman still chattered on. I gently, politely herded her out of line. The checker gave me a withering look, and immediately began talking to the woman behind me. Well, flirting with her.

He flirted with her on MY express lane time!

I literally had to remind myself to take deep breaths. I thought people only did that in books, but nope. Apparently, they do it in express lanes, too.

Twenty-seven minutes. I was in that store for 27 minutes. It took 27 minutes to buy four items! Just rereading that sentence made my blood pressure spike.

Kami Collins lives in Delta with her daughter and her infinitely patient husband. Everyday life is hilarious, Kami just puts it into print. She can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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