Sunday, March 09, 2008

10 Items or Less

There I was, stranded at the back of the line at the Prairieville Wal-Mart, with hundreds of dollars worth of groceries in tow and a tired and very pregnant wife wanting very badly to go home and lay down. Some of my groceries originally came from the Frozen Foods aisle, but due to our long wait, these had started to thaw and could now just be classified as "Foods."

I was in the line that I assumed to be the shortest, due to it having the least amount of people. In actuality it was the longest line because it had the most number of items to scan as well as the most number of price checks to be obtained, plus the cashier was new and one person was paying with a check. It takes a luckier man to pick the right line at the grocery store than it does to win the lottery.

I looked to my right to where ten tired and underpaid cashiers were scanning groceries through their scanners like inefficient robots in need of a good oiling. I glanced over to my near left to see a cashier holding up a plastic sac holding an unknown vegetable and calling for a price check. Sweat started streaming down my face as my wife started to tell me how tired she was.

Off to my far left, a sign flickered briefly. I looked up and read it, and it took a minute for the words to sink in. Yes... a new hope.

I had been in line for thirty minutes but I decided that I had waited long enough. I turned my buggy to the left and started pushing my hundreds of dollars worth of groceries across the floor, to my wife's screams of "What are you doing?! We'll lose our place! Noooooo!"

And pulled up to an empty lane with a flickering light that read "10 Items or Less."

My only hope was for the cashier to not be a newbie Wal-Mart employee. Newbs sometimes look at you or ask you how you're doing, or use other methods to achieve some acceptable level of customer service, and right now the last thing I needed was for any Wal-Mart employees to notice me. Thankfully, the cashier must have been working for Wal-Mart for a long time, because she ignored me until it was way too late.

"What do you think you're doing? Nuh-uh, you get all that stuff off of this aisle!" she yelled, while I continuously stacked item after item onto the conveyor belt.

I ignored her further admonitions as I neatly stacked two boxes of Cafe Francais on top of a pack of once-frozen waffles.

"You can't do that!" a woman from behind me yelled. I turned to her and she must have seen how crazy I was at that moment, because she took a few steps back and turned her head.

"This is the '10 Items or Less' lane. You gotsta get all this stuff off of here 'cause I can't help you, otherwise I gotta call my manager."

My hand halted in the air, suspending a jar of organic peanut butter a foot above the conveyor belt. I look at the cashier and said, "I've got $200 worth of merchandise here, and if you don't start scanning it right this minute, I'm leaving it all on this conveyor belt and you can put it back yourself. The quickest way to get rid of me is just to start scanning as fast as you can."

She scanned every item, glaring at me as she threw each item into a plastic bag, then roughly handed me my bags as each filled up. I just looked her and told her, "If you think glaring at me and being angry at me is going to make any difference at all in my life, you've got another thing coming. I'm married; I'm use to being wrong all the time."

Let the rule-followers die of old age while waiting in line at Wal-Mart. I'm using the "10 Items or Less" line every time I go in now.

No comments: