Wednesday, February 2, 2011

16 Items Or Less: My Lesson in Humility

Ok.... hopefully today's post will make sense to you all because you are going to have to put on your Marty McFly puffy vest and join me as I go back in time and then back to the future.

Today I learned another lesson - I need to be less judgy. 

Now, I don't think many people think of me as judgy, but I must confess that from time to time I catch myself.  Hey, what can I say... I'm human.

Anyway, the universe has a funny way to it and the universe presented me with a valuable "teachable moment" today.  Come with me to a few months ago when I was trying to come up with ideas for blog posts that people would enjoy.  The following is a draft post that I never finished/published, but was JUST thinking yesterday about polishing it up and posting it:

16 Items Or Less
Grocery shopping is like a getaway for me.  Ever since I became responsible for my own groceries, that little thrill of knowing that I could buy anything I want without having to ask my mom has never worn off.  I am the one wandering the aisles smiling at the shelves, daydreaming of meals-to-be, happy as can be.

So.... when somebody messes with my feel-good-vibe at the store, I get mad (except no one would ever know... I'm a seether, not a fighter).  Today, I ran in to grab a few things, and headed for the grocery store's answer to the VIP lounge - the express checkout.  I was feeling Very Important, indeed, until this woman strolls right up to the checkout in front of me with at least 20 items!  I could feel myself hulking out.

I just quietly waited... and fumed... and tried to give this lady my very best stinkeye face ever.  If only I could catch her glance, she'd surely be shamed into leaving the line with her tail between her legs!  But no, she and her gaggle of items remained at the checkout, with the stench of entitlement heavy in the air.  I quietly seethed and judged her groceries.  Oh, you know you do it too.  Admit it!  She had bought chips... AND chip dip... AND bacon!  At least my groceries were superior to hers... I clung to that smug thought as she took the air out of my happy bubble.

The cashier happily rang up her items and sent her on her way and then turned to me with a smile... and I smiled back, quietly paid for my 4 items, and headed home.  I let my seething slowly dissipate.  At least I don't hold a grudge too long though...  I'll still look forward to my next tour of the aisles.

All this seething got me wondering, though:  Shouldn't cashiers politely direct people like this lady to a different check out?  My vote has to go with 'yes'!  I understand that there are sometimes lulls at the store where no one is checking out, and the express cashier can ring up your 20 items just as a nice favour... because no one is in line behind you!  I see people getting into the express lane all the time with waaayyy more items than they are supposed to have, and I have never seen a cashier redirect a single person.  Why is that?  I can't be the only one who gets all riled up about this... or maybe I am!  Eek!

Ok... back we go to present day - Tuesday February 1st.  I am at the grocery store, happy as a clam, waiting in line at the checkout while feigning modesty and humbleness as the nice man behind me in line goes on and on and ON about how cute Knolan is (I totally think he's the cutest, but I figure it's not very flattering to also go on and on and ON about how cute he is).  I am in my happy place and feeling great about life when...

"Maam, just so you know, this line is for 16 items or less"

Isn't there a word or phrase for this exact kind of scenario?  Wait... I think it's "poetic justice".  Why did I keep thinking of "schadenfreude"?

Anyway, my face must have turned 16 shades of purple - one for each of the items that were allowed in this line!  I had NO idea I was in the express lane.  Then I turned and looked at the line up behind me... I wish so badly that I had a picture of this to share with you, but there were at least 5 people standing there, each of them holding no more than 3 items - no one had even so much as a basket! - standing there giving me the ol' stinkeye.  The only one not trying to kill me with laser vision was the nice man who was still baby talking to my son.  Thank goodness for him - he was the buffer between me and the angry mob.  :-)

I immediately started to pack up my many, many, many items to move to another checkout, but the cashier insisted it was fine to ring me through... that she just wanted me to know for the next time.  I must have apologized at least 4 times... and you've never seen anyone high-tail it out of a grocery store so fast in your life! 

So, there you have it.  My lesson in humility.  You just never know whether the person with the cart full of groceries in front of you is a self-entitled jerk or just a daydreamer.  Either way, this lesson in humility is sure to prevent me from making any further snap judgements for at least a good 3 days.   :-)

Happy Groundhog Day!


  1. Oh Kirsten, you're so relatable! This happened to me too, the daydreaming thing. Now I usually find it's safer to just checkout my own groceries. You should try that. I'll bet that would be more fodder for your blog!

  2. I just soooo know what you are talking about...thanks for letting me know I'm not the only one....Love

  3. Just don't get me started about the skinny smoking woman who parks her big-ass truck in the Expectant Mothers parking spot at Costco...

  4. Kirsten, reading this blog is like spending time with you, which I thoroughly miss :(. I would never ever had thought of you as 'judgy', but I can definitely relate to this post!