Saturday, February 6, 2010

What more do you want from me?

Here's what happened at the grocery store last week.  I loaded up a cart FULL of items I needed for a party we were throwing at Curves where over 100 guests were expected. Mainly my list consisted of large, heavy ingredients such as about 10 jugs each of cranberry juice, ginger ale, and lemon-lime soda.  It was one of those annoying shopping trips where I didn't manage to find everything the first time through the aisles and so ended up zigging and zagging back through the store a couple of times pushing an overburdened and unwieldy cart before ultimately completing my mission.  For the sake of convenience, I threw a handful of items needed for my own kitchen into the cart as well.  Three-year-old Madelyn was being relatively tolerant and well-behaved considering the circumstances.

When I had finally collected everything on the list, I surveyed the checkout lines. They were all similar--about 3 people in each with relatively equal conveyor belt loads. So I just picked the closest one, and when space became available, began hoisting my goods onto the black rubber belt.  Madelyn loves to help with that part.

My cart was more than halfway unloaded when the old lady behind me piped up.

"Isn't this the EXPRESS LANE?"

My heart dropped into my stomach as I looked up to see that little lighted square sign indicating that her words echoing in my head were indeed accurate.

I was mortified. And remorseful. Which should have been made apparent by my subsequent actions, in which I first apologized genuinely and profusely.  Old lady's response to this was, "they may as well just take down the sign."  I then explained my blunder to the cashier (who was still ringing up the groceries of the customer in front of me) and asked if I should move.  When she assured me it was fine and she would take care of me, I still hesitated to finish unloading my cart, and offered--no, implored--the cranky lady to go ahead and check out before me, since she only had a handful of items and my transaction was going to be lengthy. For some inexplicable reason she refused and repeated her indignant opinion that they should remove the Express Lane sign, as it was clearly doing her no good AT ALL.

By this time there were a couple of other people behind her in the un-express lane, so it was with nearly tangible penitence that I laid down the black plastic order separator and added my "personal" groceries to the conveyor belt to be purchased separately from the business-related groceries.  Now not only had I committed a cardinal sin of grocery check-out etiquette, but added insult to injury by having to make two distinct transactions.  Hey, I had warned Ms. Cranky and tried to insist she go first. And by the way, my second purchase totally fit the criteria of the Express Lane, so there.

In spite of that fact, I completed my two misguided purchases feeling as though eyes were boring into the back of my head.  Even the cashier, who had told me it wouldn't be a big deal, didn't offer any consolation. And my lovely daughter, who continued to be patient throughout this process, seemed to give everyone more of a reason to despise me--that mom who brings her annoying little brat to the store and gets in everyone's way making a mess and being too loud--rather than eliciting the usual pleasant, entertained responses.

I apologized in words. I apologized with my facial expressions. I all but pleaded with the old lady to check out ahead of me.  What else could I or should I have done?


Jennifer said...

Oh that is the worst! I did that once, though I don't think with quite as many bulky groceries as you described. The lady behind you was quite rude, especially since you offered to let her go ahead. Sigh.

Bridget said...

Sad. I hate it when that happens.

guentherfamilynews said...

If you offered to let her go first and she refused she should thank you, she was obviously looking for a reason to be mad. I am sure she will tell the story over and over again, how you had millions of little candy bars and pencils, your cart filled to the top. how you took at least 30 minutes, in the EXPRESS lane! And her with only one item, thats why she was late, you really she can't be fired!
;) See you gave her the excuse she needed to whine and complain for weeks. So good job! And if it really was a BIG deal, someone would have stopped you sooner.
Don't worry, you won't be remembered for it, thats not what your tombstone will say. You are an amazing person who picked the wrong line... your still amazing!

鼕鼕家 said...



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