Checkout lines are my nemesis, and like Professor Moriarty stalking Sherlock Holmes or Wile E. Coyote hunting Roadrunner, I never know in what dastardly way one is going to get me. Usually it’s the short, mild-mannered line that turns out to be my downfall.
I step into place expecting a quick exit only to be thwarted by someone staring off into space as the clerk rings up and bags the items and announces the total. The customer, taken completely unawares, shakes him or herself from their reverie and pulls out a checkbook (checks? Really? It’s 2014 for crying out loud!). S-l-o-w-l-y they write the date (“what day is it again?”), the store (“how do you spell Stop and Shop?”, the amount (“how much did you say it is?”), and finally they sign their name. Then they go through the whole routine again in their register. Fire Ants climbing my legs couldn’t make me any more twitchy than I am watching this performance.
A close second might be customers who thrust into the cashier’s hand a soggy wad of coupons that need to be separated, flattened out, turned around, and scanned and which invariably contain several that don’t compute because they are for multiple items or are expired. Then ensues a negotiation worthy of Congress—that’s right, no go on either side. Or there’s a sluggish amble to the back of the store to pick up the missing items. Either way, time is wasting, people!
And don’t even get me started about waiting on the phone listening to some ear-splitting “music” or a happy voice telling me everything the company can do for me except answer the phone. Why can’t someone devise a way for your phone to access your own playlist to enjoy while you wait? Shark Tank, anyone?
It’s only a couple of minutes, you might say. But a few minutes here and a few minutes there add up to—wait a minute while I dig my phone out of my purse and turn it on and access the calculator…oops that’s the flashlight…and plug in the numbers…darn, hit the wrong button…there that’s right…and get an answer—an eternity. Aaack! And I still have so much to do!
Before I completely go off the rails, though, I’m trying to learn to be more chill. One way I now do this in the checkout lane at Stop & Shop is to turn my attention away from other shoppers and toward the tabloid racks—and you know what I see? Jennifer Aniston. Every. Single. Week. In Every. Single. Magazine. I’m not a huge Jennifer Aniston fan. I never understood the obsession with her hair, and as for Brad? He’s better off. Still, I am not without sympathy. This poor woman has been pregnant for 4 years straight—without ever giving birth. This story puts the old “My Baby Is an Alien” reports to shame. Or maybe….Nahhh. And what about her marriage already? If she and Justin are waiting for that baby to be born, they may as well forget it.
While I cool my heels, I also think about my next story or blog post. Sometimes, my brain contains only a bunch of fragments, which, like young children at recess, beg to get out but defy organization. Now, as the holidays approach, is just such a time. So I’m going to release a few of those snippets that jumped around in my mind like Santa’s reindeer from roof to roof as I idled at Target, Books-A-Million, and Michaels Arts and Crafts this week.
1. In August Taylor Swift released her video for “Shake it Off,” which created a big brouhaha with critics and online commentators. One day while tooling along the road to Target, Jenny and I were discussing the song and the video when an inverted skyscraper of a city bus entered traffic from a side street. As the bus loomed into my lane, I slammed on the brakes, experiencing the kind of terror Captain Ahab must have felt when Moby Dick thrashed his tiny whaleboat. At the last second—our vehicles side-by-side—the bus driver righted her leviathan into its own lane with military precision. I felt a little shaky. Not from the near-miss obliteration but from the knowledge that one of my last words on earth would have been “twerking.”
2. Here is a jacket that Jenny ordered recently. How long do designers think an extra small petite woman’s arms are?
3. Speaking of petite: When will someone make ear buds with a cord short enough so they don’t catch on everything or become infuriatingly tangled the moment you put them down. I swear those things are alive. Shark Tank, anyone?
4. I will leave you now with one more piece of evidence that the Thanksgiving holiday will one day be as extinct as T-rex: Auto correct on my iPhone capitalizes Black Friday but doesn’t recognize Thanksgiving.