MamaBlogger365 – On the Grocery Line by Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller

The Middle Island King Kullen supermarket has recently removed two traditional cashier posts for the installation of two self-help checkouts. I never use them – I have too many groceries – and I rarely see anyone else using them either. I typically shop during the weekday, when most of the other customers consist of elderly women who can’t be bothered learning the new technology either. Anyone who buys a great deal of produce will find these stations a real nuisance, because then you have to find the appropriate codes for all your fruits and vegetables. It seems the checkout stations were installed without first checking for the demand in our area.

The management seems to have made the decision that these stations removed the need for two cashiers – which makes my long-age problem even worse. The problem is that I typically arrive on line with my cart overloaded with groceries – and I use the shelf underneath, as well. There are one express checkout and one or two regular lines. I approach this area with caution – seeing who the cashier is, how many on the line, how many approaching the line, as well as how many goods the approaching customers have.

I avoid the line with the nosy woman cashier – the one who always comments on how much stuff I have; when she last saw me in there; and how my husband was in there for apples, milk, and his favorite cereal again this morning; and why doesn’t he pick up more stuff while he’s in there? There is a very nice woman who is working at the Express checkout. She also has 4 children, and she knows my problem. She sees me coming…

As I approach the line, several elderly women stare at me, taking in the amount of groceries I have. Most of them only have a small hand-held basket with select goods. I make sure none of them are looking for a line before I take my position.

I get behind a man who has a small amount of groceries. He appears to be quite conscientious, from the brown cage-free eggs to the way he quickly turns his head away from the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition and other magazine covers flaunting scantily-suited women. The young man serving us is always very courteous.

Now a few little old women are looking for a line. “She has too much stuff!” one says loudly, but good-naturedly before getting on the express line. Her eyes then move to the bottom of my cart, and they seem to bulge as she realizes I have even more stuff down there.

A little old woman gets behind me. “I guess I have too many things to get on the Express Checkout,” she says with a sigh. I look and take a quick count – maybe she has around 15 items.

“I have 4 kids,” I explain to all the elderly women who are openly staring at me. I am more amused than embarrassed. The man in front of me turns, also amused, but in a polite way.

“Mine are all grown,” the woman behind me says, “but I have 5 little grandchildren now, so sometimes I have to shop for them.”

I see the clock and figure I have an hour before the school bus comes. I make sure nobody else is approaching the line before I make my offer, “I’m not in a hurry, if you want to go ahead of me.”

“No, that’s okay, I’m not in a rush either,” she says.

That’s when my favorite cashier, the one with the 4 kids, comes to my rescue.

“I’ll take the next customer over here,” she invites toward the Express line.

The woman behind me motions for me to go and I say, “No, please, you go,” which she happily does.

Now the pressure is off… only to build again.

It’s my turn to load my groceries onto the belt. I start with the heaviest things first, from the bottom of my cart, and I am almost breathless as I try to do this as fast as possible. I see the line building behind me.

Then the medium-weight stuff… oh dear, they are all staring at me. I wonder if I will remember the PIN number for my husband’s debit card.

Finally, the bananas, eggs, and bread. Oh gosh, this has never happened before. I hope I will remember it when I get to the PIN-entry pad.

All my stuff is loaded onto the cart now, and I run to the end to bag as quickly as possible. The cashier tells me the amount due, I swipe my card, and… draw a blank. I have the house alarm PIN number stuck in my head, and put in a derivation of that.

“I’m sorry,” I apologize to everybody.

I get my husband on the phone… thank God he picked up! “What‘s your PIN number?” I ask.

He tells me. Later, he would say from the tone of my voice he had thought someone had died.

It’s in… I’m done. More stares as I walk out of the door, bags precariously balanced on top of one another. I manage to get to my car without dropping anything.

I open the trunk… oh goodness, the girls left their softball gear in their again!

An elderly man passes my car as I am loading up the trunk.

“Now you get to put it all away,” he says with a smile.

Bio: Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller is a regular contributor to Mamazina Magazine. She blogs at The Divine Gift of Motherhood.

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