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Does ’15 Items or Less’ Apply to Me? Why Some Folks Can’t Read While Those Who Can Often Pretend They Don’t Understand
It was 8:00 AM at my local supermarket. The Manager had the majority of his employees stocking shelves, leaving only the Express Lane open. I bought a loaf of French bread, took my place in line as the 5th customer in the Express Lane. Minutes later, four more customers lined up behind me. The cashier picked up her phone and barked, “Second checker.”
That announcement never fails to stir ambivalence in the hearts of all customers. We are instantly encouraged by the fact that we may be able to complete our purchase before the next shift change. But the real source of our anxiety occurs as we contemplate which check stand will spring to life. When that event occurs, the checker announces, “I can help the next person in line.” After an awkward moment lasting less than a millisecond, the rush is on. The threat of fire couldn’t move customers faster that the opening of a new check stand. Three customers in front of me instantly disappeared. With the new reorganization in place, there were now two customers in front of me. Hope springs eternal.
Then I noticed the elderly lady in front of me had considerably more than 15 items minimum in her basket. Because I was not about to blow the whistle on an old lady, I gritted my teeth and watched as the cashier began processing her order. The order was quickly scanned and totaled. The lady squinted at the monitor, adjusted her glasses, and then asked to see the receipt. At that point, I suspected trouble. She wanted to check the receipt for the ‘˜on sale’ items to make certain the computer had not short changed her. Minutes passed as she glanced back and forth from the receipt to locate the specific items. Finally she pulled out a small change purse and withdrew a thick wad of bills. She carefully counted the bills, then realized her cash was not sufficient to pay for her groceries. She asked the Cashier, “Can I write a check?” Without waiting for the answer, she pulled out her checkbook and began to write.
I exchanged glances with the customer behind me. She had five one half gallons containers of ice cream on the counter. She was getting nervous. I squeezed my bread to test for freshness. The lady took an eternity to write her check. When the Cashier gave the lady her receipt, we assumed she would leave the area after being admonished to ‘˜have a nice day.’ But instead of moving, the lady began to scrutinize her receipt and looking in her bags for matching items. The Cashier remained polite and cooperative. The customer behind me grabbed her five cartons of ice cream and bolted to the other open check stand. By this point I was determined to wait it out, which I did. When the transaction was finally approved by the lady, she left. My bread was scanned. I paid in cash. Total transaction time: less than 2 minutes — tops.
If you see me in a supermarket, I urge you not to stand behind me. I’ve given you an example of what often happens to me. And I haven’t even told you about the time I was behind a man whose electric motor scooter died before her could exit the check stand. They had to call AAA!
“Mind, like a parachute, only functions when open.” Charlie Chan