I know this specifically because of a cashier at King Soopers, the grocery store where I regularly shop.
This past Sunday morning on my way home from church I stopped to pick up a few items. Since my son Jack had seen sick and eating a lot of soup, I picked up four cans of chicken noodle on impulse.
I didn’t know until later that I had 22 items in my basket.
How I came to discover this was when I checked out in the 15 items or less line. To be clear: there was nobody behind me. There was another 15 items or less line next to me. It was not a busy day.
And, like I said, I didn’t know I’d exceeded my limit.
As I was checking out, the cashier said quite loudly, “The number-of-items police aren’t on duty today.”
He didn’t appear to be talking to me. It was more of an aside meant for me to hear.
An older lady in the other express line heard him and responded, “I was SENT to this line by another cashier!”
If he was casting dispersions on her integrity she wasn’t having it.
He responded, “Yeah, but they don’t know how LIMITED THE SPACE is in our lanes.”
I hadn’t ever closely examined the check out lane before. Now I was studying it. I couldn’t really tell that the space was smaller, but I wasn’t going to argue.
At this point I’m starting to think just maybe the cashier is trying to lay a guilt trip on me. My suspicion was confirmed when he handed me the register tape and said, “Here’s your REALLY LONG RECEIPT.”
Normally I say “Thank you” but thought in this case “Kiss my butt” would have been more appropriate. I did not, for the record, say that. I just thought it. After all, I had just come from church.
As I left the store I started worrying that I had egregiously violated check out etiquette. I must have had a hundred items to get so much berating!
I did a quick count and realized I had 22 items (those pesky soup cans were 2/3 of my over-the-limit problem).
We’ve all been in express lines where someone really took advantage of the system. On Sunday, I wasn’t one of those people. I was technically in default, but I didn’t inconvenience anyone (except the cashier) and didn’t intentionally break the rules. What I must have done is interrupted the cashier’s daydreams of celebrity and fortune when I entered his lane.
There are several good grocery stores in my neighborhood. The King Soopers I shop at is closest but certainly not the only option for my future business.
Why would a retail employee berate—directly or indirectly—a customer who is trying to give them their money?
It makes no sense to me.
But I was reminded that I am a bad man. The kind of guy who tries to sneak 22 items through the 15-item line.
And I learned two lessons:
First, I’ll make darn sure I count my items before I get in another express line.
And second, I’ll consider counting my items in a different grocery store next time I shop.
Now where did I put my REALLY LONG receipt?