In life, we each have a special place that soothes us to the core as soon as we step foot inside. For a child, it might be Granny's house and for a reader, the library.
My special place is the grocery store. To be exact, it's the Price Chopper around the corner from work. Those magical doors part as I approach, welcoming me inside like a beloved friend, the florescent lights beaming down on me like rays of heavenly light sent from the Lord himself as I get a cart and begin my journey.
I stopped in tonight after work to pick up a few necessities (milk, bread, eggs, butter) along with a few things that just sounded good (salsa, black beans, rotisserie chicken) and as always, found myself at ease.
Pushing my cart through the store, I found myself soaking up the happiness with each new aisle. I smiled at a little girl, hugging a bag of marshmallows to her chest like it was her favorite teddy bear. I had to hide my smile when I turned onto the freezer section and heard a 50ish nurse belting out Boston's "More Than A Feeling" like she was driving down the highway with her windows rolled down. I walked slowly behind an elderly couple as they lightheartedly bickered over which kind of orange juice they should buy. (They went with the pulp-free FYI.)
I was in no hurry, and yet, I went to the self-check line because I was too impatient to wait for my turn in the regular line. As calming and lovely as my Price Chopper is, it's like any other store one might go to, and there are rarely more than 3 cashiers manning the registers after work. When I have too many items to hit the express lane, I use the self-check...and that's when the irritation sets in...
Tonight, like every other time I've ever dug through my purse in search of my keyring discount card, I couldn't find it. "Jennifer, get your ass out of the way!" came a voice as I stood there, elbow deep in my ginormous handbag, desperately searching for that stupid keyring. Glancing up momentarily, I saw two friends begin to ring their groceries up at the self check across from mine. "I can't find my God damn Chopper Shopper card..." and went back to looking.
A few moments later, I scanned my card and started ringing up my food only to remember that I freaking suck at scanning and bagging my own groceries.
It was a typical trip through the self-check line:
- Scan an item
- Attempt to bag
- Sensor doesn't recognize that the item is in the bag
- Cuss the robot voice asking me if I want to skip bagging the item
- Remove from bag
- Remove bag from bagging area
- Cuss the robot voice asking me if I removed a bag from the bagging area
- Place bag back into bagging area
- Wait for the sensor light to turn green
- Cuss the robot voice asking me if I brought my own bag
- Remove bag again and place it in my cart
- Repeat the entire process with the rest of my food
My friends were long gone by the time I hit the half way point in ringing up my food. If I didn't know better, I'd assume they overheard my expletives and it scared them off. In reality, they're used to my outbursts and probably found my bitching funny.
Sometime between muttering "...mother fucking Capri Sun" and swiping my debit card, a sweet old lady wandered up behind me and gently put a hand on my shoulder. "Oh honey... it looks like you're having a moment of frustration..."
You don't say, Grams? What was your first clue - the foul language, or the slinging of tortilla packages?
All I could do was close my eyes and nod in defeated silence as this kind old gal schooled me in patience. "All you have to do is wait for that little light to turn green, sweetie! Then you're good to go, but if you don't wait, that grouchy computer voice will scold you!"
As she walked away with a reassuring pat on the back, I took a deep cleansing breath. Focus, Jen, focus. You aren't going to be bested by a machine are you? Absolutely not! And walk out of the PC grouchy? Hell no!
I rang up my items like a professional - calm, cool, and collected - pretended not to wince at my total, and left the store smiling just as I had when I came in, and when I got to the car? I might've even laughed at myself for having a hissy fit in my happy place.