Everyone has things in life that kind of bug them. Then there are the things that really annoy them. Then there are things that make them have to close their eyes, fake smile, go to that happy place and wait for time to cover over the war zone happening in their mind. For me, that place is in the grocery store line. All of the interesting tabloid stories, scents of Juicy Fruit and and elevator music cannot soothe the time urgent beast in me at that time.
Heading to that inevitable torture chamber with my cart full and overflowing is always a gamble. A stressful, life altering gamble. Which line do I pick? That question could change your life forever. It seems 9 times out of 10, I pick the wrong one and end up cracking open the survival kit of stress balls, breathing techniques and scripture verses. So, I pick a line based on years of observation and research: how many people in the line. How many items each one has. How many children distracting the buyer and most importantly...speed and efficiency of the cashier. Cashiers. Unaware of how they control my life for that precious half hour of my day. I have to confess, every time, the frustration I experience watching mine, scan soup cans in virtual slow motion while talking to the customer about the nice weather she is missing. My blood boils vigorously (still fake smiling) as I watch customers in the lanes to my right and left...unchosen, fluid happy lanes...slide through the exit.
It's the only time I really pay attention to numbers. Making certain notice of my competitors on either side. The ones I would be directly behind if I had chosen their line. I count each one as they leave. One or even two can be reasonably accepted, but as three, four and five pass me, I hold back the eye rolls and sighs. Fake smile.I start shifting my weight...I can't leave my grocery cart full. I can't skip over to the better line with the PhD cashier...or can I? Another gamble. Stress level increases. My kids start to notice as I am not clearly answering their questions. They begin to assess the situation too. I fake smile at them and rub their undisturbed heads. No need for them to suffer too.
No, if I skip to the better line I'd be behind my present place and God only knows that someone would need a price check and the temporary, beautiful flow would stop...just to teach me a lesson. It happened the other day at Tim Horton's. Two in front of me...10 went through beside me...I skipped over to that line and got through even before the people I was behind in the dreaded line! Sometimes the gamble pays off, so you have to think carefully over these things. The kids ask again about buying gum and I finally notice one of them almost through an entire Archie comic book that they shouldn't read unless buying. Good kids, breaking me of my selfish thought process. I regain my composure, abandon the casino I think I am in and accept fate. I am stuck. Live life in the line I chose. Stop looking around at my neighbors who look like they are better off. Refuse negativity, regret and pity parties. Stop counting. Stay away from Casinos. Look at what good is around me and wait patiently on my bored cashier who wants to be my friend. At least she wraps meat well and doesn't put it in the bag with the Romaine.
Sometimes grocery store line experiences are full of life lessons that really can make a difference.