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Kirk's Ignorant Opinion

Express Line Etiquette

Posted 02 February 2021

Let's get right to it...

 

First of all, let’s discuss the dictionary definition of “Express”.  According to my paraphrase of Dictionary.com, express means, "direct, fast, making few or no stops."

 

I would like you to infuse this concept into your mind as you read on.

I know you have all experienced the pain I am about to share. If not, then you are probably one of those individuals responsible for the pain that the rest of us go through when we are tired, getting off work, but must run to the grocery store. (This is a task I absolutely despise, but it’s necessary unless you are one of the elite who can hire a personal shopper. I am not and let’s just say that I am less than thrilled when I am already hungry, I am tired and I am irritable. Even when I am well rested, shopping is never an event for entertainment purposes such as going to a movie.)

The grocery store is a place to go in, get what you need and get the you-know-what out. With that said, let me give you a few examples of inappropriate behavior in the grocery store. Let’s recap my last visit to the food farm.  

After work, I stop by to pick up a few necessities. While traveling down the canned food aisle, I encounter a very large human positioned at a 45° angle.  Her body alone blocks most of the space and her cart the rest. It is impossible to pass her while she considers the merits of the low fat version of a can in her right hand against the original version in her left. Are you kidding me? This is a no brainer! But she is the same person that you see at McDonalds ordering liberally from the extra value meal (everything super-sized) and then asking for a diet soda. (After all, this is one way to convince yourself that you are on course with your diet and you can feel good as you prepare to MAC on a Double Quarter Pounder with cheese, chicken nuggets, a large fry, an apple pie and maybe an extra cheese burger for the drive home to combat any left-over hunger pains.  I mean, you are already around 2000 calories which is over most women’s allotted calorie intake for a day, but by god you saved the extra 140 of a regular soda.)

So, we are now in the store and she won’t move. I have to wonder, “What IS this? She’s pouring over the label, reading it in detail, so I know that she isn’t blind. She must see me because we are all blessed with peripheral vision. What kind of perverse power trip are we on here?”

I finally squeeze by which requires me to bump her cart just a little for which I get the dirtiest look, as if I have done something incredibly rude.

Then I run into the “Snackers.”

 

Oh, you know the ones who think that the grocery store is some sort of government subsidized restaurant. These people go in looking for a free meal via supplier sample booths. They stroll around with empty carts and toothpicks sticking out of their lips, mooching not one, but two or three samples from the vendors, acting like critics for the food section of a travel magazine, but they never buy a thing.

 

One day, I am going to stand by a booth and when one of those free-loaders comments on the quality of the sample, I am going to throw a 25 pound bag of that crap in their cart and say, “Here you go buddy, a year’s supply.”

I work my way through the maze of grazers (almost to my goal: the butcher), only to run into A PARENT. Back in the day, I tossed my kid in the toddler seat of the cart, made sure his fat little legs were pointed downward and not pinched, gave him something to hold, which he would of course throw on the floor trying to engage me in a game of fetch, and we would haul ass to get out of everyone’s way before the kid got bored or started screaming.

 

When I first wrote this those "neato" plastic molded monstrosities that resemble a space ship or a race car were all the rage. Thankfully, it seems they have been mostly phased out by now. They were ludicrous to navigate and took up more space than the woman who was probably still comparing labels on aisle 6. 

Even without those carts, parents need to remember that if your kid is running around, throwing themselves on the floor, screaming, or pulling things from the shelves, while you ignore them, you are making it even more difficult to purchase food in a timely manner and get the hell out.

After all this drama, I finally arrive at the butcher’s counter. Here, I encounter yet another thing that makes the famous Bartram upper lip curl. One of you wants a pound of this or a quarter pound of that. You are sticking to your guns about the weight. The butcher is removing one shrimp at a time as you stare fixatedly at the scale while a long line forms behind you. 

 

If you want exact weight, go to the frozen food section. The butcher counter is a place where you check out the price-per-pound and order a light pound or a heavy pound. That means when the butcher places the meat on the scale, you don’t bitch if it’s 3/10 of a pound more than what you asked for. If you respect the light/heavy rule, you might even get charged for only one pound, even if you are a little over, because you are not making the butcher’s life a living hell. Got it?

Finally, I get my turn, I choose my meat (I am always good with a heavy pound), and head to the jolly, old “express line”. I may have picked up an item or two on the way, but when I arrive, I am well under the ten item limit.

Express Lane NO!
Express Lane YES!

Now, with me, there is a buffer. I’m a reasonable guy. 11 or 12 items is ok by me. Accidents happen, you are probably hungry too. We all know that as we navigate from the far corner of the market, (not that they design with purpose to put snacky items in our path), if we are hungry and it looks good we want to buy it. The fact that you have gone over the express line limit…that’s okay…you went over the limit in your hunger, if you have a FEW extra items, it’s only a couple extra seconds of my precious time left on planet earth.

It’s when I see one of you cock-block me with your cart crammed full that I begin my critique of the express line etiquette. I am the one burning a hole in the back of your neck as you unload your 12 containers of yogurt. 12 containers shrink-wrapped together with one scan? That is one item! If those same twelve are separate, that means you have exceeded your right to the express line, especially with all those other goodies in your cart. Clothing should not be allowed because nine times out of ten, clothing will require a price check. Coupons and arguments over sale prices are not allowed. (That’s a task for the customer service counter.)

For all the fossils out there who still write checks, this is 2015. We now have a piece of plastic that does the same function. It is more secure and requires a swipe and a four digit pen which you can enter while the cashier is still ringing up your items. You don’t have to figure out the date, you don’t have to carefully inscribe your signature. If you don’t have the mental capacity to adjust to this you should probably not left your house in the first place.

One other quick bitch… Say you are one of those who has transported into this century and do swipe your card to purchase your 25 items, and if then your debit card comes up declined, do NOT argue with the cashier. “Insufficient funds” means that you do not have the money in your bank account to cover your purchase. It means you are broke. Swallow your pride, apologize and get your sorry ass out of there, because if there is even a question of this happening, you should have checked your balance before you entered the store. The rest of society just wants to conduct our business, go home and Traeger up the heavy pound we selected at the butchers.

With all this said, I think I would rather have my knee drained on a daily basis than to grocery shop with my fellow mankind. Bottom line, I am speaking on behalf of all of us, or at least the male species, when it comes to conducting this chore from hell. We don’t want any speed bumps between us and a couple of beers, our dinner and the chance to hibernate for 8-10 hours before we have to get up and do it all over again. 

 

So get in, get out, or just stay out of the way. I’m hungry.

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.     

Confucius

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All photos by Kirk and Marea Bartram unless otherwise stated.