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Juggling Act—Barbara Stresses At The Supermarket

Juggling Act — Barbara Stresses At The Supermarket

A few weeks ago, I saw a cartoon: Two women are waiting to check-out at the supermarket. One says that this has become the most stressful time of her day. Juggling her card, her groceries, her rewards code, her bags and not taking so long that the people behind her start groaning was too much. I’ve been there. 

Today, I got lucky. There was only one person in front of me in the check-out line at Whole Foods — a young mom. She had a little boy in the kiddie seat and a huge pile of groceries she was lifting out of her shopping chart and placing on the belt. There was no one waiting behind me. 

I got ready, fishing in my handbag for my phone, pulse quickening. Got it, scrolled left, clicked the app to bring up my rewards code, refreshed my phone again and again to keep that code active. When there was enough room to put one of those plastic dividers between the mom’s order and mine, I started stacking up my groceries. Damn, I forgot eggs. I looked behind me. Still no one waiting. I smiled at the cashier, Do I have time to run back and get a dozen eggs?” He nodded sagely, and I took off, clutching my phone, zig-zagging down the aisles like a Formula 1 driver at Monte Carlo and was back just in time for the mom in front of me to tap her card on the keypad and start bagging. Still no one behind me.

The cashier started scanning my chicken, almond milk yogurt and some fruit. I scanned my code to get my discounts and took a deep breathe. Pulled my wallet out of my handbag, yanked out my debit card. Balancing phone and card, I zipped my bag shut in case I dropped it and the contents spilled all over the floor. Still no one behind me rolling their eyes, whispering expletives under their breathes, looking for shorter lines. Phew. 

Still my pulse raced even faster. I got a grip. Organized my shopping bags. I am a checkout Olympian, ready to go at the sound of the starter pistol. I am able to scan my rewards card and start bagging before the credit card machine pings for me to pay. 

I smiled at the cashier again, This was such a luxury. No one behind me.” I took a deep breathe. There’s usually somebody behind me staring daggers because I’m not checking out fast enough.” He laughed, Yeah, I learned not to worry about impatient people.” I laughed back, After I retired I thought about getting a part-time job at a supermarket. I missed being with people every day.” I dropped my last shopping bag into my cart, But I don’t think I could do it. The pressure. Chances are I’d have a stroke after my first day.” Then I looked behind me. Someone was waiting, inching closer to the credit card machine, letting me know it was time to be on my way.