Yesterday, while dutifully scrambling to transfer my groceries from the cart to the belt, dig my credit card out of my purse, search for an empty space on which to place my bags in the bagging area, poke multiple buttons on the pin pad to decline this membership and that donation, AND bag my own groceries, I was flummoxed by the impatient clerk who irritably told me to move my bag. I had mistakenly set my bag in the place where the bags-for-purchase would have received my purchases had I not provided my own reusable bags.
“Would you move your bag; you’re in…”, she snarled.
“I’m in your way?” I finished for her brightly, as she fumbled around her cranky brain for an acceptable finish to her impolite request.
“Don’t mince words, I’m not overly sensitive”, I followed as she sheepishly nodded. I moved my bags further down the counter and proceeded to place my groceries in my bags, reaching over the various and sundry items that stores have deemed the last ditch place to get one to part with yet another donation or make an impulse purchase. The clerk shifted impatiently as she waited for me to remove my card from the card reader so she could begin shoving the next customer’s comestibles into the items I hadn’t yet had time to bag.
I remember a time, and here I flagrantly make a display of my age, when one wheeled the cart to within reach of the checker, then stood back to fill out the check (that’s a slip of paper with one’s banking information on it, with spaces to fill in the amount of money one wishes to transfer to the vendor) in anticipation of paying for the groceries, while the pleasant staff removed purchases from the cart, rang them up by hand (no scanner), and conveyed them down the line to a clean-cut young person (known as a box boy) who carefully sorted one’s items into bags (provided at no additional cost), and placed them into one’s now-empty cart. The check-out clerk dutifully compared one’s driver’s license to the information on the check and then kindly asked if the customer would like help out with her order.
Do I sound old and crabby? Have I become cynical, fondly remembering the good old days? Probably but I prefer to believe that, “Those people we identify as cynics are idealists whose feelings are hurt every single day by the world being not what they hoped it would be.”*
*Bob Odenkirk in Lucky Hank