Check This Out (#31)


Is it just me, or are supermarket checkout lines insane? Do you know that grocery stores spend millions of dollars a year hiring marketing geniuses to devise insidious ways to suck more money out of your pockets at checkout lines? It’s true. You may have noticed, there’s always at least twelve checkout lines, but only two or three are open at any one time.

This is done on purpose. Let me explain. Have you ever waited in line for what seems like hours under hot and glaring lights, until you’re ready to pass out from dehydration? When you finally approach the conveyor line, what’s the first thing you see? Yes, a cooler stocked with high-priced, cold, frosty, and delicious sodas, juices and bottled water. Diabolical, isn’t it.

After finishing off a twenty-four ounce bottle of tap water, and dumping six more in your cart, what do you see next? Right, shelves full of gum and candy. If you have kids with you, I hope you put blindfolds on them before you got to the checkouts, because the candy is opposite the conveyor, and only six inches off the ground. Oh, don’t forget the papers with aliens on them, diet books, people magazine, and the packs of batteries next to the gum. We always need more batteries, right? Wait a minute; is that super glue and toe-nail clippers?

You may have noticed that once your groceries are loaded on the conveyor, the line often comes to a complete stop. That’s because an elderly woman, who bought one can of cat food, is digging through her tiny change purse for pennies, someone with twenty green environmentally friendly bags is meticulously loading their own groceries, or a customer just pulled out the dreaded check book. What do you do for the next few minutes? Yes, you grab a couple of those delicious, Hershey, super-sized chocolate bars, a huge Slim Jim, and a few more batteries!

Have you ever been almost lulled to sleep by those gentle, rhythmic beeps as each item is scanned and bagged? It almost hypnotizes you, doesn’t it? It never lasts though. Usually the checker will stop, repeatedly try to scan an item five or six times, glance desperately around, look at you………… then, grab a phone and say those dreaded words we all hate to hear.

“Price check. Price check at thirteen.”

We all know that price checks are never simple things like loaves of bread or gallons of milk. They’re usually an obscure fruit from Central America, or some type of garbanzo bean in the ethnic foods section. For me, they’re always some highly embarrassing, personal feminine product my wife had snuck on my grocery list. I have two questions. Why do they sometimes loudly announce the item over the store loudspeaker? Do you really want to hear,

“I need a price check on the extra large depends diapers, in the super-sized box.”

Okay, so I have a bladder problem. Besides, these checkout lines take forever. Secondly, why is the price check always performed by a woman named Martha, who’s at least a hundred years old, was recently fitted with a pacemaker, and uses a walker?

The next time you get a price check, look behind you. Now glance up.  You’ll most likely be looking at a giant of a man with his bear-like arms crossed across his massive chest, and a tattoo on his neck that says, “Redrum.” Every time I have a price-check, he or someone like him is usually right behind me in line, with eight bags of chips, and two six-packs of beer. Rarely is it a patient elderly gentleman, or a sweet old woman who looks like my Grandmother.

I almost forgot about baggers. Every grocery store should have a training course for new hires called bagging 101. Here are the simple rules. Bleach does not go in with pot roast. Hot and cold food must be separated. Dog food is for dogs not people-keep it separate. Leaking bottles of window cleaner do not go in a bag with the delicious apple pie with the tantalizing aroma, I just pulled out of the bakery case. Finally, if you’re so dumb, you put cans of baked beans on top of bread….. “You’re fired!”

I just got home from the grocery store, and I’m ready to make dinner. Let’s see how I did. Two smashed loaves of bread, 6 cans of baked beans, 34 Hershey’s candy bars, 16 Reese’s peanut butter cups, a couple interesting magazines, 24 bottles of water, 22 packs of AA batteries, a roast that smells like bleach, multiple packs of gum, 4 sticks of super glue, and an apple pie that doesn’t smell right. I guess I did okay. Wait, here comes my wife. What did you say honey? Did you say,

“What’s for dinner?”……… Oh, crap!


About Patrick Dykie

I'm a simple, middle class family man, living a quiet life in eastern Pennsylvania with my wife and two sons. I love to write and make people laugh. During the day, I'm an account representative, and at night I'm working hard to be a writer. I've faced some things over the past few years that have slowed me down in my dreams, but I have always been an optimist. I also have a love of life, and believe it is a precious gift. I wish you all well on your own journeys.
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One Response to Check This Out (#31)

  1. colonialist says:

    They probably have a secret prompt to the cashier through hidden earphones – ‘No, delay ringing up the next item … he’s going to grab that candy … OK! … no, wait; he’s got his eye on another …’

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