Saturday, May 10, 2008

Domestic Comedy

This evening I was at the local WalMart to pick up a few things. Even at 9:30 PM, the place was a madhouse, with not enough cashiers to check out the long lines of customers.

But oh, look! The "10 Items or Less" line was pretty short! Only one customer between me and the person being served! And I had . . . let me count . . . five, six, only seven items! Bingo! Should be rung up and out of here in no time!

Uh, maybe not. Just as I approached, two young women pushing a cart filled to the gills with food, household supplies, flowers, and clothes pulled in right ahead of me.

Oh, good grief, I thought. Two precious products of the modern-day American educational system. For obviously, they could neither read nor count.

I was wrong. Let us say, rather, two shining examples of modern-day American ethical education.

Young Woman 1: Here we go!

Young Woman 2: It's "10 Items or Less" . . . but hey, there's three of us, right? That's like if we had three carts, ya know?

YW1: Yeah! We can each do ten items at a time! You do ten, I'll do ten, and when Charlene* [the third member of their party, presumably; off somewhere in the store still shopping] gets here, she can do ten!

YW2: Great!

While the customers ahead of them were checked out, these enterprising young persons passed the time changing the prices on a display of DVDs. This diverted them so well that a great gulf opened up between their cart and the cash register, while behind me the line was extending back and back and around into the walkway. Spoil-sport that I am, I stage-whispered "Excuse me!" and YW2 quickly put down the price card she was fooling with and pushed their overloaded basket up and started putting things on the belt.

Cashier didn't say a thing, didn't bat an eye. (She might've been the one who got through twelve grades unable to count or read). Just stood there stolidly scanning the items as they rolled down the belt.

While I had a front-row view of the unfolding comedy. It was amazing. YW2 counted off ten items; cashier rang them up; YW1 paid for them. She counted off another ten items and paid for them herself. Then another ten, rung up separately again, which her friend paid for.

And not just any ten items. They had to be chosen carefully. Wouldn't want our orders getting mixed up, now would we?

Meanwhile, the line is getting longer and the atmosphere is getting tense and restless. I'm thinking, "For goodness sake, could you please hurry up, I'm about to be sick standing here! Come on!"

YW2 was deliberately and selectively pulling another ten items from the communal cart when I noticed something odd about her clothing. She was wearing a white and black sundress over a tee-shirt and slacks, and the top of the sundress was hanging down around her midriff. Is this a new style?

No . . . the tags were still on it. She must've tried the sundress on over her clothes to see if it fit, then couldn't be bothered to take it off. I wondered if she would be bothered to remember to pay for it, or if the cashier would have the wit and perspicacity to notice and get it scanned.

But I didn't get to see this part of the comedy played. YW2 was pulling out the cash for the fourth group of ten purchases, there were maybe fifteen or twenty articles of clothing still lying in the cart, the mysterious Charlene* had not yet appeared, and the natives in the queue were getting not only restless, but downright irritated, when YW1 exclaims, "Oh! I have to get a card!" To the cashier: "Where are the cards?" Cashier gives her directions, while I'm thinking, "Ye gods, they're going to go pick out a card and leave their basket here blocking the line. I know it ! I know it! Now I am going to be sick!" But YW1 says to her friend, "This stuff is mostly Charlene's*. Let's go get a card and find her." With that, they pulled away from the checkout and disappeared back into the maelstrom of the store.

Hilarious [she says grimly], just hilarious. Talk about adhering to the letter of the law and stomping all over the spirit! When is it okay to take fifty or sixty items through the "10 Items or Less" line? When you hold up the queue for ten or fifteen minutes paying for your haul in ten- item groups!

Not ethical, but oh my, how clever!

What was it that Jesus said about the children of the world being shrewder in their generation than the children of light . . . ?


blackdiamond06 said...

Wow. Great big entitlement problem...

Poor you. Make yourself a big cup of tea, and snuggle the fuzzy ones.


St. Blogwen said...

The biggest irony is that if they'd brazened it out and paid for it all on one ticket, it would have taken a third of the time.

But I guess then they would have had to do their own arithmetic separating the orders out at home. See comment about American educational system!

Annalise said...

Great work.