Monday, July 4, 2011

Registering Time

There I was, in the checkout at the supermarket. I was in a bit of a hurry, since I was just picking up a couple of things I needed to make dinner and it was already getting late. I had opted to go through one of the manned checkout registers rather than the self checkout. Every time I'm in a hurry the self checkout goes all wonky and I wind up having to wait for someone who gives the impression that they're way too busy to be helping me. Instead of going through that I went to the only manned counter. Since there was only one open, it wasn't like I had a lot of options. I only had five or six things in my hands; it wasn't even one of those trips where I get halfway through the store and start wishing I had a basket or cart.
I threw everything on the belt and moved to stand in front of the cashier, my little shopping club card held at the ready. She thanked me when she took the cart, I thanked her when she gave it back. Then she saw my shirt.
I picked this shirt up on my one trip to Georgia, for my aunts wedding. The trip was for the wedding, not the shirt. The shirt has a large picture of a redfish across the back, with the slogan "Your Bait Sucks and Your Boat's Ugly - Savanna GA." I was replacing my shopping club card in my wallet and pulling out my debit card as the cashier, a slightly older woman, said, speaking slowly and distinctly, "Oh, do you fish?"
I looked up from my debit card to see the woman looked at me and holding the first item to be scanned in her hand. She was not scanning it, she was looking at me. Beside me a gentleman was throwing his purchases on the belt behind mine, slapping that the separator bar down with all the authority of someone also in a rush.
"Yes, I do."
She lifted my first item in the air, but then it settled back down into place, on stand, as she said "My husband and I went on a trip one time, on one of those big boats."
"That's great," I replied. "Maybe I'll take one of those trips someday." I immediately, and pointedly, returned my eye focus to the debit card reader in front of me. The screen on the reader said "please wait for cashier".
Out of the corner of my eye I saw Mr. In-A-Hurry checking his watch.
I feel for you dude, I feel for you.
The cashier paused for thought for a moment. A long moment. Or two. She is not a multi-tasker. She dod not scan and think at the same time.
"My husband, he caught one of those big fish. You know the ones I mean? The ones with the big thing?"
 She was waving my first purchase behind her back, indicating the "thing" to which she was referring.
"A sailfish, or swordfish," I said, before returning my attention to that debit machine like a dog on point, card at the ready.
She swung the item down and over the scanner, which beeped.
She put her hand to the second item, then stopped again.
Mr. In-A-Hurry sighed loudly.
"Oh, it was huge, and then we did the thing with that guy."
Okay, I have to admit that when she said that it threw me for a bit of a loop.What thing with what guy? All kinds of things to ran through my head at that one, up to and including this short, round and bespectacled older lady and her husband having some strange sexual encounter with the boat captain. Thus it was that I believe I sounded completely stunned when I said "What?"
"The thing with the taxidermist." She paused. "And the fish."
"You had it mounted?" I said.
She scanned another of my items.
"Yes, that was it."
Beside me, Mr. In-A-Hurry had begun to mutter under his breath. I could not make out what he said, but it sounded vaguely as if he were praying that the wrath of some sort of hell would suddenly befall either myself, the cashier, or both. I wished him luck.
I realize that at this point I still had two or three items to go, but in all honesty my memory of that small portion of my life is completely blank. Whether I entered some sort of fugue state or have just repressed the memory out of sheer horror, the result is the same. The next thing I knew I was standing beyond the cash register with my bagged purchases in my hands. I looked up at the clock on the wall and did the math. I believe that I'm missing 7 min. of time there, 7 min. of my life that I will not get back.
Somewhat dazed, I looked back at the register. Mr. In-A-Hurry was standing in the exact spot I had been in. His debit card was in his hand, and a look of utter defeat was on his face. The cashier was holding his first purchase in her hand, unscanned, I believe, and she was talking.
"Sorry, but better you than me pal," I said aloud. "I did my time."
I turned and hustled toward the door, late for starting dinner but feeling lucky to be making dinner at all.

I have to learn that when I'm in a hurry I should not go shopping. No matter what register I go to, it's going to be broken.

Talk you later!

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