Sunflower Mandala

If Life Is a Shopping Cart . . .

Can you survive the horror of a checkout delay at the A&P?

I don’t usually grocery shop on a weekday, but today was my last chance to use both a $10-off coupon and a 5% reward coupon that I’d forgotten when I shopped this past Saturday at the Scarsdale A&P. At 11 am the parking lot was half-empty, the store uncrowded, and my buddy Walter at the deli counter was ready with his grin and good humor. Add the sunshiny weather, the discount coupons, and a shopping list that included Easter chocolates, and you can surely understand my upbeat mood. 

Some of the other shoppers were not so chipper, however. When I was about halfway through the aisles and making a turn at the front of the store, I heard loud complaining, then noticed that the four self-service checkout stations were closed. The regular checkout lines were therefore a little longer than you’d expect, and boy were folks cranky about it: 

“Look at her, she’s just standing there!”

“I can’t believe they only have two registers open!”

She’s so slow!”

I cringed at the sting of the words, which were certainly heard by the store staff. Anger can make something as harmless as a pronoun sound so nasty.  I can be a major cranky-pants, too (see my sourpuss blog entry below), but I found it ironic that we are on the brink of two major religious holidays that celebrate renewal, reflection, and appreciation, and here people were getting their tulip bulbs in a twist over a minor checkout delay. (It’s not like they were stuck on the Long Island Expressway.)

Yogic philosophy teaches us that we can avoid suffering. And one way to do that is to remain rooted in the present. I don’t think it’s the checkout line itself that triggers anger and frustration, but rather the idea that it will take you longer to get to where you are going next. And that it will take more time to do what you “need” to be doing. Or that you could and should have done something different to avoid the horror of it all. 

I can only imagine the inner dialogue of my mildly inconvenienced fellow A&P shoppers: “How long is this going to take?” When am I going to get out of here?”  “Now I’m going to be late for my doctor appointment/my lunch/my Easter bikini wax!” “I knew I should have gone to the Stop & Shop!”

The self-service checkout lanes opened about ten minutes later, and the lines–and the customer bitchfest–had evaporated by the time I was ready to check out.  So, yes, I was spared the horror of it all. Even better, I took home more than a foil-wrapped chocolate bunny and a brisket of beef: I was reminded to appreciate what’s in my shopping cart, rather than worry about when I’ll get to empty it.

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3 Responses to “If Life Is a Shopping Cart . . .”

  1. Phyllis says:

    Loved the “cranky shopper” story! (I am married to a cranky shopper! I do get cranky at the Bronxville CVS, though–just one checkout clerk!)

  2. Louise says:

    Well, we all get a little cranky, sometimes!

  3. Zorianna says:

    I was there Saturday as well – the cranky shoppers should have gone next door to Casa (used to be Maya) and had a brunch special with mimosa 🙂

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