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Fish Or Cut Bait

Expressly Yours
by Bob Ciminel

November 03, 2005

Although I avoid grocery shopping like the plague, I occasionally will stop at the local supermarket to pick up a few things for the wife. I try to keep the number of items at a minimum so I can use the express lane.

Most of our grocery stores have the self-checkout lines, but I hate those things. Oh, they are easy enough to use, but that darn computer-generated voice makes people think you are an idiot. How many times does it have to say, "Please put the item in the bag" before it realizes you did? A box of pantyhose doesn't weigh very much.

(In an emergency, I will pick up a pair of pantyhose for the wife, provided she is very specific as to size, color, brand, reinforcement, etc. She claims they can build a nuclear power plant with fewer specifications than I need for buying pantyhose. My retort is, "Just be glad you're in menopause.")

The other day I was in the local Publix supermarket picking up a few things for a cookout we were having later that day. I justified going to the grocery store because I was buying stuff to BBQ. Cooking out is a guy thing, so I was cool with shoving a grocery cart around the store. Besides, it was a Sunday morning and I met a lot of other men in the store - they all looked liked they were going to be cooking out too.

So, in my usual shopping method, one which my lovely wife has not been able to duplicate in 34 years; I went directly to the aisles containing the items I needed. It's easy; each aisle has a sign over it telling you what products are on the shelves. I didn't see a sign for salt, but I used deductive reasoning to estimate its proximity to baking supplies.

With my shopping cart loaded, I went to the front of the store and looked for the Express Lane. That's when I encountered my first problem. The sign said "10 Items or Less." I counted 12 in my cart. I thought, "What the heck; live dangerously for a change."

I got into the Express Lane and, wouldn't you know it, a woman came up behind me. I could see her glancing at my cart and mentally doing the math. She didn't say anything, but she gave me that look. You guys know what I mean when I say, "That look."

"I need to go on defense right now!" I thought. I can't let this woman push me around; not with all these other guys in line. So, putting on my most innocent expression I said, "I know it looks as though I have more than 10 items, but here's why I don't. I have two identical bags of raw peanuts, which I stacked on top of each other. The checkout clerk only has to scan one of them, so they should count as only one item." That brought the total down to 11.

The woman wasn't impressed. I went for the big one. "Look, my wife called me on my cell phone after I had picked up all of the items on my shopping list. She told me to pick up a can of cleanser. Since that wasn't on my original list, it really isn't part of my order. That brings the total down to 10 items, which meets the intent of the sign. If you want, I can have the clerk ring up the cleanser separately."

I don't understand it. As I spoke, the woman's eyes got wider and wider. Then she moved over to another checkout lane.


Bob Ciminel's articles may include satire and parody, and mix fact with fiction.
He assumes informed readers will be able to tell the difference.

Bob Ciminel lives in Roswell, Georgia, and works for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations.  Bob is also a conductor on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway.


Bob Ciminel ©2001 - 2005
All Rights Reserved

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