Express Stress

I don’t know about you, but I am usually a stickler about using the express lane at the grocery store.  You will not find me trying to sneak 13 items past the cashier if the sign says 12,  I don’t count multiples as “one”,  and I am one of those incredibly annoying individuals  who surreptitiously counts the items in the cart ahead of me if it seems to be a little on the “heavy”  side, though thankfully, I am smart enough not to say anything.  Somehow, though, that all changed yesterday.  After a trip to pick up a few items, I did a quick count and thought I was good to go.  Imagine my chagrin when I started unloading my cart only to find that I had hidden my six cartons of yogurt and three burritos under a package of spinach.  Flustered, I said something to the cashier about not realizing I had more items.  Her perfunctory smile was accompanied by that sceptical look that seemed to telegraph a sarcastic “right”.  In that moment, I envisioned a siren erupting above my head, bathing the store in flashing red light accompanied by a cacophonous shriek.  “Clean up in the express lane” a voice would say as two burly stockmen would drag me away to some terrible fate.  As she screened item after item, I saw that there was someone behind me; even worse.  I had brought my own bags (one small redeeming act), and started to help bag the items.  As I grabbed a loaf of bread, the cashier retrieved it from me.  “Have I scanned that?”  she asked.  The answer was no, and I imagined the two floor tiles under me giving way to deposit me below with the rotten cabbage.  “So sorry,” I mumbled, letting her finish the task.  I didn’t look behind me, but walked away hurriedly with my two bags and two gallons of milk.  When I reached my car, I saw that it had been t-boned by a shopping cart, surely divine retribution for my transgressions.  I’m sure I will eventually recover from this self-imposed trauma; with such an over-developed sense of rule following, is it any wonder that I never embarked on a life of crime?

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