Saturday, September 14, 2013


I did the deed with eyes downcast; I rolled my tiny cart into the 12 Items or Less line, and silently counted my items: 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16. It was Saturday morning, and the supermarket was very busy. I looked across at the other check lanes, and they were all full of carts that were all full of goods; normally I would have gone to another lane, but so busy! I wasn't about to move.

But the shame. The shame of it. All my life, I've scoffed at those who would scoff at the orderly lining up of customers. I used to count, with a glowing sense of satisfaction, as the person in front of me would put their items on the belt. I would count. "Oh, thirteen items, eh," I would think, and then I'd feel that smug sense of self-righteousness as I recounted my ten items. Well below the limit.

But today: There I was with sixteen items. Four past the limit. I could have done with two less cans of soup. That would have put me at fourteen. The bag of chips? The jar of salsa? Those weren't even on my list. I could have squeaked in at twelve items, but no.

The old man behind me had two items. I could see it in his eyes. He knew. He was judging me. I had 16 items.

And as the checkout guy beeped across my items. 1...2...3... and eventually, the twelfth  beep: thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, SIXTEEN. Each beep announcing that here was a villain who couldn't follow the rules. Here stood a proud, conceited man who thought he was too important to wait in line with everyone else.

Burning with shame, I swiped my card, unable to muster even the courage to get cash back. I put my plastic bags in the cart and fled, and then:


I turned. The checkout guy held up a plastic bag, like an accusation. I had forgotten a bag. I had so many. In the express lane! So many that my greed and prideful disdain for the rule of law had made me forget. I slinked back and got the last bag.

Oh! Shall I ever show my face again? For shame! For shame!

No comments:

About Me

My photo
I am the author of 5 books: Android Down, Firewood for Cannibals, The Cubicles of Madness, Robot Stories, and most recently, Various Meats and Cheeses. I live and write in Michigan. My website is at