Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Waiting Game (a fictional account by Josephine)

Waiting is a difficult thing for me, but apparently not for many people that I follow in line at the grocery store. They must not know about that little gadget that sits right in front of them as they wait for the checker to scan their groceries. As soon as their first item is scanned, theoretically they could swipe their ATM card or even their credit card (which is faster since they don't have to enter a p.i.n.) and payment is done. Fin. Ende. Or they could pay cash and the only wait would be to receive their change, which often speeds down that silver slide and makes that cool *clanging* sound. Theoretically.

But since we don't live in a "theoretical" world I end up behind that lady who waits until the very last item is scanned to begin looking for her checkbook, which ends up being at the most far reaches of her purse. I get to watch her scrounge around her bottomless pit of a handbag in search of a pen, which she discovers has run out of ink. Upon borrowing a pen and filling out the check, complete with the month written out in its entirety, she must flip through her Rolodex-like check register to record this present transaction before passing the check to the clerk. As I shift my weight to my other leg (since the previous one had gone numb from supporting me in the same position for so long), the checker reminds her that she needs to show her identification when paying with a check. Back to the cavernous abyss of a purse she goes, rummaging for her wallet and attempting to quell the groans of shoppers in line behind her with comments like "I know it's in here somewhere!" (to which I think "It'd better be!"), and it finally emerges. The wallet is thick with old receipts and countless picture windows housing old Glamour Shots, and the theme to Leonard Nimoy's "In Search Of" comes to my mind as I stop counting how many times she pulls out the wrong card. Eventually she presents her driver's license to the checker and I move forward to take my spot (credit card out and in hand, mind you) in front of that payment device, only to have my plans of progression thwarted by the fact that she forgot to sign her check. Writing so slowly as if she's being graded on her penmanship, she finally completes her signature, and is on her way.

So after my first item is passed over the glass I swipe my card and watch my groceries take their place in their own little waiting area until the bagger puts them away. However, I see that the barbeque sauce scans a higher price than what the tag said on the shelves. I notify the checker, who proceeds to ask the bagger to go and double check the price. I am told that this would take a moment, and I say "OK." After all, we're talking about saving a few cents here. And the people behind me in line? Ah, they can wait.