Express Lane Rules

March 31, 2023


I guess I had about 18 or so items in my buggy, but Sheila, who was working at the “10 Items or Less” lane said, “Come on through, honey, I’ll take you here.” 

I hesitated and told her, “Oh, I don’t know, someone with only a box of popsicles will show up behind me and get mad.” She laughed and said, “Don’t you worry, you can blame it on me.” 

For the record, I’ve never complained when people have more than 10 items in the express lane, but I may have inadvertently given them a Southern lady “stare.” 

Come on, there are reasons we have rules (speaking of which, it really should be 10 items or “fewer,” shouldn’t it?). 

If I were running late to a meeting . . . hold on, that’s a bad example because I don’t run late for meetings — because that would be breaking the rules. 

But let’s say I was in a hurry to see a long-lost relative who had requested a jar of Wickles because that’s what he wanted while visiting America from his home in London. 

If I approached the “10 Items or Less” lane and discovered Boopsie in front of me unloading 15 cans of cat food, 3 boxes of Fruit Loops, 7 boxes of Jell-O, and using 25 coupons, I’d be a wee bit irritated. I may even miss the lifetime opportunity to meet my long-lost relative, Sir Paddington Beardom. 

Sheila said, “don’t worry, nobody else is around,” so I quickly unloaded my items but felt a bit queasy. What if my pastor walked by and saw me in the wrong lane? It’s definitely a form of cheating. 

I said to my efficient cashier, “I just don’t want to make anyone angry.” 

She laughed and said, “Not many people get upset about it,” which made me feel like the only one in town in the rule-follower club (when I know good and well there are exactly 25 on the current roster — all firstborns, what a coincidence).  

But then, she scrunched her face up like she’d bit into a Wickles herself and said, “There was one time, a lady came through and started yelling at me about my cell phone being next to the register. I use it to keep track of the time and she assumed I was trying to talk on it during my shift. She yelled and screamed at me like I’ve never heard. And she used really bad words. You know.” She silently mouthed, “efff you.” 

I gave an appropriate ladylike gasp and asked, “What did you do?” 

Sheila said, “I held it together. I told her I hoped she had a nice day. But as soon as she walked out the door, I fell apart. I burst into tears and had to take a break. I don’t like anyone yelling at me like that. You can cuss me all you want but raising your voice for no reason other than to embarrass me makes me lose it.” 

“I’m so sorry she did that to you. It sounds like she wanted to make herself feel powerful, which is actually a sign that she was feeling very weak.” 

“You’re right about that,” Sheila said as she handed me the last bag. 

As I rolled my buggy away, I said, “I’ll be sure to be extra nice when I see you to make up for that woman.” 

“Thanks for being so sweet, baby.” 

“Thanks for letting me break the rules today,” I said. Then she laughed and called out, “It’s good for you!” 

I think she’s right. 

Just this once.

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