Checkout lines: making poor choices

Mike Brantley

Checkout lines: making poor choices

Here is some advice: if you're in a store and see me in the checkout line, run.

Get in another line.

The line I am in is not the line you want to be in. Trust me.

It doesn't matter if it is a big box store, the convenience store, any number of grocery stores, or the concession stand line at the ball game. You will grow old in the line that I have chosen.

Just recently:

• Twice, I was in line at stores where a person's card did not work. Now, let's be honest, this has happened to many of us. I've seen it happen to a bank vice president's wife, and it's happened to me.

Like most people, if I have a card that doesn't work, I try a backup card.

I don't try the same card eight times in a row. Holding your tongue differently does not make it work. The person was running the card upside down each time. The clerk watched. The rest of us in line were mesmerized apparently until someone -- it could have been me, I'm honestly not sure -- said, "Turn the &^%$ card around."

In the other case, the person swiped their card and immediately hit the cancel button, which stopped the transaction. She did this multiple times. Finally she said, "Well, I know I have money in the account." It took the clerk several minutes to convince her by saying "Don't hit all the buttons this time after you swipe it."

• A man told all of us in line that he needed to call his wife because he was only supposed to spend $19. The register showed $20-and-change. I didn't count, but he had to have dialed at least a dozen times before she answered and approved. He had poor reception, so while we waited in line for him to pay, he walked around in circles pointing his phone at the sky and laughing hysterically.

I'll admit shopping presents many hazards for me, and I bring some of it on myself. For example, I have made the mistake of wearing a red polo shirt in Target.

Wearing a red shirt and being tall in Target is a mistake you only make once, friends. I should have gotten a commission on all the things I brought down from the top shelf.

Earlier, this week, as I was rolling my buggy to the checkout line, two guys nearly sideswiped me to jump in front.

After securing their place and boxing me out, one went to a nearby drink cooler and threw the other an orange drink. He was about 20 feet away. The drink made it 18.5 feet, hit the floor and exploded on contact like a scene from the A-Team. Only my moisture-wicking shirt saved me.

Then there are "couponers." Now, I love a coupon as much as anyone. I have benefitted from coupon fairies -- the people who will leave a coupon they can't use on top of the product in the store. I like doing this as well as offering my "discount" card to someone who doesn't have one. Sticking it to the Man and saving a dollar for myself or others offers a special kind of satisfaction.

I'm not talking about them. I'm talking about the Hoarders. Not people who are simply organized and have their lists and coupons synced for maximum savings.

Nothing annoys me more than trying to buy Extra Extra Multi Improved Super Strength Detergent that Fights Stains and the Odor Worked Up By Teenage Sons and the shelf being completely wiped out. This is not caused by a national shortage.

It's because Mrs. Thang has two dozen gallons of the stuff in her cart because she it's Double Triple Super Slap Your Mama coupon day and %$#@, you never know when you're going to be trapped and need six months worth of Tide to survive.

Sidenote: what's even more bizarre is when I see these people selling shampoo and shaving cream and fabric softener and cereal on Craigslist. I mean, what in the world? I just can't imagine thinking, "Dang, I need some Frosted Flakes. I could go to the store, or I could drive across county to some stranger's house and see what they've got in the garage. If they don't kill me and make me into a lampshade, I might save $2-3."

What's worse is this scenario: being behind the Exxxtreme Couponer who can't decide if she needs to ditch of the 14 bottles of shampoo or 32 boxes of Nabs because she has coupons for all but doesn't want to spend $1.50 over the budget she has made in her head...

... so, she has the clerk scan one item after another, allowing for the coupons, to try to reduce the bill by EXACTLY $1.50. I became so impatient, I almost handed the stranger $1.50 just to get out of the way so I could go home. That's right, it was so tense that I ALMOST GAVE MONEY AWAY.

My mama has always told me that she has this curse where total strangers sometimes approach her in public and share their troubles in life. I now wonder if I am doomed to make poor checkout choices forever.