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Entries in Grocery shopping (1)


Checking Out at The Grocery Store with Children - It's as Close to Hell as One Can Get

Joe Pesci said “They f@#% you at the drive-thru!”(Lethal Weapon, 1989) But what about the checkout line at your local grocery store? Sometimes I swear they are just f@#%ing with me too. Like this past weekend when I took my 3-year-old daughter grocery shopping with me as a kind of “Daddy/daughter date” that turned in to the shopping trip from hell.

No, my daughter was great. It was the rest of the people in the grocery store I wanted to kill. You see, the shopping was the easy part. Entering the store, taking off my daughter’s coat, letting her push the cart down the aisles as I picked up a few hundred items – that was the nice, relaxing part of my day. She was well-behaved, helpful, and a just pure joy to be around. We got through the entire list in under twenty minutes without a meltdown, or a whine, or a “Daddy, I have to go to the bathroom!” And if there had been a checkout line with a normal number of people in it (one, maybe two), I would have been home free. But NO! On this particular Sunday morning this grocery store only had 5 checkouts open to serve 30 people. Can you say: “STUPID!!!”

Sure, you do the math and say, “5 checkouts for 30 people… that’s like 6 customers per checkout…right?” Wrong! That’s like 2 checkouts serving the two slowest customers on the face of the earth for an hour, while 3 other checkouts serviced 9 customers each.  And it’s not like those two people had a lot of groceries, but they certainly had a lot of f@#%ing coupons, and questions and product code issues. How one person buys everything in the store without a scan-able code is just beyond me, but it happens, and it certainly slows everything down to a crawl.

So there I was standing at the back of the line; me and my happy, well-mannered toddler sitting quietly in the cart.  At least that’s how we started. We were happy. We were smiling. We were sharing a chocolate bar I took from a nearby shelf (don’t worry, I paid for it). But the line was so slow. The checkout girl, or woman, or whatever they like to be called these days, was slow (moving). She was scanning products at the speed of tree sap and forgetting to push them on to the conveyor belt so the person bagging their own produce could reach it. My daughter tried to stay in good spirits but the little girl in the cart in front of us started a staring contest with her and pissed her off. “Daddy,” she said, “why does that girl have a pacifier in her mouth? She’s a big girl?” Well, it was a valid question seeing as the kid looked like she was 5 but couldn’t have been more than 2. Unfortunately she said it loud enough for the girl’s mom to hear her. “What did your daughter just say?” she asked. “Nothing…” I said, ‘She was just admiring her pacifier.” Tempers were running high in the checkout line. I was almost at the point of having to eat another chocolate bar.

Three more people with small purchases went through.

We were now close enough to touch the magazines.

“DD, don’t touch that!” I said. “You don’t know how many dirty hands have touched that National Enquirer?” It’s not every day you have to ask your kid to keep her grubby hands off of Kim Kardashian’s breasts. “But Daddy,” she said, “I’m bored.” “Me too sweetie,” I said, “just a few more people….” And that’s when the woman behind me started up. “Why don’t you open another checkout?” she screamed to the 5 checkout operators who had no control over the situation. “You really should open another checkout!”


It was fun listening to her for five minutes until someone finally snapped and asked her to “shut the f@#% up!” (My daughter found that funny). It was even funnier watching her think of a comeback for 5 minutes (to no avail).

Another three customers went through the checkout.

I was close enough to put items on the conveyor belt, but the woman with the really big pacifier sucking baby wasn’t nice enough to pass back one of those dividing bars so I had to wait for her to move far enough up the line to reach one. And then the lady behind me started again. “Can you go faster please,” she said, “I don’t have all day?” Yeah, I had the toddler with me who hadn’t had a piss in two hours, but she was in hurry. I handed her a National Enquirer- if by handed I mean threw, and by threw I mean enough to startle her so she shut the hell up.

Two more customers went through the line. I was at the front.

It was a frantic race against time to see if I could bag all my groceries while stopping my daughter from stealing things off the shelf while wanting not to kill the checkout “girl” who still hadn’t figured out she needed to put things on the conveyor belt for me to reach them.

I finally paid. I may have gotten a chocolate bar for free. I was too tired to read through the whole bill and stand back in line if she had made a mistake. I just put my daughter’s coat back on and told we were going home. She asked to hear that guy tell the woman to “shut the hell up” again. I told her she could yell it at other drivers on the way home.

I like food. I love spending time with my little girl. And, I even enjoy grocery shopping. But f@#% do I hate checking out.

But it was fun listening to my daughter tell total strangers to shut the hell up in the car… even if they couldn’t hear her. Some days, I wish I could too.

And, just so you all know... If I was single, this story would have ended when I saw there were only 5 checkout counters open. I had less patience then.