Tuesday, October 23, 2012

No One Puts Baby In A Binder (Or In The Express Lane With Too Many Items)

I am rarely a candidate for the express lane at the grocery store, so when given the opportunity, I take it quite seriously.  Apparently, I’m not alone.

I was just in an express lane paying for a single item.  There was one man in line behind me with a hand basket of Old Spice deodorant, butter, iceberg lettuce, wet cat food and canned soup.  I remember the items so well because I counted them, as did the clerk, although her reaction was markedly different from mine.

If words could kill, she used a sharp “10 things or less” as if it were Chinese water torture.

I didn’t want to turn and watch their awkward interaction, just like no one wants to turn and look at a nasty car accident.  Meaning, I looked anyway, silent with dropped jaw.  I heard Dora the Explorer’s voice counting in my head, like all mothers of toddlers do, as she sang “… ocho, nueve, diez”!

Then, the moment of truth.  I was straggling (or being nosey) as he placed an eleventh item on the belt.  My stomach turned as the Dora in my head mumbled, “… once”.

What happened next was almost theatrical, and reminiscent of a famous 80’s movie scene where the bully flips a geek’s lunch tray and the room goes freakishly still.

I admit that I have spent an abnormally long time thinking about this moment, but with good cause.  Election Day is right around the corner, and social media has become overrun with rude and angry people trying to force their position, their ethical code and their ability to click “like” on a pointless meme designed not to inform but entertain.  To me, this is nothing but a misguided waste of energy.

There was no one in line behind the man with eleven items.  He wasn’t holding anyone up nor doing any harm.  Maybe he truly miscounted his items.  Maybe he was in a rush to tend to his sick cat (I’m assuming he was single, due to the aforementioned cat food).  Maybe it was ignorance, or even deliberate defiance that brought him to the express lane that day.  But either way, who gives a shit?

As I exited the store, I wished I had grabbed the eleventh item and paid for it myself.  I’m tired of seeing people on the attack.  I’m tired of seeing people berate instead of educate others.  We need to get back to a team mentality.  This picture sums it up perfectly for me… 

My advice?  Don't get caught in the a-hole.  We needn’t agree with everything others feel passionately about, but need to respect their passions, and willingness to be open about them.  Imagine how boring the word would be without that... or Mel Gibson.