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Examiner
  • Jason Offutt: Look sharp, don't be 'that guy'

  • The person stood in the middle of the aisle, her grocery cart at an angle that, if it were a car on any American highway, it would signify the aftermath of a serious accident.

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  • The person stood in the middle of the aisle, her grocery cart at an angle that, if it were a car on any American highway, it would signify the aftermath of a serious accident.
    I pulled behind her and, like most motorists, she had no idea I was there. Why aren’t shopping carts equipped with horns? I imagine for moments like this. She may have punched me in the nose.
    I tried to pull around her, caught a dangling display of chili seasoning with the edge of my cart and dumped the little packets all over the floor.
    “Oh, I’m sorry,” said the lady, who is probably very nice under most circumstances (not this one). She plucked a can of stewed tomatoes from the shelf and moved to some other aisle, not bothering to help me pick up the mess.
    I’m glad I hadn’t run into a display of pickles.
    There are few things in life that frustrate me more than grocery shopping. I think being stuck in traffic is probably up there, as is standing in line at the convenience store behind a person buying cigarettes and lottery tickets. It’s not the cigarettes and lottery tickets that bother me; it’s the fact that the person usually has to scratch the tickets while I wait to pay for one item that’s usually beer. And I really, really want to get out of there.
    Grocery shopping frustrates me for the following reasons:
    1) There are people.
    2) At some point every one of them is going to get in my way.
    3) At least one of these people will hold up my line by filling out a check after the cashier rings up the total. It’s like until this point they never realized they had to pay.
    4) A person with a full cart is always in front of me at the 12-items-or-fewer line.
    I checked off my grocery list. Milk, yogurt, spinach (fresh, not canned – that stuff is nasty), apples, chicken, ingredients for chili, lasagna, and a few items that may, or may not, be the aforementioned beer. Good, I was finished.
    I wheeled my cart to the front of the store. Lanes two, three, and four were packed at least three deep. Lanes five through eight were, of course, unmanned. Lane one … uh, 12 items or fewer.
    “It’s OK,” the cashier said, nodding to me.
    I suddenly felt guilty. I had at least 25 items. Would I be “that guy” and clog up the fast lane?
    “Come on,” she said. Yeah, I guess I would be.
    I wheeled up to the cashier and started piling my more than 12 items on the counter.
    Page 2 of 2 - “It really frustrates me when someone comes through this lane with more than 12 items,” I told her. “I usually don’t do this.”
    “Then why did you start today?” a voice said from behind me.
    What? Where did they come from? Three people now stood behind me. One with a half gallon of milk, one with a bag of apples, and the other with a Coke. That’s it. Just a Coke.
    I actually was that guy.
    Follow Jason Offutt on Twitter @TheJasonOffutt.
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