Monday, November 01, 2004

Three items only

I am not a big fan of shopping, whatever type of shopping is it. It annoys me how archaic it is to vie for a spot at some place with inadequate parking, battle crowds of other disillusioned shoppers, paw the outside of some shrink-wrapped product, wait in line to be served by a poor, unappreciated, underpaid worker, and rush home to greedily unwrap your prize. The reason you cannot complete this all in under five minutes flat is beyond me.

A few Saturdays ago with the little chicks at Blacktown I took them into Big W to buy a packet of wall anchors. Only place in that particular shopping centre where I thought I could get wall anchors was Big W. On the way Charlotte complained about her sandal rubbing and when I checked: big blister. So it was now a pack of wall anchors and a packet of bandaids. The two items were at the exact opposite corners of the store, naturally. So after locating and choosing those two little items from a myriad selection we went to the checkouts. Very busy. Two Express Lanes were open. "3 items or less," said the prominent sign in bold 50cm high letters.

I got into the shortest line, two customers in front of me. The first had four items. Two of them were the same product, so I guess it's easy to make that mistake. I would've been bitterly disappointed if she had 36 of the same item. And a lot of people probably don't understand that word: ITEM.

The next woman in line had eight items. All different. Now four might be close to three, but eight definitely isn't.

Only a little annoyed because in truth up to this point I'd only been waiting for less than a minute. I couldn't help myself though. I raised my eyebrows at Charlotte, motioned with my head towards the "Express Lane" sign and to the woman in front. "How high can you count, sweetheart?" I asked Charlotte.

Charlotte very craftily got the message, and with a big smile replied loudly, "Eight, Dad." Ah, what a wonderful, gorgeous daughter. Life is made for sharing these moments with your children.

I'm sure the woman in front stiffened, but under oath, I couldn't be certain. But what she definitely did do was divide the eight items into two piles of four and gave four of them to her daughter to take through the checkout first. When the register chick had tallied up the first four items, the woman then said, "Paying for both," and the register chick gave her a seen-it-before look and started to run the second pile over the scanner.

And then, bitter payback. The scanner gave that ominous "unknown item" beep. The register chick tried once again to the same response and then dinged the attention bell. The PA blared out the price check. I think the only reason Eight-Item Lady didn't glare triumphantly at me was because she was so annoyed herself with the five-minute wait to determine the item's price.

Twenty minutes entrance to exit! Arrrrgghhh!!

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