So my company had its big holiday party last week but my department isn’t having ours until Tuesday. It was actually supposed to be this week but our company president is visiting from Australia which means no food at our desks and definitely no drunken debauchery at noon on a workday. So it’s been postponed. I didn’t know that two days ago when I went grocery shopping for ingredients for my cheesecakes, so there I am Monday at ShopRite buying some cream cheese, some graham crackers, condensed milk, evaporated milk, oh and I forgot, the cold weather is bringing some unwanted guests into the house so I need to get some rat traps and poison. No problem. I’m already here anyways. I get up to the counter and I’m placing my items down and the picture perfect what you’d imagine as like, your stereotypical super happy holiday cashier is ringing me up.
‘Ooh, looks like someone’s making some cheesecake tonight!’
‘Huh? Oh uh, yeah. Hahah. Office party.’
‘Well isn’t that lovely?!’
RAT POISON…long pause…*beeeeeeeeeeeep*
She’s staring at me.
‘I uh…I don’t like them very much.’
Was that a bit much? Hahah. I got a great kick out of it. You see the secret is in the eye contact. You must maintain unbroken eye contact the entire time. Just stare deep into their sockets and watch them process the story in their mind.
I used to be so self-conscious at checkout counters. Maybe that’s just an unfortunate side effect of being young and insecure. You feel like the eyes of the world are upon you. When it was time for me to start buying condoms (safety first, kids) I used to have to go to stores outside of my town for fear of running into someone I knew. God forbid something went wrong with the price scan and they’d have to announce over the speakers for a price check for the sexual deviant in aisle 5. I say you’re not really a grown up until you can find yourself standing in a CVS line at midnight in your sweatpants with condoms, a can of Cheez Whiz, and a single roll of toilet paper and approach the cashier without batting an eye. Nowadays I want someone to run into me and see me buying these things because hell, hey at least it says I’m having a good time tonight! You sometimes wonder if they even notice or if they would say anything even if they did.
I did a little search online on my favorite source of internet shenanigans if anyone had ever experienced something like this, either on purpose or by accident. I wanted to share with you some of the stories I found. These are all from users on an internet sharing website, reddit.
‘Condoms, then realised he didn’t want them and went to put them back. Came back with rubber bands and cling film.’
‘Doughnuts, doughnut holes and white glue. I would stare at the cashier with a crazy smile.’
‘Go in with a beard. Buy shaving cream, a shaving brush, razor, aftershave, and then a fake beard.’
‘While I worked in a 24hr pharmacy a customer came in at 2:30am and purchased a mop, bleach, ammonia, gloves, garbage bags, zip ties, duct tape and condoms.’
Obviously the point here is that every single day, grown men and women are walking up to checkout lines with tragically misunderstood assortments of items but every single one of them has been able to ring up and go on with their lives. Now I would hate to imagine what a young, teenaged version of me would have thought of having to even attempt queuing up with so much as a cucumber and a jar of mayo.
Maybe we could turn this into a game, you know? Try and come up with the strangest, most misleading, possibly illegal combination of items one can purchase at a grocery store and see what happens when you try to get a cashier to ring you up. Every New Year’s my family and friends do a gag gift grab bag and one year I went to the grocery store to buy two oranges, a kielbasa, and some cottage cheese. It was exactly as it looked like. Get creative. Try to tell a story. Leave enough clues for the cashier to get through this conundrum.
Life’s too short and we are thankfully too unimportant to worry or fear that any of our actions will have some crazy significant lasting impact. A little bit of silliness and embarrassment, whether on purpose or not, at the register is nothing to break a sweat about. I think one of the greatest lessons we can learn as we get older is that no one is looking at us. There’s a great moment when the burdens of the world are lifted off of your shoulders and you realize that you are in control of your actions and that everyone you worried was watching you and judging you is too busy living their own lives to worry about yours. So go out there and you do you, but if the eyes of the world do ever happen to fall upon you, make sure you give them a good show.
Man: 131 Loneliness: 28