The kids and I did a pick-up grocery trip* on the way home from church yesterday.
This is my lest favorite time to go, because the kids are hungry and I’m hungry and we all just want to get home, so there’s even more whining and begging on both sides, plus the check-out lanes are usually full of other impatient, hungry people who do not appreciate having to maneuver past two acquisitive Wesson children who are poring over every single candy bar, toy, tube of lip balm, and gum pack on those maddening impulse buy shelves lining the chutes** we’re all plodding down at the combined speeds of a freshly-hired cashier who can’t tell cucumbers from zucchini from bok choy yet and and a teenage bagger who is doing his best in the face of endless lines of impatient, hungry people who are buying pineapples, glass jars, cleaning supplies, soft bread, and eggs and who all have their own Very Strong Opinions about what should go in which bags and whether gallon milk jugs and/or potatoes should or should not be bagged at all.***
I was just heading for the end of such a line yesterday, teeth already gritted over the behavior of my beloved children—who must have been raised by a pack of sugar-addicted stoats when I wasn’t looking—when I realized that our fewer than twelve items qualified us for the Express Lane, which not only featured a shorter line with marginally happier people in it, but also had no impulse buy shelves.
Sunny, who was hanging off the end of the cart in listless resentment over my repeated refusal to buy her every brightly-colored, nutritionally bereft item that crossed her field of vision, suddenly snapped upright and demanded to know why Jane always got everything she asked for. I answered indirectly by telling Jane to put the sports drink back, please, and started to unload the cart amid Sunny’s undeterred moans.^
The cashier cheerfully zapped everything through and said, “Is there anything else?”
“I don’t suppose I could return the curly-haired kid there for store credit?” I asked, fishing out my credit card.
Without missing a beat, the cashier turned to Sunny. “Smile for me,” she said.
Sunny stopped mid-moan. “What?”
“Smile, please. Just a little one.”
“I’m sorry,” the cashier told me, “but there are some teeth missing. I’ll have to call the manager.”
“Never mind,” I said, when I could catch my breath, “I guess I can wait until they grow back.”
“You have a good day, now,” the cashier said.
“Thanks,” I said, as Jane joined us. “I think we actually might.”
And we did.
*To grab the stuff I was told I’d forgotten the day before by the same people whom I had asked to look at the list before I’d gone the first time—and who had both said it looked fine to them.
**I don’t know one parent who doesn’t want to meet the marketing genius who designed that area of the store and wring his neck.
^The stoats clearly hired a howler monkey au pair. Damn them.