Hardy Plumbing
April 20, 2011

The Supermarket Checkout Guy From Hell

I don't dislike going to the supermarket, but certain aspects of shopping have really begun to get to me.

I dutifully clip store coupons. When they come in the Sunday papers they are all neat and shiny and you carefully cut them out with scissors like when you were in kindergarten.

But by the time you actually get to the check out guy – provided you even remember to take them, which most of us don't – they've been transformed. You reach into your pocket and pull out this shredded, wrinkly moist soggy pile. It looks like a well used tissue. You try to unfold it and mumble, "I have a coupon" like you're presenting a late note to your nun in the second grade.

Then you have to contend with the Checkout Guy From Hell.

"Hey, it says $1 off the Dannon yogurt."

"That was only the low fat peach Dannon Yogurt!"

"But the coupon doesn't say that!"

"You'll have to go see the manager"

Uh-Oh. The manager is supposedly back there in the office somewhere, behind the 800 cartons of cigarettes. There are 40 Latinos on line waiting to wire money to the motherland and a lady with big hair and eyeglasses behind steel bars. She has a ribbon or something attached to her eyeglasses that goes down to her waist. She chews gum and manages to make a clicking noise every third chew that is unique to courtesy counter women at supermarkets. No one has ever actually seen a supermarket manager. He's like Big Foot.

"Excuse me, can I talk to the manager?"

"You have to wait your turn!" she snaps.

Back to the Checkout Guy I go. There was a Two For One sale on packages of chopped meat. Normally I stay away from deals like that, like 12 packages of bacon for 12 bucks. That's a sucker play right there -- you spend 12 bucks, drop dead after you eat two packages and your kids inherit the rest of the bacon.

But two for one chopped meat I can do, I'm thinking. I can make meatballs, I can make meatloaf, I can make chili, I can make tacos, I can sprinkle some on the yogurt . . .

Then he charges me for both packages.

"Wait a second," I say. "They're two for one."

"No they're not," Checkout Guy From Hell sneers.

I tell the guy there are like, 800 packages of chopped meat in the case. Right in the very middle is a sign that clearly states "Two For One." No dice.

"Grapefruit juice is 2 for one if you want that."

"I don't like grapefruit juice it makes my mouth pucker."

"You want 12 packs of bacon? No? Then go see the manager."

Then it's time to scan the rest of my stuff. He scans each item like he is memorizing the label. To your left and right you hear the checkout people scanning and bagging with one motion: "bleep" goes the scan, "plop" into the bag. "Bleep, plop," "bleep, plop."

My guy is holding a jar of green olives and hasn't scanned a single thing. What is it he wants to know? If he's looking for the name of that red stuff inside the green olives, hell, no one knows that. It's classified information. If they tell us they have to kill us.

My rage increases ten fold when its time to check out the produce. Each item has a little code, which all the other checkout people have memorized. Tardo Check Out guy knows none of them. He puts a tomato down to weigh it and turns to the booth next to him.

"Hey Shirley! What's this?" he asks, holding it up.

"It's a ta-may-da," she shouts back.

"Is it a cherry ta-may-da?" he shouts.

"It's a ta-may-da," she shouts back.

"Is it a plum ta-may-da?"

"It's a ta-may-da," she shouts back.

"Why didn't ya say so!" he finally says.

Next up is a pear.

"Is this a broccoli pear?" Tardo Check Out guy yells. That's it. I don't need produce after all. Let's proceed to checkout.

This is ehere every checkout person enjoys their little moment in the sun. It is that place where they are the undisputed authority, the master of the universe.

I swipe my credit card. "Press the green button," he always says quickly.

I know that! I went to Catholic school, for Christ's sake!

"Hit debit or credit. Sign your name," he always says.

I know how to do it! I don't need instructions!

So this time I scan, hit the green button, push credit, and sign all in one whirling motion.

"Press the . . ."

"I already did Craphead! I hit the freaking thing five times already! I also hit credit and signed my name. Ha!"

The guy short circuits. "Hit the but . . . you have to umm sign . . ." he stutters.

There! I've done it! I bested Checkout Guy From Hell at his own game!

I feel better about myself, and I head for the exit. But wait -- the cart won't move. It has stiff wheel, the one points in a different direction from the other three.

Checkout Guy From Hell always gets the last laugh.

If he's looking for the name of that red stuff inside the green olives, hell, no one knows that.

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