Still Weird at the Grocery Store

I haven’t written much lately about my morning trips to the grocery store, but I just want to check in and say that it’s still as weird as ever out there.  Today I dropped Josh off at school and popped by my customary grocery store, a quirky place we call Rehab Fred’s* (because of its proximity to Prescott’s many drug and alcohol group homes) to pick up stuff for supper.   

I had intended to get just a few things, but they were having a sale on canned beans and tomatoes.  We like chili, so this seemed like something I should say yes to – 10 cans for $10.  I got 20, which meant I couldn’t go through the self-checkout lane.  It was a risk, I took it, and there I was, in line for Mr. Grumpy, my least favorite cashier, when a new lane opened up.  “I can take you on 5,” a different checkout guy said.   He was refreshingly normal, cheerful and polite.  The bagger, however, was just odd.  Picture the actor, Jack Black, except less mentally stable.

“Do you have your Fred’s card?” 

“I’m just going to do the Alt ID,” I said.  There is a button on the credit card reader; you click that and then type in your phone number. 

A voice rang out from the other end of my cart, where the bagger was loading up the groceries.  “ALT ID!”

I didn’t really know how to respond, so I just kind of smiled. 

The cashier kept scanning my many cans of Bush’s pinto, red kidney, and cannellini beans (Bush’s is gluten-free, an essential tidbit of knowledge if you’ve got someone with celiac disease in the house, as we do). 


Oh, God.  Please stop now.  I smiled and desperately made zero eye contact by rummaging in my purse.  The cashier was done, but I didn’t slide my card yet.

“You can go ahead and sign,” he said. 

“I was waiting for the blue lights on the thing,” I said.  You know how when you slide your card, you’re supposed to wait for these flashing blue lights?  Anyway, that’s how these machines work around here, and if you slide your card before the blue lights, you end up having to do it again.


bananasThe Thing, a movie starring James Arness.  Thing, the disembodied hand in the Addams Family.  It was early morning, and I hadn’t fully caffeinated yet, and I couldn’t think of the words, “credit card reader.”  Yes, I said “thing.”  A little understanding would not be out of place here.

The cashier pushed a button, the blue lights flashed, I slid the card, I signed my name, and was just ready to be handed that receipt so I could get out of there.


I truly had no idea what to say, so I just got my receipt and scurried away, that same awkward smile on my face.

©Janet Farrar Worthington

*I changed the name of the grocery store.