My Greatest Fear #40: Having 21 Items in the “20 Items or Fewer” Checkout Lane

Yesterday I hurried through the grocery store on my way home, checking off items on my list like a professional shopper. When I arrived at the front of the store to check out, I discovered that most of the lanes were crowded, with one exception: The 20 Items or Fewer aisle.

I scanned my cart, quickly counting items. I counted about 15. Could it be? Was it worth the risk? Was today the day?

I usually have either way more than 20 items or only 1 or 2, so it was a rarity for the 20 Items or Fewer aisle to be an option. So it felt like a luxury as I took my place in line.

A luxury riddled with the fear that I had over 20 items in my grocery cart.

mystic1[1]Nervously I unloaded item after item onto the conveyor belt, counting as I went, wondering if larger items counted as more than one. As I reached the mid-teens, I discovered a whole bevvy of items covered by my canvas grocery bags. The horror. I wasn’t going to make it. There was no way.

The next few minutes played out vividly in my mind. The attendant would hit a secret button under the counter that would send Grocery Police swarming around the aisle. I’d flail desperately like Sean Penn in Mystic River as they pulled me away from my cat treats at 2-ply toilet paper, bargaining with them. “I’ll return the Hacienda salsa,” I’d scream. “It’s just a backup–I already have some at home!”

But my cries would fall on deaf ears, because the Grocery Police have their eardrums removed when they receive their badges from the Chiquita Banana School of Grocery Policemanship. They’d drag me into some dark corner of the store, some aisle that no one ever visits like the gluten-free pencil aisle (2a). There they’d punish me for my inability to count to 20, hurling obscenities at me like Eagles fans. Eventually they’d bring in the good cop/bad cop combo, something against which I have no defense.

Good Cop: Jamey, come on, it’s really not that big of a deal. You had 21 items in your cart. You were close, right? Everyone makes mistakes. Just tell us the truth about what happened and we’ll let you go home to your cats.

Bad Cop (swiping cans of gluten from the shelves): This is your home now!

And I’d give in. I’d have to. I simply love good cop/bad cop too much.

As the scenario ends in my mind, I finish my count. 17 items. 18. 19….and that’s it. 19 items. 1 under the threshold. I am victorious!

I made it. Under the judging, watchful eye of the attendant, I made it. And you can too.

Do you share this fear? Have you ever gone over the threshold? Tell us your story. It’s time the world knew the truth.