Our neighborhood Safeway is known among the locals as the black hole of hell. Long lines. Grouchy employees. No carts. No where to park. Even as a generally calm person, I’ve given up my groceries and stormed out of the place due to wait times that were pushing me past my curfew.
But it’s close. And if you go really early, it’s usually not a terrible experience.
I was there today at roughly 7:30 AM. Everything was cool. Every item on my list was accounted for—with a dozen pink roses to boot. Feeling good about the world, I noticed Lane #9 had no waiting. I pulled in and started to unload.
Soon the feeling of discontent and irritation around me was thick. An older gentlemen behind me heavily sighed as I stacked two twelve packs on the conveyor belt to accompany the cornucopia of products rolling down the line.
A couple appeared behind him. They began a loud conversation about the lines at the store and how people needed to pay more attention. It felt personal. Was I doing something wrong?
More people began to gather as I emptied the last few things from my Saturday morning shipping spree. One ten-pound bag of Charcoal and we’re done.
On my way to the door, I pulled the cart around and my perspective changed. That’s when I saw the “Express Lane” sign hanging from the ceiling. Somewhat hard to see from where I’d entered, it was blatantly obvious as I was about to exit.
I was that guy. And I was completely oblivious to my violation—even while a large group of people stood back and entertained themselves with graphic fantasies of killing me slowly with butter knifes. I didn’t catch on until the very end.
I apologized to the checker and the guy behind me. I genuinely wished someone would’ve said something. I walked back out to the car feeling like a prick when I realized I’d just had the least painful trip to Safeway ever. Jesus. They don’t call it the express lane for nothing.
I don’t think I’ve ever made this mistake before. And I swear I’ll never make it again. Really. But sometimes being an unintentional asshole can make life as we know it just a little easier to live.