Rants from the Grocery Check-out Lane

Accept this as true: No matter which grocery check-out lane you pick, the other lanes will move faster.  So while you are waiting, why not stock up on some patience and compassion? These commodities languish on the shelves because too few people use them regularly.

That frazzled check-out clerk didn’t get any sleep last night because she was taking care of a sick child.

So no, she is not at her sharpest and fastest right now.  When she said “Hello, how are you?” as she is required to do under the corporate protocol, you could have responded with something nicer than a glare.

Did you notice the elderly lady ahead of you who needed extra time to find her coupons and loose change?   Of course you did, that’s when you stomped your foot in exasperation. That woman is on a fixed income. Her ability to shop very frugally determines whether she can buy medicine this month.

Remember that old gentleman who was so slow in placing his groceries on the conveyor belt?  His arthritis has been very painful this week. I saw you roll your eyes when he asked the clerk to write out his check. Guess what? He is in the early stages of dementia, but he doesn’t know that yet. All he knows is that sometimes it’s hard to remember which store he is in and how to spell “twenty.” And he doesn’t like to be publicly embarrassed any more than you do.

Who are these people that strangers find oh-so-annoying? They are my mother, your grandfather, their neighbor’s relative and someone’s best friend.  Someday, that slow and vulnerable person will be you.  Accept this as true: If you want to receive patience and compassion in the future, you’d be wise to fill your emotional grocery cart with more sugar and less vinegar today.



  1. Very insightful, compassionate and thought provoking.

  2. So true! Sometimes people need to step back and see the bigger picture, not just the three minutes they have been inconvenienced.

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