Infiltration alert

I am regularly regaled with supermarket stories — I’ve told a few myself over the years — but this one is new to me:

I wheel the little cart up to the only checkout with a human in it. I recognize her of course; she works evenings. I’m still expecting things to go as usual at this point, because I haven’t figured it out yet. I’m the only one who hasn’t figured it out. Why is she just standing there? Staring down with a frown?

We are both still and silent for a moment.

“Oh no,” she says.

I’m still wondering why she isn’t checking out groceries. And then she drops a truth bomb that will reverberate in my brain ’till the end of my days:

“This is not our cart.”

This must be a Really Big Deal indeed, though it occurs to me that people wander through stores with canvas bags of unknown provenance every day, and so far as I know, not a word is said about it.


  1. McGehee »

    7 June 2013 · 4:32 pm

    …so she tells me the total and I reach into my pocket, start sorting the cash, frown, say, “Oh, no,” and tell her, “This isn’t my money.”

  2. fillyjonk »

    7 June 2013 · 5:01 pm

    Were I in that kind of situation (and I’ve been in vaguely similar ones) it would make me wish I were the kind of person who could randomly and suddenly burst into tears in public. I think bursting into floods of (crocodile) tears and profusely apologizing for the sheer WRONGNESS of having selected the wrong cart, might just shock people into realizing just how….well, how petty such a thing is.

  3. Tatyana »

    8 June 2013 · 5:32 am

    That cart might be a good litmus test, for “knowing your neighbor”. So far all reactions are different – from original author to FJ. My own, I’m afraid, would be rather boring: I’ll simply point out irrelevance of employees’ observation. Looking directly into their faces, and no attempts of small talk, let alone irony.

  4. Mark Alger »

    8 June 2013 · 7:33 am

    Guy writes pretty. But the subject matter …? M’eh. Although, I might say a store that allows a competitor’s cart anywhere NEAR its premises is inadequately patrolled. But then, I do live in Kroger’s home town, where, as has been observed, grocers do have to raise their game a bit.


  5. CGHill »

    8 June 2013 · 11:33 am

    Getting an interesting story out of the most mundane circumstances is a quality I have long admired. (See, for instance, almost anything by David Sedaris.)

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