… all it takes is offering for her to go in front of you.
It all started with a basketful of groceries that was tiptoeing the boundaries of being express-lane worthy or in need of the conveyor belt treatment. You know how it can be a difficult decision in these situations… we have all ummed and ahhed about whether our shopping load can truly be "expressed" by the pimply nosed schoolkid behind the till, or whether we will incur the wrath of all those people who just bought toilet paper. Anyway.
Since I was in a foreign Woolies, in a suburb I was only just becoming acquainted with, I decided to toe the line of caution and jumped behind a couple of massive trolleys, hopefully filled to feed families of 5 or more. Cos that skinny little lady sure didn’t look like she was going to eat all those Fruit Rollups and Coco Pops on her own.
But then, a Woolies man comes up to me and tells me I should go to the express line, because it’s not very busy. So I followed his directions, pleased at validation that my basket was not excessively overburdened with junk I didn’t really need.
So while waiting in the express line, the queue behind me all of a sudden swelled. And a woman, who would have been in her mid to late 60s, started griping extremely loudly to her middle aged son (who looked like his spirit had well and truly been broken by her nagging already).
"I can’t believe this! All these people in the express line with full baskets. I’ve only got two things! It’s so unbelievably rude! Do you know once I got told off for bringing a trolley in here but it’s not fair because I can’t carry a really full basket like these young things…"
At that point, I could feel my back being pointed at. The son seemed to murmur in agreement like he had heard this spiel a million times before. Like every time he had been to the supermarket in the last 10 years.
"I’m going to complain. It’s ridiculous. I can’t believe how ridiculous it is! How very rude…" and so on.
As I was nearly at the front of the line, and I really didn’t care for any more of a guilt trip with my groceries, I turned to her, switched on the saccharine, and asked if she would like to go in front of me. I thought this would work a treat, it’s the ultimate old lady pleaser.
"Would you like to go in front of me since you only have two things *bat eyelashes*"
She looked at me with an evil death glare as if I just expressed my real thoughts, which went something along the lines of "shut up you miserable old cow".
"You shouldn’t be in this line. There are more than 15 things in your basket. How dare you be so rude?"
I didn’t let it show that I was completely taken aback by her bitchy response.
"Well, I was lined up over there, but then one of the staff told me to come here, so I just did what I was asked to do. Would you like to go in front? I don’t mind."
By now I could feel the whole express line tuning into our dialogue. I felt that they were on my side.
"I’ve been waiting and waiting and you think this will solve anything?"
In my head, the answer to this question was "no, it won’t solve anything. You will still be a sad bitch that can’t comprehend that going to supermarket on a Sunday afternoon means you will have to wait in line for a few minutes. If you can’t hack it, shop at 7am in the morning. And it’s really bloody rude to bitch audibly about people standing next to you when you have made no attempt to properly assess their decency or understand their difficult shopping basket dilemma. Bitch."
Instead, I said: "Well, most people don’t mind if you ask politely to go in front of them if you only have a couple of things and are in a real hurry. It’s always so busy on a Sunday, I understand it’s annoying to wait when you just need to grab something quickly. *insert kind smile* There’s a register free there."
"No. Go." she said grumpily. The son looked really embarrassed.
So I did, and then I fled the store quickly as possible. The grumpy granny was demanding to speak to the manager. And if that’s the kind of agro she dished out in the express lane, I didn’t want to run into her in the car park.