When I approached the checkout registers at the Shop ‘N’ Save supermarket on North Grand a few weeks ago, I saw a familiar checkout person chatting with someone who was paying her for the provisions she had just purchased. Her checkout lane light — which, had it been lit would have indicated the register was open for other customers — was dark. This happens sometimes: the employee takes a last customer before she goes on break or departs the store after working her shift. It’s not a big deal, her light was off, I knew it would be rude of me “not to see it” and present myself for checkout, fully understanding she’d probably point to the light she had turned OFF and advise me to step to register 4, the nearest lane where the “register open” light was on.
I consider myself a considerate, frequent customer, and I walked directly to register 4. As I stood in line behind two others awaiting checkout at #4, I glanced back at register 2 and found another customer being checked out! The register light was off, so I decided the woman had simply forgotten to turn it on.
As I left lane 4 another customer moved in behind me, taking my place. There would be more delay if I were wrong. There would be no turning back. And I approached register 2, whose light was still out. As I approached and made eye contact with the register person, she spoke to me, stating her register was CLOSED and I should go to another lane. Register 4 was available, she said.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I thought you were closed too, until I saw you checking out the customer who just left and your light was off. I thought you were in service after all.”
Like a good American, I returned to register 4 and breezed through checkout. But I was disappointed with the checkout person at register 2.
Walking past that person who didn’t care enough about a regular customer with four items to purchase to spend another 35 seconds being nice, I strode to the service counter which was in hearing range of the person who was closing out her register. I explained to the woman who approached me at the I wanted to register a complaint. I said very calmly that I was not fuming mad; no smoke was coming out of my ears, but I was disappointed. I explained what had happened at register 2. I said I thought that showing favoritism like I had witnessed works against the benefit of the store. I thought there was no reason for it. The checkout woman and I knew each other on sight. I would have recognized her — in the SHE: “Shop ‘N’ Save register checkout person” and ME: “chatty customer who buys a lot of deli salads, Jif Extra Crunchy and Carlo Rossi Burgundy” sense of the term — if we passed each other on a downtown sidewalk. I said there needed to be a consequence for the woman’s rudeness — which (I must concede) might have been simple absent-minded ditsiness. She had shown me that latter element of her character a few times over the years when she had checked me out. I explained it was nothing MAJOR MAJOR, and I was fairly certain the checkout person would not be told of my dis-satisfaction, so I had decided to find another regular supermarket for grocery shopping. If I could find a store I could visit regularly and be happy, I’d never come back to Shop ‘N’ Save.
So I tried. The short version is that less than a week later, I needed iced tea mix, peanut butter and Carlo Rossi. I went to the ALDI market on North Grand a few blocks east of S’N’S. Result? BARF BARF BARFOLA. So I visited the Dollar Store next door to ALDI. Result: QUADRUPLE BARFOLA. Then I visited the new County Market that opened last winter close to Memorial Medical Center. Result: more of what I experienced at ALDI and the Dollar Store. The details don’t matter. I don’t want to bash any business. One person’s ambrosia is another person’s bull droppings, and vice versa.
What to do? Lord, Lord Lordy what to do? I was determined to be as good as my word to the woman I dumped on at the service counter the week before. I had sworn to deliver my kind of JUSTICE to that market! I had the POW-wa! It was my deliverance of my political sanction against the Springfield equivalent of intransigent IRAN! I had to SHOW them! And I did. I went without wine for the next three nights and ate every kind of food I had remaining in the house until there was nothing left, not even for lunch. I did not want to drive all the way across town to make good my vow not to return. Fuel is too expensive. So is my time.
I showed them all right. I showed them my presence about a week and a half after the showdown at register 2. This “justice” I had mercilessly inflicted on a store that didn’t need my money, really, came at a price I could not afford. The price of justice was too high.
True, I will scout who’s working the checkout lanes before I commit to waiting in one, and I will be the last in a line of 10 customers before I return to my arch-nemesis with brown hair, glasses and a drawl that isn’t really a drawl at all; it’s just slow talking. I did the best I could, and I’m the better man for it.
Live long . . . . . . . and proper.