Thursday, February 21, 2008

One of Us is Obsessed

So there I was, standing in line at Walmart, my cart about half full. I can pretty much predict that my line will be the one that moves at a snail's pace, because, well, my line is always the one that moves slower than the others. Call it a gift or talent. I don't know.

With 2 people in front of me, naturally, I picked up a magazine and started to read the articles. (Something about Valerie Bertinelli not liking publicity. Uh -huh. Because if I don't like publicity, the first thing I always do is pose for a weight loss company in my bathing suit. - but anyway...)

After reading the whole article, it occurred to me that the line hadn't moved once the whole time I'd been reading. Not even a little bit.

And as I began to watch the cashier, I determined that she was - and I SWEAR to you this is true - sorting through the belt-full of purchases, and scanning things in a particular order. She would sift through the items, moving things around to find what she wanted, then pick up one item to scan, bag it, and start moving things around on the belt to sort through and find the box or bag she felt needed to be next across the scanner.

I have never seen anything like it. She wasn't trying to bag all the produce together, or anything like that. She acted like she wasn't really sure what she was looking for - picking up something to scan, then deciding against it, setting it down, and moving things around to find the very best item to scan next.

I looked at the woman who had been standing at the paying station for the past, I don't know, 10 minutes? And she was open mouthed and sort of glassy-eyed, watching the cashier. So was #2 lady in line. #2 lady couldn't even unload the things from her cart, because the belt was not moving. See, there were about 10 Koolaid packets at the front of the belt, that for whatever reason had been deemed unworthy to scan - so far. So there they sat, forcing everything else to stay in it's same place.

Finally the Koolaid packets got their turn, so lady #2 was able to start unloading. She threw me several - "can you believe this?" looks. and I was so fascinated trying to figure out the puzzle of Why Things Were Being Chosen, that I couldn't do anything but shrug.

I think it had something to do with size, but also color. Because there were many items that were purple that were passed over as the cashier would strain to reach the items farther away from her. I noticed that even after she finally decided to scan the Koolaid, the purple packets went decisively last.

And so it went with lady #2.

I was #3.

While I watched this worker do the exact same procedure to scan lady #2's purchases, I went through this whole parade of emotions.
Fascination
Puzzlement
Annoyance
Pity
Extreme Annoyance

and then?

A little Thrill!

Because it occurred to me what a great blog post this would be. I spent the next 10 minutes watching the cashier sort and scan - picking up one thing to scan, rejecting it back to the pile, and then finding something else - and the whole time I was writing and rewriting my blog post. It was all I could think about. You know, about being obsessed and everything.

I'm still not sure I have this post the way I want it, but dangit, that lady finished checking my stuff out before I was done with all the rewrites in my head.

SO I put some final touches on it as I drove home and rewrote the first few lines again as I unpacked my bags, carefully sorted by item size and color. (I think.)


... I just can't imagine being that obsessed with something.

34 comments:

Yvonne said...

And it would be a contest if I was at the same Wal-Mart, because I really think I'M THE ONE WHO CHOOSES THE SLOWEST LINE!!!

I'm so disappointed that you didn't go back home and get your camera and take pictures ; )

You are a much more patient woman than I am, but then again, it did make for a great post.

Ashley said...

I guess cashier is NOT a good career choice if you have OCD. I think I would have been intrigued and stayed as well (if I was not with my kids). Peculiar people usually spark my interest. As for finding the slowest line in Wal-mart, I too have that special gift.

I just popped over from Yvonne's blog. :0)

kristen said...

Love this post for two reasons. 1) Hilarious story. Although, when I'm at Walmart I want out ASAP, and that chic would have driven me NUTS. But that is so curious, nonetheless. I think OCD is an understatement. And #2 reason is that I do stuff like this ALL the time.....thinking of how certain things will make a good blog post. I even write and rewrite in my head; sometimes it doesn't seem to turn out as well as my original mental draft, but hey, it works. Consider me fellow obsessed blogwriter.

East of Eden said...

You should have asked her what she was doing, that would have made this great blog post even better!

As for Walmart...we always time our time in the line with a stopwatch and then take bets with the people in line! It's great.

If you want to know the secret, try and get in a line where the cashier is wearing a red vest. Red vests at walmart mean fast cashier...my SIL, who is now a manager of a Walmart tells me so.

Heidi said...

Whoa. I came to leave a comment, but now I'm so stunned to discover I should be looking for red-vested cashiers, I can't remember what I was going to say.

Except I obsess, too. Just not about bagging groceries. Or housework. Or parenting. Or anything important. But my bookshelves are impeccable.

The MomBabe said...

Well, kudos for not snapping at her. I'd have gone ballistic on her slow patootie.

Heather said...

PSYCHO!

The MomBabe said...

Oh yeah, and I worked at Wal-Mart a LONG TIME AGO. The red vests are the "star cashiers" who have the most items scanned per hour. :)

Cynthia said...

I got in the self-check line at Walmart and just as I was far enough in the line to be committed (can't leave and start over in another line), I realized the man at the check-out station was paying for a $38.00 purchase with a shoebox full of change!!! The machine would say 'Please insert payment' and he inserted Nickel, Nickel, Quarter, Penny, Penny, Penny, Penny, Quarter, Dime, Nickel, Dime, Quarter, Nickel. Everyone at that end of the store was passing around the "can you believe this guy?" look, except for the ones who weren't actually in that line. They were passing around the "can you believe that guy? whew - glad I'm not behind him like you pitiful people are!" look.
btw - you write a fun blog. I ran into by chance.

Tori :) said...

Ok- that's a little strange. I admit I unload my basket in a kind of organized fashion so that freezer things are together, cereals are together, etc.. and I would have been really annoyed with this cashier for messing up my "system." :)
Blogging helps make ALL situations better. :)

Make and Takes said...

It is always a race to see if I chose the right line to get in at Walmart. I never win!! Then I think that I should have chosen the self check line and then I am posed with about 20 different problems with that system and it is never the right choice. So I am usually hiding a few items under my cart to make it look like I only have 20 items so I can hit the Under 20 line!! It is always, always the fastest.

Make and Takes said...

P.S. I too will blog in my head while I am in line. It helps the time pass. But the problem is remembering the great line I had in my head at the store.

Sheyenne said...

Oh my word. I definitely would have switched lines or said something to the cashier. That would drive me INSANE.
Also, since we're talking about things that drive a person insane at Walmart (are we? can I?), these are mine: People who go to self-check with a cart full of groceries. Seriously, that is not what those lanes were meant for. OR people with only a couple of things that go to self-check when they obviously do not know how to use the machine. URGH! And ALSO? (Sorry Make and takes)- people who get in the express lane with too much stuff. It slows the rest of us who actually only need a couple of things way down. Drives me bonkers!

Jill said...

I don't like Wal Mart, and yet, I keep going back there.
No mattter what line I get in, there's always something that will happen to make it the longest wait possible. Usually after I've already loaded all my items on the conveyor belt.
I remember one time when the lady in front of me didn't give the cashier enough money for her purchases, and didn't speak enough english and couldn't understand what the cashier was saying.
Cashier: You still need to give me $13.74
Lady: smiles and nods
Cashier: You didn't give me enough money, you still owe $13.74
Lady: smiles and nods
Her daughter finally explained that she needed to give her more money, so she gave her $5.00.
Cashier: Thanks, now I only need $8.74............

It took forever to clear that up.

I'ts nice to know that I'm not the only one who spends the day writing blog posts in my head.
Now I feel less weird:0)

Jill said...

Also, Thanks SO much for the award you gave me!
It really made my day!(On a day that I really needed it)
Jill

Melissa said...

Honestly, the first thing I thought as I was reading was "That sounds like something that someone with Autism would do... ". My Little Bug has an order that he does things each and every time. I'm glad you didn't say anything to her... I'm sure it was frustrating, but, I can't help but think that it's something more than just being picky!
Your story does remind me of a time at Wal-Mart (of course) where the cashier looked at every item. Scanned it and then would comment "I didn't know this was only that much! How much fat is in there?" and then she'd read the nutrition labels... fun, eh?

Jenny said...

Wow you are so nice. I would have ditched the line after 5 minutes. And now I know....RED VESTS ONLY! :)

Lauren said...

Are kidding me?! That is the funniest thing I have ever heard or read? haha. I would have slyly taken out my phone and video taped the whole thing...just for blog proof...ya know, not like I am obsessed or anything. Not me.

"Vern" said...

I'm sure that in her head she was singing, "Let's Give 'Em Somthing To Blog About..." and only thinking of you. What a nice OCD cashier.

Tami Vincent said...

I missed your blog while we were in Sunny California. So glad I can read it again. I just love the lines at Wal-Mart. I have that talent also. I cant believe that. I think that I would have gone back through and messed up what she did. That would have been hilarious.

momof3crazykids said...

I am like Tori, I unload my basket with like items together, only to make it easier on me when I get home to put stuff away. I also put the cold stuff together so that they stay cold longer. I guess it's an OCD thing but I don't think it's as bad as the cashier's.

Earl said...

I like to write about the goofy things my kinderteners say and do. Sometimes I have to stop, run over to my desk, write something down so I'll remember, then go back to teaching.......

No Cool Story said...

"I think it had something to do with size, but also color"

YAY!!! What an awesome bloggable moment! Success! Fame! Awesomeness!

Now, if you could somehow tape all this...oh my friend...we are talking "Legendary Blog", we are talking Glory and Excellency.

Two Princess Girls said...

It's funny how blogging can help you slow down and appreciate the funny moments in life. Plus, you can learn great tips like looking for the red star sporting cashiers from here on out :).

Marilyn said...

Why do the cashiers do that? It DRIVES ME NUTS....The belt won't move unless they take the closest thing to the end and of course they are rambling around and you are standing there with a handful of lettuce, tortillas, broccoli, mac and cheese, waiting for the line to move...arrgggh..... You said it perfectly...... and great tip about the red vests...

sogratefultobemormon.wordpress.com said...

you're too cute to make a blog post about this. i had a similiar experience when i was trying to get on base so i could go to work. there were two lines to get through the guard shack and mine didn't move forever. i was so late to work! i was just staring numb. couldn't believe it. but i was stuck in my line with the cars behind me, so i couldn't get in the worthy line. that doesn't usually happen but your post made me think of it again.

take care randi,
kathleen

Tonya said...

I thought I was the only one that had the special talent of choosing the slowest checkers EVER. Good to know that I'm not alone.

P.S. Can you say O.C.D.?

Corrine said...

Ok that is funny, weird funny, and i love how your obsession with blogging enabled you to take a rather painful moment into a fun read :)

Doran & Jody said...

Maybe Donny Osmond offended her or something. Hmm. Should have got the picture of the grocery bags before you unloaded. Maybe it was Drug awareness day...or is that red??

Stacey said...

I just pop over to say hello and I find out the "red vest" secret! If you only knew how long I have searched for a tip to getting out of Wal-Mart faster!

Thanks for commenting on my blog! :)

Nancy Face said...

I'm with Tori...those cashiers better not mess up my "system!"

I blog in my head, too! Haha! :D

elasticwaistbandlady said...

This is why obsessive compulsive tendency people should not focus on a career as a cashier.

elasticwaistbandlady said...

Ooops, I just saw Ashley said the same thing!

You know how things sort of "speak to you?" Maybe the items were speaking to the cashier and were saying "Pick me! Pick me!" So, she picjed them up first because the other ones didn't seem to want it as bad.

There. Did that redeem my unoriginal comment?

Whitney said...

Oooooh man. I would have been just like you, at first annoyed, but seriously, now I look for the weird, akward, out of the ordinary things so that I can post about them! I guess blogging makes you more optimistic? :) ha ha I'm just curious as to what order she actually put everything in...