Lane Commitment Failure

Everyone knows what it feels like to commit to Lane 5 in the grocery store-checkout line, certain that it will move quickly, when, to your chagrin, the people in Lane 6 get out faster. I call it LCF, or Lane Commitment Failure.

Today I experienced the ultimate LCF. Pork chops in hand and under a time deadline, I quickly surveyed all ten lanes at Winn Dixie before committing to Lane 10. Other lanes were at least 2 shoppers deep, so I felt secure in my decision. In hindsight, I should have been more alert to the fact that a manager was present. That really should have tipped me off to reconsider. But I realized too late that there was some kind of conflict between management and the shopper ahead of me.

To my relief, it seemed to get resolved. The manager walked away. The lady's groceries were all bagged up and in her cart. All she had to do was pay, and bada-boom, bada-bing, I'd be checked out and on my way.

Then, to my utter astonishment, she said to the cashier...and I quote, "Oh, I need to go pick me out some pepper." Before the cashier could respond, the lady squeezed herself past my daughter and me, and strolled...not rushed...strolled over to the pepper aisle, which happened to be right behind Lane 10. I turned around to watch. She was carefully perusing the spices, hand on her hip, examining each of the pepper offerings. She picked one up, looked at it, put it back, and picked up another. And then another.

About that time, a gentleman in a starched white-collar shirt plopped his groceries on the conveyor belt behind mine. He looked at me, and at the cart in front of me full of bags, and at the cashier standing there with nothing to do, since all activity in Lane 10 had effectively been shut down. "We're waiting on a lady to pick out her pepper," I explained to him. He slowly nodded, the ridiculousness of the situation registering on his face.

"I'm so sorry," said the cashier. I told her that it wasn't her fault. The four of us stood there, awkwardly. I glanced back at pepper-lady. She was still there, apparently still weighing her difficult decision between name-brand or generic.

Finally, she sauntered back to Lane 10, and, with some effort, squeezed past starched-shirt gentleman, my daughter and me. Then she thrust the pepper into the cashier's hand without so much as an apology to anyone. I managed to keep my mouth shut. I just continued to stare as the cashier rang up the item and handed the customer her receipt. Amazingly enough, cashier-girl was actually able to thank pepper lady and tell her to have a nice day.

Pepper lady snatched the receipt and made quite a show of examining it closely, frowning, as if she were suspicious that she had been mis-charged. And then, finally, to everyone's relief, she pushed her grocery cart away from Lane 10 with an air of huffy dissatisfaction.

I am not sure if she was oblivious or simply inconsiderate beyond belief, but I lean toward the latter. Either way, I felt that she should be tattled on in a Seinfeld-esque manner, even if only in cyberspace.

If the pepper lady ever ends up behind me in Lane 10, I might just remember that I need to go select a Lean Cuisine.

Those always require advanced decision-making on my part.


  1. Thanks, Jennifer.. a good read to retire for the night on!! You're too good, I'm afraid I would not have been able to wait for blogging to express my frustration...I'm not known for my patience. I started a blog, made the first entry.. and ................................
    Hugs, Jean

  2. Having just returned from the grocery store from...well...from a not nice place, I totally sympathize. I don't know what motivates me to believe that grocery shopping on a Saturday morning is a good idea. But, more power to you for being such a nice person!


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