Picking the Right checkout line at Kroger's is an art. When I'm ready to sack, pay and go I'm sure everybody in the store is thinking the same thing. Actually, there's a game theory that predicts shopping checkout behavior and I've learned that when I get that Spidey Tingle, it's time to head for the chute.
By now I know my checkers. There's the thorough, scholarly checker who's slow but sure. Never misses a code and is looking ahead for things like groups of cat food cans. Then there's the Newby they've stuck on the fast lane. Trial by fire I guess. Then there's the Old Hand.
I always go for the Old Hand for one reason: produce. The Old Hand will know the code for kumquats, South African dog chilis and that weird thing I have no idea what it is, but I bought it to throw into the chili for flavor, assuming, of course, it has any flavor.
The Old Hand will know the code for the Weird Thing and offer some commentary to liven the experience, like, "What the hell are you going to do with this?"
Today was no exception. I spotted my favorite Old Hand busily scanning cans and weighing Weird Things, his hands a blur. Although there were more carts in his lane (could it be that someone had stumbled on my secret?) I slipped into Lane 9 knowing that I'd be out in short order.
I hadn't counted on the dreaded shift change.
Just as my cart arrived at pole position, Spot Boy showed up and told Old Hand that he'd "take over." Frantically, I checked around but by this time I was trapped. Carts to the left, carts to the right and my escape back was blocked by several gum smacking amateurs who were too busy checking out the latest exploits of Britney Spears in the tabloids.
I was doomed.
Finally, Spot Boy got the register sorted out, exchanged his money tray with Old Hand who, no doubt, departed for a retirement in Tahiti, and I was up for inspection.
It was predictably slow.
Spot Boy held up a bag and asked me "What's this?"
"Carrots," I answered.