On a recent shopping trip to Haggen Market in Ferndale, Washington, my partner Tim and I did our usual routine – he goes one way to do his shopping, I go my own way to do mine and we meet up beyond the registers to await one another when complete.

This particular day I had a number of things on my list, including several items from the bulk food section. As I headed for check out the lines were quite long and I was pondering which one to join when a store employee tapped me and guided me to use the ‘Express Lane’ (9 items or less) since it was open. I pointed to my cart and though it was obvious, mentioned that I had many more items than that. She just nodded and said, “I know. No problem. Head on over.”

So against my better judgment (I tend to be quite rule conscious at least in these type situations), I went to this aisle. A gentleman was just finishing paying and I was next. Just then another man walked up behind me carrying only his lunch. I asked if he would like to go in front of me and he said no. Feeling quite out of place now, I just did my best to breathe and remember, “SHE told me to get into this line. And she WORKS HERE.” I did explain this to the cashier when she eyed my cart, and she just smiled and shrugged her shoulders as if to say, “Well, whatever.” Now as she began ringing things up, including WEIGHING the bulk items, the line had now morphed into at least five folks waiting, all with just 2 or 3 things to buy. I SO wanted to run up and down the line and screaming, “THEY TOLD ME TO STAND HERE!!”

Now… it gets even better. In my attempt to overcome my discomfort, I began to chat. With the cashier, the man behind me, etc etc. Just about now, Tim was on his way to another check out line and noticed a woman in the express aisle who appeared to have way too many items for this line. (He only saw the top of my head and didn’t yet know it was me.) Thinking to himself, “Well how rude. Can’t she see this is for a quick check out? Guess the world revolves around HER.” THEN he noticed it was ME!! And was quite taken aback. “Wow,’ thought he, “I’m really surprised she would do that.”

OK. Now. Finally. All checked out and paid up and meeting up with Tim. He kind of looked at me funny and while I noticed that, I was MUCH too anxious to explain to him what JUST HAPPENED TO ME. Total discomfort and embarrassment.

After sharing my experience, we just looked at each other and burst out laughing!!! Relief on my part that I was finally out of there… Relief on his part that his partner wasn’t capable of such blatantly rude behavior.

SO. Next time you witness what you BELIEVE to be the truth of a situation, stop, take a breath, and remember, things aren’t ALWAYS as they appear to be.

(And next time someone offers me the ‘gift’ of standing in an express lane with my full cart, I will politely decline.)

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