Thursday, July 22, 2004

Lowering the Bar at Supermarket Checkout's

I was unfortunate enough yesterday to bare witness to one of the more bizarre of the human social rituals yesterday in the checkout at the local supermarket while attempting to simply purchase some bagels and spread. This simple common everyday ritual is performed a zillion times a day without anyone so much as raising an eyebrow. It’s an integral action we conduct time and time again and is as socially courteous as lining up orderly to use the ATM at the bank, or excusing yourself after ripping a fart in a public theater.

All civilized human beings of the Western World * unconsciously use the little provided dividing bar to separate their groceries on the miniature conveyor belt at the local supermarket checkout. This is a socially accepted fact, one actually proven by the laws of science I’m sure. It’s every bit as a truism as is the definite law stipulating that the lesser number of items you have for purchase, the proportionately longer wait you will have to wait in line to purchase them. It’s the dividing line between order and chaos (and may also serve to explain why your Checkout Cashier has all the warm humor of a disgruntled union worker at the local CAW Hall). It’s what separates cultured man from cultureless beast just as it separates my bagels and processed cheese slices from the tines of creamed corn and frozen dinners belonging to the rube standing behind me in the checkout aisle.

Heaven’s forbid that your groceries should ever be caught indiscreetly intermingling with another complete strangers groceries; that would be just inappropriate! What would the checkout cashier think? I wouldn’t dare tarnish the good pristine reputation of my poor innocent naïve grocery items by simply allowing them to carouse with the wrong crowd. I wouldn’t want them to pick up any bad habits or infectious diseases from the uncultured tubs of margarine and bags of salted chips belonging to someone else as I couldn’t very well vouch for their good virtue of character (not to mention their choices for healthy eating and lifestyle).

Before you can say “Price check in Aisle Five”, there would be rampant ethic mixing of Dairy, Deli, and Bakery classes. Canned goods will be crossbreeding with Frozen foods, fresh Produce will be fraternizing with Bulk Bin food stuffs…it’ll be ANARCHY! There will be little bastard grocery babies everywhere. How do you think we ever ended up with such abominations against nature as ‘Cheese In a Can’?

For the grocery items, that little checkout dividing bar is like a miniature Berlin Wall, dividing neighboring territories as well as raising the bar ** on ethnic cultural standards for groceries everywhere.

Heaven have mercy on any grocery item that may attempt to climb over, pole-vault, or tunnel under that checkout divider bar in a hasty misguided bid for the forbidden lands of Mrs. Manjoula’s grocery items.

* I seriously doubt that such lesser-civilized locations in the Eastern and Third World nations like in Kabul, Afghanistan or Banjul, Gambia would have a sense for or such a need for such customary practices. I highly doubt that old lady Manjoula is throwing a temper tantrum right now in the checkout aisle of ‘Mohammad’s Halal Shop’ in rural Rawalpindi, Pakistan because little Haji forgot to place down the divider bar between his pilaf and her loaves of chappati bread.

** Or laying it down, as the situation calls for.


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