The Uncivilizedness of 15 Items or Less

I am here today to campaign for the abolition of the 15 Items or Less lane at the grocery store. It is my contention that with the introduction of the Self-Serve lane, now a fixture in most grocery stores, the necessity of the 15 items or less lane has become extraneous. But more than that, the 15 items or less lane is a breeding ground for uncivilizedness. And I will not stand for uncivilizedness. Even if it’s a word I made up.

It’s common knowledge that the 15 items lane serves as a convenience for those of us who have popped in for a few quick items. Rather than wait behind someone with an overflowing cart containing two weeks sustenance, the grocery gods, whoever the are, have deemed 15 as the magic number to appropriate one’s use of this lane.

So while at the grocery store yesterday, I found myself with 9 items and ready to check out. I joined one other person waiting in the 15 items lane. A lady with two items got in line behind me and just as I was considering letting her go ahead of me (even though I only had 7 items more than she) (I am saintly like that, what can I say) a lady with one item got in line behind her. So I kept my place in line and began to load the items from my cart onto the conveyor belt.

To the casual observer it may have seemed as though I had more than 15 items because there were a few larger things in my cart like a big bag of charcoal, a case of soda etc. But if one were so concerned by the number of items I was purchasing they would merely need to count them.

Too difficult this task proved to be for the two ladies behind me, as I heard one say to the other loud enough for me to catch it, “Isn’t this the 15 items lane?”

“I know, right,” said the other rolling her eyes.

I can not explain to you how much I detest passive aggressiveness. If you have a problem, just tell me. Or count my items and realize you’re in the wrong and apologize to me for being snide.

I was angry. I hate being made to feel wrong when I am clearly and so obviously not wrong. But rather than perpetuate the rudeness by commenting back to her, I took the high road. And had a 5 minute long conversation with the cashier while she huffed and puffed and festered in her uncivilizedness. Ha!

241 thoughts on “The Uncivilizedness of 15 Items or Less

  1. i REALLY wish you would have just faced them and then pointed to each item and counted out loud “one! two!…nine!” and then capped it off with “dumb dumbs!” but that’s just me…way to stay classy san diego. ;)

    1. Ok, so the truth is I couldn’t think of a good comeback at the time. But then as I was in the car driving home I thought of a thousand things to say. Where are you when I need you to lay the smackdown!?

      1. I totally agree with your thoughts and I always think to myself, ” Why do people that have more than 15 items use the express line?” I mean I realize you probably want to get out the store as quickly as I do in the express line, but honey you just aren’t doing express shopping. I’m just saying…

      2. I live my entire life by the code of George Costanza! When I saw your comment, I about flipped my shit. I can’t believe I missed the opportunity to actually say this to someone. Totally kicking myself over here, but thanks for giving me a giggle!

    2. OK People You where way over the 15 big bag of charcoal, a case of soda 24 in that case and the bag of Charcoal WOW 300 maybe in a bag Doz eggs and Donuts also How Rude of you..

  2. I would’ve loudly and methodically counted each item, then had that 5 minute conversation with the checker.

  3. eww, what a bunch of bitches…I would have done the same thing as you – probably said nothing and then had a 25 minute rage-filled conversation with nobody while driving home… :)

  4. This is hysterical…I’ll sign your petition, if you start one. But for me, the reason is based entirely on my inherent grammarnaziness (a word I made up in response to your awesomely made-up word).

    Because it should be “15 items or fewer.”

    1. You’re right about “and fewer.” I was about to post the same thing until I saw your post.

      BTW, Publix is the only supermarket that I have seen where they actually say “or FEWER.” I’ve even congratulated them on it!

      1. Love it — my children always make a big deal out of pointing out the grammar error to the ambivalent checkers.

        It’s very fun raising little grammar geeks… ;)

  5. I just shop early in the morning on weekends to avoid line-ups –if I can. Sometimes there’s only 1 cashier available during lst hr.

    Meh. Plan your life around peak shopping hrs. I do.

  6. Haha, I completely agree! And I’ve noticed that at some stores, they are making the counters in those lanes so tiny that it seems only 3-4 items will fit! Slowly, but surely, they are pushing everyone out except for those who just want to purchase gum!


    1. I was at a loss for words! Until I got home and started to think about it and then I came up with a bunch of doozies! Now I just hang out at the grocery store hoping to see her again so I can tell her what I really think!!

  7. I love the suggestion about counting out the items. I too wouldn’t have said anything and seethed and felt guilty at the same time.
    Ruth from At Home om the Road

  8. You hate passive-aggressiveness, but had a five minute conversation with the cashier to make all parties wait longer. Hmmm!

    In any event, they should in fact abolish the express lane – but not for the reason you state (the alleged incivility). The real reason is that the express lane is no longer express. It’s been watered down beyond usefulness. It used to be eight items, now it’s ten, twelve or fifteen! And stores should put their top cashiers in those lanes to keep them moving, which doesn’t necessarily seem to be policy in most places. Finally, express lanes should be limited to cash payments only, or perhaps debit/credit as well. No checks – they seem to take way too long. Maybe consider banning coupons in the express lane as well!

    Bottom line, if you’re going to have an express lane, make sure it’s express!

  9. I had 17 items in the 15 item lane this very Sunday but I figured it’s more of a guide-line, or a round down situation anyway. Like stop signs in rural areas. This may mean I’m only moderately civilized but I’m okay with it.

  10. Great post! I once found myself in a very long grocery check-out line behind people whose carts were full to the top. I had maybe 30 items. Nobody was in the express line so the cashier flagged me to come into that check out line. I politely declined while explaining I had WAY over 15 items. Still, they flagged me over, telling me it was quite alright. Then,wouldn’t you know, as I’m unloading all my items, someone walked up behind me carrying 2 items and glaring at me with death in their eyes. I felt so embarrassed and the check out guy, trying to make light of things, looked at the person behind me and shrugged his shoulders and said, “I tried to tell her this was the express line–15 items or less, but she wouldn’t listen!” I could have died. I know my face turned visibly red. I made it to my car without bullets flying though so all was good. :)

      1. Ouch! I would not have been able to stay quiet in this situation, Gail. I am bad that way. I would have probably given the cashier a earful if he did that to me. Great post, Jenna. I really do wish people would stop and think a little more before assuming the worst of others.

    1. I’ve been there too, although thankfully the cashier didn’t say anything, and I was too shy to actually say they’d called me over. But, i’d rather the person behind me actaully say something than just give the death stare, I find it ruder. At least with words I feel better if I say something back…. and our express lanes are def anything but.

  11. You really hit a nerve with this post. I would absolutely have politely counted my items to those uncultured, passive-aggressive people, so they could feel good about waiting while I fumble to pay. I always have my money or debit card out and ready in the speed-lane, but for them, I could make an exception.

      1. I do exactly the same! My conversations with cashiers are in direct proportion to the rudeness of customers behind me…. and I drive slower when someone is tailgating me. Bwahaha! Cheers to passive aggressiveness!

  12. yesterday I got in the 8 items and under line with 9 items – I just pretended I could not count – I have seen other people go through with more and they did not seem to feel bad–I, though was waiting for the security guard to come and take one of my items away

  13. Since some stores do not have the self-check lanes (or are getting rid of them) I propose two laws of the X Items Or Less lane (in a ddition to the obvious, “keep your number of items under the limit)

    1. Cash or Debit/Credit only. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been stuck behind the little old lady writing out a check with perfect penmanship, and then taking the time to update her balance.

    2. Make sure the checker is old enough to sell alcohol. If I’m swinging through to grab some adult beverages, the convenience of the X Items Or Less lane is killed when the 17 year old checker needs to call over the manager to verify that I am over 21.

  14. Here’s my take on this one…. If I was your cashier and heard the comments from the peanut gallery, I would have called for at least 10 separate price checks to turn the heat up a little and roast a few peanuts!!!! LOL

    1. … and I just realized that I totally posted a comment that could easily be interpreted as me saying, “you’re wrong” onto a post that’s essentially a rant about needlessly making others feel like idiots. Sorry, that was not my intention.

  15. I think some people count a case of soda as 24 cans, putting you way over the limit, and way over their number of fingers and toes. This is why practical math should be taught in schools–who wants to sign that petition? :)

  16. Of course, the basic problem is that they don’t hire enough cashiers at most grocery stores to wait on all the customers without forming huge lines. Some people would be happy to have the job!

  17. I totally agree with you. I hate the self check out lanes, but they should replace the 15 items or less lane if a store is going to install them. As far as those people behind you, they were rude!

  18. Considering that I rarely hit a supermarket for more than a few items, I’m totally opposed to closing the express lane. And, for the record, I will not use the self-serve checkouts — I’m too much of a neo-Luddite.
    But my pet peeves list would include stores that put their slowest cashier in the express lane.

    1. I LOVED the self-checkout lanes when they were new and everyone was afraid to use them. I never had to wait, and I was out of there in a flash!

      Then people who have a hard time turning on their stoves started trying out the self-checkout lanes, and now you have to wait while the clerk goes to each of those people to help them with whatever it is that they can’t figure out (like which tomatoes they got, or whatever). Arggghhh.

      Thanks to all of you who DON’T use these lanes if you don’t know HOW to use them (or don’t LIKE them)!

  19. I have been in grocery stores that have Cash or Credit lines and have had it happen where only the Cash lane is open and this store did not have self-serve either. I would think as adults with common sense that the majority of us in the 15 items or less lane are not trying to work the system, so back off and mind your business. Congrats on being FP!

  20. I’ve had this happen to me so many times I’ve lost track. It seems that when you border the “max” amount you are overstepping to some. When someone pulls in behind you with 1 or 2 items the max in my cart looks like eternity to them. I remember once a lady yelling at me asking if I could find another lane because I was using coupons and she was in a rush. Really? How about you find yourself a new lane and bugger off. ( I never said that because I’m a polite bloke) but really? There is no excuse to be rude to others. Think before you speak. Leave early if you don’t have a minute to live! Cheers.. I shared this with my Facebook Fans to get their comments to this ongoing topic. Mr.CBB

    1. Right! I understand the inconvenience if someone is truly in a hurry. But if they would take a minute to evaluate their hurry, I suspect that in most cases they could spare the extra minutes. After all, I did get there first!

  21. I hate misplaced self righteousness! I was on my learner’s licence when my mother told me to park in the disability parking space while she raced into a shop. I did so, and then 2 mins later some suited up middle aged guy pointed at the wheelchair sign and said “CAN YOU READ?”. I was rather pleased to have responded quickly, saying “CAN YOU?!?!” and pointing and the disability parking permit clearly displayed in the windscreen. He shuffled off mighty fast. Seeing my “L” plate he had made the assumption I was an ignorant learner driver. Little did he know my sister was in the back seat having one of her “non-fit” epileptic seizures. The point of our disability permit was not mobility, rather quick access in an emergency.

  22. WTG on the 5 minute convo with the cashier!! A lot of people don’t realize…the express lanes are actually slower. You’d think they’d be faster but since most pay via debit or credit card (vs cash) its almost like being in line behind someone with 50 items paying cash. Not sure if I articulated that correctly…but seriously, they chose to get into that line. Its not like you forced them to stay there.

    Another pet peeve of the express lane – when the store’s busy and they allow one or two people through with more then the limit and then the snarky wenches get in line behind you and start spouting off. “Um hello, the CASHIER called me over here regardless of how much was in my cart”

  23. Once I ended up behind someone that had 22 items, was buying three bags of salt and wanted to extreme coupon. She kept on apologizing to me (Please, don’t. We all know how to count and behave as adults.) and I wouldn’t make eye contact because I decided that either (1) she must have REALLY needed it or (2) she was going to be getting a major karmic bite in the ass later and I did NOT want that re-directed to me.

    10 minutes later, I finally got to check out.

    1. Another commenter brought to my attention that the proper use of the word is incivility. But how can you be proper when you are talking about something that is improper? Plus uncivilizedness just sounds better!

  24. Funny you’d post that. Personally, I don’t care if they have 16 or 17 items because it’s only an extra couple seconds and obviously they wanted to save time. It doesn’t really bother me. What does bother me is when people purposely go in the lane with piles of groceries. One time a lady got in the line with two filled carts! I was astounded that nobody said anything, especially not the cashier.

  25. Good for you! I’ve had more than my share recently of being snidely and falsely accused (you’d have to know me to know that I’m truly really honestly not a self-sanctimonious boobhead) and it gladdened my heart to read your post.

  26. Here’s what I’ve learned: whatever line you get into at the supermarket will be the wrong line (Murphy’s Law). Even if the person ahead of you has only one item, there will be a price check.. Just so you know.

  27. How about people that leave their items at the checkout to go and get something they forgot and the line gets held up? Can we group them into the same category please?

  28. LOL, I would have picked up each item and counted out loud..1 – 2 – 3 – 4…… As for the scan your self, I really don’t like those, I think if I have to scan and bag myself they should discount my groceries!! Thanks for the chuckle.

      1. I’ve tried. Stores won’t. My husband is very particular that we use a checkout that keeps a person employed vs one person watching over 8 registers. I kinda agree with him AND cashiers are faster then the guy trying to figure out the produce code for banana’s on the touch screen.

        If everyone tends to boycott the self check outs, the stores actually remove some of them and bring back the actual cashier and lane. Quite a few of the big box stores in our area tried them and they all started with 12 self check outs and now only have 4-8.

        People prefer to deal with people. End of story.

  29. If our local store gets rid of the 15 items or less lanes, there won’t be any cashiers available at that side of the store. I don’t get why there are 30 registers, but only 7 or 8 are working at any given time! On the “non-grocery” side of the store, only two express lanes are available.

  30. Wow there’s only two thins you can do in a sitution like this: hold your head high and pretend to not hear them…or slowly turn to face them, look the woman closest to you in the eyes and mouth the words ‘I’ll kill you’…that how we handled things ’round here lol

  31. I was laughing out loud on this one!! I love your profound yet subtle “reply” to the two ladies by just chatting a little longer with cashier. Thanks for sharing. Love your background and header on your Blog too…very original. You Matter! Smiles, Nancy

  32. If I go to the store and I get: 1 quart of milk, 1 dozen eggs, 1 pound of butter, 4 cans of soup (all the same), 2 pounds of strawberries, 3 cans of kitty food (they are sold as 3 for $1), and 1 bottle of juice… I USED to think that I was allowed to bring this to the 8 Items Or Fewer lane. I have less than 8 different kinds of items.
    My husband pointed out to me that I am wrong.
    Also, my husband counts items of people in front of us.
    If he finds that they have more than the number allowed he says something. I hide behind the gum rack.
    I don’t really care, for the most part if you have a handful-ish of stuff, it takes about the same amount of time. Regardless of what lane I am in, if I have several items and somebody comes behind me before they start ringing mine and this other person has only a few items I let them go ahead of me.
    The thing that annoys me at the grocery store is when somebody with two weeks worth of groceries for a well fed family of seven CUTS ME OFF to get in line in front of me when I have like four items.
    I wouldn’t even be bothered if the person legitimately got to the line before me. The fact that they had to take a corner so hard their mega-sized cart went up on two wheels and nearly lost the four 8-packs of Mountain Dew nestled on the sides in order to GET in front of me … and then won’t make eye contact at all because SHE KNOWS SHE IS A BAD PERSON … that is what is so wrong.
    Can we make those line cutters stop? With some sort of shame and punishment involved?
    Also…. WTF is up with the 8-packs of 20oz Mountain Dews nestled on the sides of the carts? Do you know what I mean? I have never seen this before in my LIFE and now I see it all the time.
    Can we have people also NOT do that? Carts are getting bigger, and grocery aisles are narrow… if I have a cart instead of just a basket and attempt to go past a person with the Mountain Dew decoration sticking out that four more inches … it makes it THAT much harder to manuever. Can we make it a game where you are supposed to hit the bottles? And then if anything falls and is damaged, not only does the person who put it on her cart have to pay for it, she also has to clean it.
    Thank you in advance for granting my grocery store wishes.

  33. I can’t think of a classy comeback in sticky situations sometimes… Maybe that’s why they call it COME BACKs… I hate passive aggressive mobs. You may have observed, they always seek comfort in numbers, they are kind of spineless that way…

  34. After the cashier finished scanning all my items, I probably would’ve politely but loudly said, “That’s 9 items, right?” and if the cashier has to count them to double check, so much the better. :)

    That said, I really don’t understand why stores think 15 items (or less) is a good number for express lanes. Oftentimes I see that line moving slower than regular lines. It doesn’t make any sense.

  35. Next time, say to the cashier, just loud enough so they ladies can hear, “don’t you hate the poor state of Americans’ mathematics?”

  36. AMEN and AMEN. I find predominantly there is a certain age group of ladies who does this…and they seem to also be the same ones that push in front of me at the line to buy my eggs at market…then turn and look at me like i’m evil when I cough loudly to notify them of my actual presence. Standing-in-line rage is a rich area of rant.

  37. Happens to me all the time. Some people just can’t seem to care enough how they make others feel. I spend all my time after that thinking of what I could have said in retort but its just a pointless waste of time that I can’t seem to get rid of.

    1. This is exactly why I wish I would have said something in that moment. People like us waste our time trying to figure out how to be mean to the mean people, while the mean people go on without learning a lesson thinking we nice people just wasted their time. It’s a cruel injustice!

  38. Writing from the UK and a place where my local super-market has a ‘5 items or less’ (sic) lane to go with the education level of most clients, I would like to congratulate you on the post! I just wanted to add that here in the south of Englad most people tend to hide their issues with other people’s shopping- after all queueing is the national sport here, but I have often seen the person at the cashier intervene: “Madam, you seem to have far too many items, this is the 5 items lane” and they take their stuff elsewhere. Rightly so. They are the ones who should do it. I do take the point if someone has 16 at a 15 or fewer lane, margin of human error, I wouldn’t make a fuss.
    P.S. 24 cans or 6 eggs counting as 24 or 6 (mentioned above0 is obviously only a topic of contention for a blog forum, what counts is the number of bar-codes scanned or items in the same pricing (e.g. 7 apples in a bag). On the other hand, 8 bottles of water to be scanned separately are indeed 8 items.
    All the best

    1. Right! Whether it is 5 items or 15 items, if someone is just slightly over, then to make a fuss is just splitting hairs at that point. And thank you for your barcode point. I just finished making that point to someone else! Makes sense to me!

  39. I really believe you should have exactly 15 items, no more and no less. As for size, they should be no wider than 3 inches, no higher than 2 inches and no longer than 12 inches. Circular items should have a diameter of no more than 10 inches and a depth of 3 inches. They should make up no more than 25% of total purchases. Spherical and othe rolly items should not be permitted. Lets get some serious order in the supermarkets!

  40. I used to be the cashier who worked the ten items or less lane. Can I tell you what a bummer it was when people would sneak more than ten items through? Then I looked like the bad guy. That is not the lane to work on. The customers who come through that line are usually the worst. I had a guy in line once yelling because it was taking too long. So I took the high road. When it was his turn, I took my sweet time with him. ;) You did the right thing. And I’m sure the cashier was just helping you out. Great post. Congrats on FP!

  41. I didn’t read all of the comments left here, but I did see that you recognize that passive aggressive behavior goes both ways. I see opportunity in those moments to “kill them kindness”…Like turning toward the two ladies behind you and asking (cheerfully, mind you) “Don’t you just LOVE the 15 items or less line. I only have 9 items, and this line has absolutely MADE My DAY WONDERFUL!”

    Sure, it’s a little corny maybe…and passive aggressive, yes, but people soon realize when faced with kindness that they’ve been less than deserving of it with their own behavior. Well, some people anyway. Others will always feel they are better than you and there is nothing you can do about that. I sleep better at night knowing THOSE people are most likely going down first during the Zombie Apocalypse.

    Regardless, you handled yourself in the most appropriate manner possible. You were the better person by showing class, reserving your right to be generous and thoughtful with your friendship with the cashier and then blogging about the entire episode only to be Freshly Pressed and now the whole world knows not to shop at your store for fear of retaliation by you…a la Taylor Swift. Kudos to you, I love it!!

    Thanks for the sharing this post…have a HAPPY week! :)

  42. Awesome!

    I would have been strongly tempted to do something like say, “Oh! That’s right. I forgot to count!” Followed up by counting (as I might to a very young child still learning) each item – starting with those already scanned/out – in a running commentary style…

    Box of soda – that’s “wuuuuuuuun”
    Cereal bars – “toooooooo”
    Bag of coal – that makes threeeee

    watermelon – the last one is number niiiiiiine
    Now, let me think, is nine more or less than fifteen? Hang on, let me check (pull out phone and tap at it). Yup. Definitely less. OK. I guess I’m ready to pay now that I’ve checked.

    At this point, the cashier has probably been ready for a few moments, so I could just carry on, but if the people were really being obnoxious, I might be tempted to say something like:

    Oh wait, I wanted to get some gum and candy bars! If I get ten, I guess I’m over the limit. You don’t mind waiting while I put everything back in the cart, do you? (insert sincere look here).

    Of course… I probably wouldn’t actually do this. I’d either suck it up or say something like, “Yes, it is. You have one, she has two, I have nine. We all made it into the correct lane. Thanks for checking.” Or, if I was pissy, “Nine is less than fifteen. If you don’t know that, you should go back to kindergarten.”

  43. So True! And everyone faces this dilemma in the stores.
    Congrats on being FPd! This is a fabulous topic I’ve seen other bloggers write about as well.

  44. You are my sister from another Ms. and Mister…….I have been debating about including a weekly comment about manners and consideration, or rather lack there of, in my blog (overdue for it’s first ever post). Depending on how many rude patrons I had encountered by that point I would have either done the same as yourself, or started counting in my outside voice so that these two and everyone else around would know how many items I had to pay for!

  45. I love the self check out lanes because I get to pack my groceries the way I want to – tomatoes on top, evenly weighted bags, etc. and I never get home and finding anything missing.

    In my supermarket you can’t check out too many items over the limit because there are only two holders for bags. Once you fill those up there’s no place to put anything else. Of course sometimes you have that problem when you’re within the limit if you have large items. You also can’t use your own bags in at the express check outs because putting them in place of the store’s plastic bags sets off an alarm at the check out and your told to remove the item you haven’t scanned.

    My complaint about shoppers runs in the opposite direction of yours. We have 4 express self checkout counters and two lanes for everyone else. It annoys me to know end when a person with only a few items doesn’t use express check out and bogs down the line meant for the rest of us.

  46. i would have said ‘get your bitch-asses in the self check out if you have a problem with my NINE goddam items’. but since COUNTING is so hard, the self checkout was probably not a possibility with them. check out the nerve you struck with this one! jeepers, there must be a million comments. well done. ;)

  47. Awesome! I would have definitely turned around after hearing one of those ladies say that and said “why don’t you count my items? if you’re that concerned with following the rules?” Personally, I despise when people who have no business in the self-checkout lane get in and fumble with the whole process, thus slowing down everyone behind them.

  48. Well done for extending your time at the checkout! I have been yelled at in the 15 items or less line before by a mother in the company of her four-year-old daughter. I believe I reprimanded this woman for teaching her little one bad manners. Next time I’ll just ask for a price check on three of my 15 items! Thanks for the inspiration!

  49. Very valid points… oddly our local grocery stores took out the self checkout lanes. Can you believe it? Now I must wait in the grocery lines once again.

  50. I am queen of the failure to have a snappy comeback until at least an hour later. So I completely understand. Would have been cool to say, “Oh I forgot something” and do a lap around the store while those folks waited. Ha! I’m still in favor of the 15 or less line as I have taken a stand against the self-serve option. Unless I am being paid, I will not do that job.

  51. Anyone who has been to Wal-Mart at 4AM to pick up a few things for lunch on their way to work knows that there is one checker. Maybe more for larger towns, but I have never seen more than one. And that means that if someone is ahead of you that has a buggy full, they have to go first. I usually just leave my things there and leave, stop at the convenience store and pay too much for a can of soup. BUT there are nice people in this world that will let you go ahead of them, and I have done this myself. And why should we feel guilty for doing something that is totally OK? Next time just remember to count out loud !!!!! I love this post and say I want to hear more !!

  52. I wish I didn’t feel compelled to comment on this article, but here it is.

    You say: “I hate being made to feel wrong when I am clearly and so obviously not wrong”
    I’d say: “If you’re not wrong, then who can make you feel wrong?”

    Some people need to learn that the appropriate response in this is situation is; “Pfft, whatever!”

    1. You are right! And in most situations I let petty things like this roll off my back. But if you do that forever, than at some point you become spineless. It’s ok to stand up for yourself if you feel insulted, but you have to pick and choose your battles. For me, this was my battle!

  53. It must be frustrating to be a rude person who can’t count. At their comments I would have added some chewing gum or something from the checkout to the other items to see which persons ears started to steam first.

  54. I once had a nasty lady tell me I had to throw the baby diapers in the can for recycled paper. It was so ridiculous, she was so wrong, but she was adamant and aggressive about it. I ended up breaking out in tears at the injustice of it all: there I was heavily pregnant tugging a two-year-old and all I wanted to do was get rid of those stinky diapers!

    Turned out to be a good strategy, though, as the woman backed off when confronted with my craziness. You should try that in the checkout line!

  55. At the end of the day, they’re all going into one trolley……. if people object I could happily take even more of their time, by taking 11… and then spending 20 minutes deciding which item I don’t want.

    “Its ok people I know I have a hundred items but I intend to whittle it down to 10. Just give me a few minutes to set up a competition amongst my items……”

  56. I really don’t think I’d have been able to keep my mouth shut. I’d have probably said something like:

    “It sure is, and not that it’s any of your business, I only have 9 items. Oh, and next time you feel the need to comment about what you think I’m dong wrong, do me a favor and either keep your mouth shut or woman up and say it to my face instead of being a passive aggressive bitch about it. Have a nice day!”

    But then again, I’ve been a little irritable lately…

  57. I think you did the right thing. Sometimes not rubbing it in someone’s face—even though you totally can—is better. Having a five-minute fake conversation with the cashier to piss those people off is inspired. I wouldn’t have thought of that.

  58. I don´t think that a 5 minute conversation with the cashier is taking the high road. I guess it is actually perpetuating aggression – you just made the people waiting in the line more aggressive and probably their huff-puff made you more aggressive, too.

  59. I concur, I wish you approached them. Or turned around and let them know real sarcastically that you were clearly in the right. That way, not only would they be embarrassed…but feel foolish too. Lol ;-)

  60. This is great; I hate that kind of passive aggressiveness too! The 15 items lane stresses me out – If I have a bag of apples does that count as 1 item or several? If I have 16 items can I still go in this lane – I mean, it’s close? I love the idea of the self-checkout lane, but I inevitably have something that doesn’t scan properly and then I need to press the red button for assistance and wait….

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

    1. Totally! I think that no matter the solution, the grocery store is not at the top of anyone’s priority list, so the levels of irritability in the store are already high. We just all need to calm down and try to weather the storm together! And thanks!!

  61. hilarious!! passive aggressive sucks….this reminds me of one of my yoga classes where someone moved my mat (basically because they wanted my spot) and told me it was because the class was getting full–i fumed and had all these great comebacks later but in the moment i was just shocked. i wrote about it too—uncivilized yes–i went so far as to call it the indelicacy of rudeness! congrats on being FP

    1. What?! Yoga class is supposed to be a place of peace. I would have walked out behind her after class and been like, “Namaste (b-word).” Ha ha, no way would I really do that, but I would wish a lot of bad karma her way!

  62. oooh, good one. my supermarket has a 10 items or less lane, I go early on Tuesday mornings, and it is the only lane open! Imagine my hesitation as I take my 50 items to this lane. And the annoyance of the people who show up to that lane right after another regular one opens up…(it ALWAYS opens up right when I’m loading item number 27 on the conveyor belt.)

  63. I have worked at a supermarket for a while and see what you experience on a regular basis, even more so now that we don’t have an express lane as we have put self serve checkouts in and everybody goes to what they believe is the express lane. Its quite funny to see customers reaction when there is a whole trolley load of items in front of them rather than “12 items or less.” It was quite tough for customers as well as the cashiers at the beginning but now people are starting to realise there is no express lane at all and they are adapting which is good. Love the post! Well done!

    1. Thanks! Working at a supermarket would be so tough in this type of situation because people are looking at you to be the authority. But it’s not as if you are the Governor of manners! Very glad to hear people are adapting. Change can be good sometimes!

  64. Ha! Excellent post. What a great summary of the horrors of the grocery store express lane. In situations like those I can never seem to muster the right comeback until long after everything is finished. I usually just retreat to my little bubble of happiness and go on my way. Keep the funny anecdotes coming! Thanks, Rene

  65. Haha! I liked this a lot! I work at a grocery story, and I know what this is like, but on a different level, really. Our express lanes are 12 or less, but the same principle applies. I’ve had a dozens of people who come through with borderline, or slightly over, which is fine, but I’ve had a few who tried to come through with well more than the limit, whom I’ve told to find another line, politely of course. Then there are the few people who decided to cause a scene, like a lady who had a full cart, and insulted me the whole time, because I originally wasn’t going to allow her to come here, then wouldn’t even pay when it was time, etc etc.
    It’s all part of the “fun” of working at a grocery store though. ;D

    1. Thanks! Ya, the people that cause a scene are the worst! That is sort of why I just let it go in my situation because the last thing the cashier wants to do it settle a dispute or hold up the line. Thanks for sharing!

  66. I worked in grocery/retail for 20 years before settling into my new profession, some of the antics people pull in the 15 or less lines are pretty funny when you think about it. But the folks in line take the whole thing way to seriously. For example I’ve seen folks get upset because they think a 6 pack should be counted as 6 items or that you shouldn’t count the free items for buy one get one free… Great post made me think back on the “good ole days…. ” Lol!

  67. First you say, “If you have a problem with me, just say so…” and then in the NEXT line, you start a five minute conversation with the cashier rather than addressing the actual “problem” head on. So you “detest” passive-aggressive behavior, but you’re willing to play in that sandbox at the drop of a hat. I’m not saying don’t continue engaging in passive-aggressive behavior. Whatever about that. But don’t pretend that you’re “holier than thou” because you are an offender of the worst order. And the hilarious part is, you blogged about it and STILL don’t get the irony.

    1. How are passive aggressive people supposed to know what their behavior looks like if you don’t pay it back to them?! Perhaps I forgot to mention that I make exceptions for the worst of offenders. But I did mention in the comments that I was aware of what I was doing by having the 5 minute conversation with the cashier.

  68. Good for you! I would’ve very LOUDLY counted each item as the cashier rang me up, THEN had a very L O N G and cheery chat about the weather with the clerk.
    And good for you–FRESHLY PRESSED!!!!
    (Wow. I’m FOLLOWING someone who’s freshly pressed!!)

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