This Humor Me column originally appeared in the Herald-Independent on February 4, 2016.

I heard on the radio the other day that the average 50-year-old has spent five years of their life waiting in line, so it’s time I come clean and offer you an apology.

The reason that number seems so high is my fault. I fail 100 percent of the time in choosing the right checkout line at the grocery store and it throws off the average.

I blame those self-checkout lines. I can’t resist them because the lines are shorter, but I get burned every time no matter how meticulous I am in performing my analysis.

A recent scenario: An older woman has a lot of produce she’ll have to manually key in codes for, whereas the young guy in the other aisle has all scannable items in his cart. His line will be quicker, right?


He has trouble with his debit card and has to go find his father. By that time the woman at the other checkout has left the building and has probably already started preheating her oven by the time I finally get to take my turn.

The biggest difficulty is gauging how long it will take the person to bag their own groceries. If the person is alone with no one to help him bag, and has more than 20 items, beware of his line.

Once I chose a line where the young man was bagging and all the other lines still had full carts. I did an internal fist pump celebrating my good fortune in getting the best line. Then it was as if time stopped. He moved at a glacial speed as he loaded his produce into his two cloth bags. In one of my lowest moments ever at the grocery store I finally started checking out and sailed my items down the belt. They crashed into his bags. That was almost as satisfying as if I had chosen the fastest line.

Sometimes it goes down to the wire and I get caught up in watching if the person in my line will finish faster than the person in the line I rejected. Of course, my line always loses, sometimes by seconds. Oh well. At least all this checkout line analysis and people-watching has kept me from spending that entire five years reading the tabloid headlines in the checkout line magazine racks.



Photo: Kaleb Fulgham

Filed under: Anita's PostsHumor Column

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