What is eternity? You're on the checkout line at a supermarket. There are seven people in front of you. They are all old. They all have two carts and coupons for every item. They are all paying by check. None of them have ID. It's the checkout girl's first day on the job. She doesn't speak any English. Take away fifteen minutes from that, and you begin to get an idea of what eternity is.
Don't believe everything you read. It's very difficult to be accepting of our own bodies. This topic deserves it's own book, but since I'm not qualified to write it, I won't. Instead I'll just say this: The pictures staring out at you from the supermarket checkout stands, the images we are all supposed to aspire to? They lie
I remember being a kid and seeing the 'National Inquirer' at the grocery store checkout line. When somebody actually picked up a copy, it was mortifying. You felt dirty for them. But now it's perfectly acceptable to read something like that. There's absolutely no taboo surrounding that kind of exploitation.
Oh no!' replies Monsieur Tuvache indignantly. 'We're not murderers, you know. You have to understand that's prohibited. We supply what is needed but people do the deed themselves. It's their affair. We are just here to offer a service by selling quality products, ' continues the shopkeeper, leading the customer towards the checkout.
I don't take off my nail polish when I go home because I'm too lazy, and they're fine with it. Maybe the checkout at the grocery store's not so great with it, but they're fine with it. The distrust, the phobias, those are learned, those are taught. But the natural grace is to understand and to love.
I had a dream about you. You said you were leaving me, and I said, 'When are you coming back?' You said, 'I don't think I'm ever coming back.' And I replied, 'So you're going to Walmart, huh? Those checkout lines can take an eternity to get through. Well, pick me up some chips while you're there.
Went to the grocery store, got everything on my list and went up to the checkout. I put a bag of pet food for our rabbit on the conveyor. The girl looked at me and said, Do you have a rabbit? I looked at here and said deadpan, Nope. Just like 'em 'cause they're crunchy. Here's your sign.
When I was thirteen, I was in a supermarket with my mother, and for no reason at all, I picked up a science-fiction book at the checkout stand and started reading it. I couldn't believe I was doing that, actually reading a book. And, man, it opened up a whole new thing. Reading became the sparkplug of my imagination.
I've written for those who want to learn, truly learn, about a community with which they aren't familiar. Or for those who have preconceptions but can admit they may not be entirely accurate (and, in some cases, that they are completely wrong). This means my reader must possess an open mind and a certain level of curiosity. If that's you, proceed to checkout. An uncensored glimpse behind the curtain, hairy backs and all, awaits.
As part of our ongoing series of reports on the environment, 'America Goes Green,' we take on the question that can make otherwise competent adults quake with fear. We've all been there. You come to the end of the checkout line and then comes that question: 'Paper or plastic?' For that one brief moment, we grocery buyers are made to feel like the fate of the planet hinges on our decision.
It's a shame, when I'm at the checkout line, and the cashier holds up my bill to the light, in search for a ghost president, or slashing a yellow marker to see if counterfeit. Even in money we can't be trusted. Makes we wonder whats next, will the government make a marker to slash our hand, or an x-ray we will have to walk through, to check if we have a dishonest heart or corrupt spirit?
There are some forty-five thousand items in the average American supermarket and more than a quarter of them now contain corn. This goes for the nonfood items as well: Everything from thetoothpaste and cosmetics to the disposable diapers, trash bags, cleansers, charcoal briquettes, matches, and batteries, right down to the shine on the cover of the magazine that catches youreye by the checkout: corn.
Lots of stores have self-checkout lanes now. That's clever. They get us to buy their goods-and do their work too. Instead of paying cashiers to check us out, it's like they've enticed us to pay them for the privilege of a rewarding work experience at the end of our shopping excursion. Now, using this principle, how can I sell my love to someone, and be able to not only keep it, but get more in return from the very person who bought my love in the first place?
This is a record I ended up having to make to get on to the next stage of my life. What I did was a desperate thing to do. I'm aware of the fact that it was irrational. I didn't mean to make it sound like it was my master plan. The tour had even been going all right, but I was just kind of fed up with the situation as it was, playing the same old rock and roll crap that everyone goes through, the general moaning when you really should be grateful that you don't work in the checkout counter at the grocery.
Here are some passing thoughts. Imagine looking up at the moon and seeing it burning. Imagine seeing the grocery store's checkout girl grow horns. Imagine growing younger instead of older. Imagine feeling more powerful and more capable of falling in love with life every new day instead of being scared and sick and not knowing whether to stay under a sheet or venture forth into the cold.
These days, when people are alone, or feel a moment of boredom, they tend to reach for a device. In a movie theater, at a stop sign, at the checkout line at a supermarket and, yes, at a memorial service, reaching for a device becomes so natural that we start to forget that there is a reason, a good reason, to sit still with our thoughts: It does honor to what we are thinking about. It does honor to ourselves.
The point is that petty, frustrating crap like this is exactly where the work of choosing comes in. Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout lines give me time to think, and if I don't make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I'm going to be pissed and miserable every time I have to food-shop, because my natural default-setting is the certainty that situations like this are really all about me, about my hungriness and my fatigue and my desire to just get home.
David Foster Wallace
Self-checkout is negative because more and more retailers are losing the personal touch. People want to do business where people know their name and communicate with them. With a world full of email and more self-service we will begin to start seeking out the basics from retailers who create emotion. There is not emotion out of self-service and most people buy out of emotion.
For the first time since he showed up in my checkout lane, I let my eyes wander the full length of his body. The bulge in his running down the side of his pants leg is quite noticeable; either he has a banana in his pocket, or he's happy to see me. Then I notice a similar bulge running down the side of his other pants leg. Either he has two bananas in his pockets, or he has two erections.
Once she'd loved my filet mignon, my carnivore inklings, but now she was a vegan princess, living off of beans. She'd given up the cheese and bacon, sworn off Burger King, and when I wouldn't do the same she gave me back my ring. I stood there by the romaine lettuce, feeling my heart pine. Wishing that this meatless beauty still would be all mine. She turned around to go to checkout, fifteen items or less. And I knew this was the last go-round, so this is what I said. ... "Don't you ever give me no rotten tomato, 'cause all I ever wanted was your sweet potato.
The Grocery Checkout Proviso: The more things you care about, the more vulnerable you are. If you are part of that epicurean minority in this country that is still offended by violations of the English language, you will be slapped in the face every time you stand in line at the market. FIFTEEN ITEMS OR LESS. Caring passionately about grammar-caring passionately about anything most of humanity doesn't care about-is like poking a giant hole in your life and letting the wind blow everything around.
The woman next to you that looks really bad might be going through the toughest challenge ever with her teenage daughter; think about if it were you in her shoes before gossiping about her. The man at the checkout line using change may have lost his job and is buying diapers for his baby at home because its all the money he has left; think about it before you snicker to your friends because he could've bought beer or cigarettes. The child with holes in his shoes could be homeless but he's still going to school because he feels safe there even though others laugh at him; think about it before you judge the innocent. You never know what challenges you're going to face from day to day!
Reading is the creative center of a writer's life. I take a book with me everywhere I go, and find there are all sorts of opportunities to dip in. The trick is to teach yourself to read in small sips as well as in long swallows. Waiting rooms were made for books"" of course! But so are theater lobbies before the show, long and boring checkout lines, and everyone's favorite, the john. You can even read while you're driving, thanks to the audiobook revolution. Of the books I read each year, anywhere from six to a dozen are on tape.
Holocausts do not amaze me. Rapes and child slavery do not amaze me. And Franklin, I know you feel otherwise, but Kevin does not amaze me. I am amazed when I drop a glove in the street and a teenager runs two blocks to return it. I am amazed when a checkout girl flashes me a wide smile with my change, though my own face had been a mask of expedience. Lost wallets posted to their owners, strangers who furnish meticulous directions, neighbors who water each other's houseplants - these things amaze me.
Real mothers don't just listen with humble embarrassment to the elderly lady who offers unsolicited advice in the checkout line when a child is throwing a tantrum. We take the child, dump him in the lady's cart, and say, "Great. Maybe you can do a better job." Real mothers know that it's okay to eat cold pizza for breakfast. Real mothers admit it is easier to fail at this job than to succeed.
An even more pointed example of the the power of the silence tabu in libraries occurred in Duluth in 1981. The police were pursuing a fugitive from justice who ran into the public library. Uniformed police surrounded the building, and the library director was notified that only unobtrusive plainclothesmen were entering the building. Their instructions: 'When you find him, overpower him. Quietly.' It was done, and only a few people in the crowded building saw a handcuffed man being ushered past the checkout counter. 'See, ' one librarian remarked quietly to an amazed person, 'that's what happens when you don't pay your book fines.
Ray B. Browne
Impatience is a form of unbelief. It's what we begin to feel when we start to doubt the wisdom of God's timing or the goodness of God's guidance. It springs up in our hearts when our plan is interrupted or shattered. It may be prompted by a long wait in a checkout line or a sudden blow that knocks out half our dreams. The opposite of impatience is not a glib denial of loss. It's a deepening, ripening, peaceful willingness to wait for God in the unplanned place of obedience, and to walk with God at the unplanned pace of obedience - to wait in his place, and go at his pace.
Much of our food system depends on our not knowing much about it, beyond the price disclosed by the checkout scanner; cheapness and ignorance are mutually reinforcing. And it's a short way from not knowing who's at the other end of your food chain to not caring-to the carelessness of both producers and consumers that characterizes our economy today. Of course, the global economy couldn't very well function without this wall of ignorance and the indifference it breeds. This is why the American food industry and its international counterparts fight to keep their products from telling even the simplest stories-"dolphin safe, " "humanely slaughtered, " etc.-about how they were produced. The more knowledge people have about the way their food is produced, the more likely it is that their values-and not just "value"-will inform their purchasing decisions.
I regretted my human form briefly; it would be so much easier to drag and rope information into the brain as neatly as one dragged and dropped information on the computer. Perhaps I was suffering from a touch of information sickness? If I could weed out my thoughts... There was one reliable cure I've found, a bit of the hair of the dog-the release in reading. Not a manual: something with a narrative, a chute built by a writer and waxed until the reader fell into it and skittered right to the end without stopping. The relief of being in someone else's hands. Yes, exactly: I needed to be under a spell... it didn't matter who I was, or what I did, or where I paid taxes, or how long I stayed. I'm sure it didn't matter if the book had RFID tags or a checkout card with a ladder of scrawled names, though tags were neat. I knew the librarians would help me figure out anything I needed to know later-I was under the librarians' protection. Civil servants and servants of civility, they had my back. They would be whatever they needed to be that day: information professionals, teachers, police, community organizers, computer technicians, historians, confidantes, clerks, social workers, storytellers, or in this case, guardians of my peace. They were the authors of this opportunity-diversion from the economy and distraction from snow, protectors of the bubble of concentration I'd found in the maddening world. And I knew they wouldn't disturb me until closing time.
A wealth of research confirms the importance of face-to-face contact. One experiment performed by two researchers at the University of Michigan challenged groups of six students to play a game in which everyone could earn money by cooperating. One set of groups met for ten minutes face-to-face to discuss strategy before playing. Another set of groups had thirty minutes for electronic interaction. The groups that met in person cooperated well and earned more money. The groups that had only connected electronically fell apart, as members put their personal gains ahead of the group's needs. This finding resonates well with many other experiments, which have shown that face-to-face contact leads to more trust, generosity, and cooperation than any other sort of interaction. The very first experiment in social psychology was conducted by a University of Indiana psychologist who was also an avid bicyclist. He noted that 'racing men' believe that 'the value of a pace, ' or competitor, shaves twenty to thirty seconds off the time of a mile. To rigorously test the value of human proximity, he got forty children to compete at spinning fishing reels to pull a cable. In all cases, the kids were supposed to go as fast as they could, but most of them, especially the slower ones, were much quicker when they were paired with another child. Modern statistical evidence finds that young professionals today work longer hours if they live in a metropolitan area with plenty of competitors in their own occupational niche. Supermarket checkouts provide a particularly striking example of the power of proximity. As anyone who has been to a grocery store knows, checkout clerks differ wildly in their speed and competence. In one major chain, clerks with differing abilities are more or less randomly shuffled across shifts, which enabled two economists to look at the impact of productive peers. It turns out that the productivity of average clerks rises substantially when there is a star clerk working on their shift, and those same average clerks get worse when their shift is filled with below-average clerks. Statistical evidence also suggests that electronic interactions and face-to-face interactions support one another; in the language of economics, they're complements rather than substitutes. Telephone calls are disproportionately made among people who are geographically close, presumably because face-to-face relationships increase the demand for talking over the phone. And when countries become more urban, they engage in more electronic communications.
Edward L. Glaeser