A few weeks ago there was an incident at the grocery store that embarrassed me to the point of considering only shopping by Shipt for the rest of the year, or at least until I thought maybe the workers stopped passing around the latest gossip like “Hey, did you hear what that lady did the other night? The nerve of that woman!”
You see, everybody acts like a jerk sometimes, but it’s not always on purpose. Ever accidentally cut someone off because they were in a blind spot and you honestly did not see them? It’s an honest mistake. But you know they’re in their car, cursing up a storm about what an ass you are. And that’s how you become the “unintentional a-hole.” As a side note, that’s what I wanted to title this, but Do Not put that into Google! It is very NSFW!
My big a-hole moment happened a few weeks ago at our local Publix. It was a rare solo shopping trip for me. Moms know it’s a big deal to get to go grocery shopping alone. It was later in the evening, after 8PM, so the place was rather empty and quiet. I relished the moment, slowly cruising up and down the aisles, reading packages, comparing prices and taking the chance to really stock up on things we needed. I amassed a massive pile of groceries and when I finally couldn’t fit any more in my cart, I turned toward the checkout lanes.
As I pulled into my lane, lost in my solo shopping reverie, I noticed the cashiers were switching out and the new one coming in gave me the most sour look and rolled her eyes. This is not the reaction I was expecting from the normally cheerful Publix employees, but I was in a really good mood and just let it slide as I continued piling my groceries onto the conveyor belt.
Her mood steadily darkened as she slowly scanned my groceries and the bagger inexplicably left to go assist another lane. My groceries were piling high at the end so I smiled and said “I guess I’ll help with this part” and started to bag my own groceries.
It was during this time that I noticed other shoppers coming into my lane, then seeing all my groceries, giving me a shitty look and moving on. I was like, I have the right to get a ton of groceries if I want! What the hell is their problem? I never get to grocery shop alone! Why are these people acting like this?
The cashier continued to grumble under her breath and shoot me dirty looks, so I apologized and said “Sorry I got so many groceries, I don’t usually get out alone so I stocked up.” She mumbled something about how “She just walked into this,” and didn’t lighten up at all.
And then finally I got it.
I looked up at the sign at the beginning of the aisle that announced this lane was “10 Items or Less.”
Dammit. I was being a total asshole.
Immediately I began to apologize for not seeing the sign. I apologized to everyone in line. I asked the grumpy cashier why she didn’t say anything?! She again mumbled something about “just walking into this.” I was trying to apologize and she was being a TOTAL JERK about it. So I told her “Well, at least I know what all the Poo Face was about.”
And then I was stuck there, my face flaming with embarrassment, with my mountain of groceries, Miss Publix Poo Face going as slow as possible, and a line of people glaring at me. As each person got fed up and left, or a new person arrived, I apologized and told them I didn’t see the sign. My good mood was gone, the cashier’s attitude was getting worse by the moment and I still had a pile of groceries to bag. Unfortunately not one person working there offered to help. Not one person gave me a sympathetic “we’ve all been there” smile. My fun shopping trip turned into a social anxiety nightmare.
It would be a few weeks before I felt like going into Publix again. I tried out a couple other grocery stores, but I really like our Publix and usually have a great experience there, so I knew I need to just get over it. These things are always bigger in your own head and I figured everyone had forgotten about it by then.
The point of this story is this: not everybody who acts like an asshole is doing it on purpose. We all make mistakes. Don’t be so quick to judge. And if you see a frazzled mom at the grocery store about to die of embarrassment for chrissakes offer to help or at least give her a friendly look. She could probably use it.