Living Between the Lines

Basket only…

The checkout operator had paused to alert a supervisor of a problem with her till. The lady in front of me had just loaded her shopping onto the conveyor belt and the customer being served was waiting to pay, I presume.
I was happy to wait and was rather enjoying the time to stand and observe those around me. (Those conversational gems might crop up, one never knows).
It was a busy Monday morning. Several tills were unmanned, clearly something the hovering supervisor was not happy with. He signalled for a young lad to man the till next to me. It was of no use to me of course, it displayed a, “baskets only” sign. My trolley was rather full.
No one joined the young lad at the basket checkout.
“Excuse me Madam, would you like to go to that one?” the supervisor appeared before me. I glanced uncertainly at the checkout next to us,
“That’s baskets only,” I reminded him.
“It doesn’t matter, you’ll be ages here, otherwise,” he told me, “go ahead, use that one,”
I was dubious about this instruction but far be it from me to question a supervisor. I trundled my trolley to the basket checkout and grinned at the young lad who stared at me blankly,
“I have been instructed to come here,” I smiled, nodding towards the supervisor who gave me the thumbs up.
The lad looked around. I was the only one near. He shrugged and waited as I began unloading my trolley. I had a lot of shopping.
That’s when the bearded man with the basket of several small items, joined the queue. I was aware that he had plonked the divider half way along the conveyor belt. I was still loading my shopping. How rude. I piled as much as I could into the now limited space and left the rest in the trolley as the lad had not yet begun ringing items through.
“I don’t have room to load it all, you had better start,” I instructed.
Without changing his expression, which was one of complete indifference, he began passing the goods through and I began throwing them into whatever bags I could grab from my half full trolley. It was a slow process as, in my attempt to fit everything I could on the conveyor belt, my normal neatly categorised items had spilled over into the wrong sections. To make matters worse, I am still not meant to carry heavy bags so had to use twice the usual number to make sure they were light enough for me to transport. The boy did not offer to help pack.
A female supervisor caught my attention to my left, as she called out sharply, more sharply than I thought necessary,
“Were you told to use this checkout? Only it is basket only.”
Bearded man looked smug and I thought he glared at me a little.
“Yes, I was told to use this one,” I confirmed.
“Oh, well,” she said, darting an accusing glance at both me and the other supervisor as though we were in cahoots.
By now, others with baskets had joined the queue. I continued to load the conveyor belt with the rest of the items in my trolly, having to slip them in before the bearded chap’s shopping took over.
“Oh dear,” I muttered to the bearded chap as the task became ever more difficult. He had the grace to smile but could not move his shopping back to allow me more room as his fellow basketeers had claimed the space by now.
I could feel several pairs of eyes boring into me and had to fight a sudden urge to laugh. The checkout lad displayed no such problem and continued to scan my mismatched items without so much as a smirk.
As the last items landed in my shopping bags which were now sitting, a little haphazardly, in the empty trolley, I prepared to pay.
As I pushed my bank card into the machine and punched in my pin, I smiled at the young lad serving,
“Now you are going to have to explain to all those people that I was sent here, and that’s why they’ve all been kept waiting,” I told him and you know what? He grinned.
If you were one of those people standing in the Sainsbury’s checkout this morning, with your bag of apples, sandwich and a bottle of milk or whatever else fits into a basket, I can only apologise but it wasn’t my fault – I was sent!

I am an Author, wife to one, mother to five and grandmother to six. I live in the English countryside in Hampshire, UK, with my husband and two dogs and am a non exec Director for Glow


    • Debbie

      My pleasure Julia – made all the more ironic as i would no more think of doing this than driving up the hard shoulder to avoid a traffic jam! Made me smile anyway.

  • hilarymb

    Hi Debbie – I feel for you … but quite understand the dilemma you were in – I’m somewhat surprised the supervisor didn’t come over to help and explain … and the lad was obviously just learning and had no people skills.

    But fun story … I had it the other way round … when my Ma was ill and I was exhausted I was standing with my basket in line … very happily being still and quiet and letting my space come back to my brain … and just being.

    When a supervisor appeared and asked if I’d like to go to the self-scan thing … first I was interrupted and secondly no I didn’t want to do my own scanning … I was polite as I said no thanks!

    I hope you’re still healing reasonably comfortably … take care – cheers Hilary

  • patricia60

    I just feel stressed when this kind of maneuver happens to me and then kind of bummed out the rest of the day. Even if you have to stand in a long line, the supervisor never lets one move to the 12 items or less line (baskets) if one has a full cart. The other customers are so noisy and rude ( not very British or Canadian about it) and those self-check out scanner always I end up having to have a supervisor come to clear the problem. When we were shopping in San Fransisco last year there were only self scan aisle – only and I was only purchasing 3 things and my card would not work. I had to use all my cash and then find a bank to get more cash as we were traveling – that also brought out my nervous tendencies – I was a wreck. At least I did not need to drive!!!
    Good storytelling!

    • Debbie

      Oh dear, only a self scan aisle? Yikes! I tend to find the whole situation of the self scan comical these days if I have to go through one. “Unidentified item in bagging area” is a favourite of mine. I refuse to become flustered though I am frequently amazed that the supervisors of these machines will stand next to you as you put your goods through, waiting for you/it to fail. madness! Thanks for your comment!

  • Teresa Ashby

    Oh dear, I just knew you were going to say someone with a basket turned up at the wrong moment. It was just mean of him to make it awkward – and
    he probably caused himself a bigger delay in the process. At least you got a grin out of the lad 🙂 xx

    • Debbie

      Eventually! LOL! I think it was his first week on the till – I haven’t checked to see if he is still there – I did my shopping online this week. Much safer 🙂 XX

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