I have a firm belief that Hell exists.
And Hell is a grocery store parking lot.
Hell is also the checkout line.
When you enter the grocery store during peak hours, even though you know better and promise yourself you only need bananas and will be there for 5 minutes. You’re fooling yourself.
You will be there until the grocery store has released you from its chaotic clutches.
You must become a shining example of patience while shopping for avocados, yogurt and those bananas you keep forgetting to grab even though you’ve walked past them 6 times already.
Do you need oat milk? Sorry, there’s a shortage.
Looking to get a 12-pack of Mountain Dew? Weirdly, can’t have that either.
These are first-world problems I’m writing about, but my trip to the grocery store tonight gave me a new perspective.
On how humans probably spend a good chunk of our lifetime waiting in line and how that can bring out different sides to people.
You spot the impatient ones. The person playing games on their phone – oblivious to their surroundings. You’ll see the woman next to you loudly asking another where she found the Coca Cola – it was at the front of the store.
You’ll also find the gatekeeper.
The gatekeeper of the checkout line. He is usually a customer who has planted himself in a line and is not going to move under any circumstances and will try to direct other people to different places because he feels that’s his role to play. He wants order and to use his coupon on BOGO chips.
The grocery store at peak hours can be a great stress test and tonight I failed spectacularly. My social anxiety poked its head out unexpectedly and decided to take me on a rollercoaster ride. I kept my poker face and determined to play my role as the Mayor of Patienceville, I waited.
And waited. Watched more people check out and exit, back to their cars and to air that didn’t feel tension-filled or smell like rotisserie chicken.
As the Mayor of Patienceville, I was eventually rewarded with paying for my bananas and croissants. The nice cashier gave me back 75 cents in pennies and I just laughed and said thank you. The cashier sent me on my way and called “Next Victim!” Just kidding.
The grocery store will always find a way to test your patience, much like life and other people every day.
If we can place enough awareness on the fact that others reactions 99% of the time have nothing to do with us and everything to do with what they may be experiencing internally, we are better able to navigate interactions – no matter how brief and forgettable.
The checkout line may still be Hell, but I at least know my place in the unspoken Grocery Hierarchy – Mayor of Patience. What is your role in the waiting line?
I still hope that woman found the Coca-Cola.