Shopping for Fish - Fishing for Compliments

Lately I've noticed another quirky thing about the way I live my life. I know, some days it would be hard to get much quirkier, but I've managed to do it. Turns out I can define the phases of my life based on my selection of grocery store checkout workers.

0-Preteen: The choice was wholly up to my mother. But I believe this time was spent scoping out the pros and cons to each type of checker. This research would prove helpful in later selection strategies.

Preteen (loosely defined as 9-13): This is the time when you're too young to drive yourself to the store, but you might be trusted by your mom to "run in and get some milk." Even though all 60-80 lbs. of me were barely big enough to carry 1/10th of my weight in milk, I loved the feel of that five dollar bill flapping in my hand across the parking lot. And there was usually enough change left to get some of that decadent Bubbalicious gum (smelly grape, of course.) Can you believe you used to shove three pieces of that in your mouth at once? Or was that just me? It was about this time that boys started to look attractive in my world. So, at this age it wasn't about the checker as much as about the bag boy. Line selection time was directly proportional to cuteness level of the bag boy waiting at the end. My flirting technique at this age was to glare at a boy or act as if I didn't know they existed (all the while sending telepathic messages to said bag boy to notice me), so my success rate for attention wasn't that high.

Teen (14-18): By now most of the cute bag boys had been promoted to checkers. You'd think I would've had it made. But as a teenage girl the necessity for buying "unmentionables" is frequent. How horrifying to have a teenage boy see you buying tampons or worse yet, concealer. Although the blemishes on my face were clear as day, concealer or not, I was convinced that if they didn't know I was buying concealer they would never know my face was truly an oil slick. Best checker choice for teen shopping? Old ladies or other teenage girls. The old ladies would smile proudly at my tampons and then at me, happy that another girl had entered the coven of womanhood. The teenage girls were usually sympathetic compatriots, complimenting me on my choice of "Peaches N' Cream" nailpolish, and rolling their eyes at the desperate attempts of the recently promoted bag boys to get our attention.

College (18-21): College brought a new set of unmentionables to be purchased. Namely, alcohol. Although I tried to get boys (older boys) to fund the majority of my liquid purchases, there were a few desperate occasions. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Checkout selection was based on least likely to question my fake ID (Sorry, Mom. I guess the secret's out after all these years.) This usually meant choosing the dirty old man that you avoid like the plague for any other purchase. A pointedly directed smile could usually guarantee that I looked exactly like the 23-year old from Cincinnati, OH on my license.

Post-college/Newlywed: I was young. I had things to do, people to see. And no time to wait around in the grocery store for chatty old women or moms wanting to write checks. Why, oh why do people insist on writing checks? That's what debit cards were invented for, people. A trick learned at this age. Scan the lines and choose the second shortest. The shortest line is usually a fluke. It never fails that you pick it and get stuck with the new guy who can't tell the difference between a tangerine and a kumquat. I don't blame him because no one actually knows what a kumquat looks like (admit it, it's just fun to say -- Kum-quat, kum-quat. See? Fun, eh?). This is why they invented the mystery code for cash registers. Make it up. Don't call for a price check on kumquats aisle four. Just type in the mystery code and charge me 50 cents each. I don't care how much I have to pay so long as I'm not waiting for Jolene to run across the store for a quick price check on tomatillos.

New Motherhood: Now that I'm the mother of the boy that I deem to be the cutest in the world. (Pardon me for being just a little bit bias.), I love going to the grocery store. I'm no longer hiding my unmentionables, but showing off my mentionable, if you will. Line selection is based solely on gender and age of the checker. I give my money to the checker who is most likely to ooh and aah over my son. Men are usually out because they rarely notice. They are too intent on making their item per second scanning quota in order to get their name on the "Employee of the Month" board. The chatty old women that I despised as a newlywed, I adore as a new mom. So I take the extra few minutes in a slightly longer line just so I can hear how adorable my son is. Sad, I know, but you take your compliments where you can get them. Although I might be the mom who's holding you up as the checker makes over my kid, I WILL NEVER be the mom who's holding you up because I'm writing a check. I may fish for compliments, but I do have my standards.

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