Learning how other people live is one of the great joys of travel. It enriches your life and generally makes you understand humanity and appreciate home more. But it can also get weird, the kind of experience that makes you think deeply. Or write about it on a garbage blog penned by a closet lunatic.
In America when you get fruits or vegetables at the grocery, the checkout cashier is the one who enters the appropriate code, weighs / counts the produce, and determines the price you pay. Where I currently live, there is a separate and distinct produce counter that performs this function.
I learned this the hard way when I first showed up at the till and they got mad at me. I actually kind of like this process a lot better. Though America will never change to it because we prefer the brute force method.
In America, depending on what caliber of cashier you get, you can spend a long time just sitting there while they confusingly look up the appropriate four digit produce code. I buy a heroic amount of fruits and vegetables so this is a big deal for me. When you have a tailored produce cashier, it’s all they do, and so they fly. They know the codes cold, and it’s nice and quick.
Anyways, yesterday I get in line at the produce checkout. I’ve got fifteen or so items. I’m behind a middle-aged housewife who has more than me. The checkout lady is doing her thing. I lay out my items behind the housewife and wait my turn. Then a guy steps up next to me and puts his one bag on the counter in front of mine.
So essentially this guy has cut in line without saying a word to me. A foreigner like me, he looks like a bald Jeremy Corbyn (which probably explains his behavior). Without saying a word, I give this guy the death eyes. This causes him to mumble something and pick up his bag. Then a series of thoughts occurred in my simpleton brain in quick succession:
– Why are you making an issue of this? It really doesn’t matter. We humans are all just shadows and dust. Your bleached skeleton status awaits.
– Is there some local custom where since I have like fifteen things, and he has just one, that he can cut in line and it’s just cool, he doesn’t have to say anything?
– Or, even if he’s just a jerk, who cares? Be the better man.
So after I got two of my produce scanned, I stopped the checkout lady, and motioned to Jeremy to get his one item scanned. He nodded thank you and moved on. And I’m left to ponder my thoughts about culture and morality and whatever.
BUT, then I turn around and see there are six people in line behind me. Some of them have only one or two items too. And, some of them are elderly. So it’s not culture, it’s just this guy was a jerk. He was just probably a guy who takes candy from street urchins on the 1835 Paris streets.
Dude should have gotten in line like everyone else.
That’s it! My Guests and I shall summon our good old friend Enforcement Drone Version 2.09 (ED209) as our assistant in resolving this matter. We’ll enforce the customs of this foreign land on our own!
Jeremy wrongly cuts in produce checkout line. ED209 saunters up and wryly comments to the individual in his stale robot voice.
ED209: ATTENTION SIR, THERE IS A LINE. CAN YOU NOT SEE THE ELDERLY INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE PATIENTLY WAITING WHILE YOU ARE NOT? WHY DO YOU HATE THE ELDERLY? HOW DO YOU SLEEP AT NIGHT?
ED209 walks up, observes Jeremy has cut in line. ED209 then activates his video streaming device.
ED209: ATTENTION SIR, THIS INCIDENT HAS BEEN RECORDED ON VIDEO, WITH SPECIAL ATTENTION PAID TO THE FACES OF THE ELDERLY THAT YOU CUT AHEAD OF. COPIES OF THIS INCIDENT WILL BE PROVIDED TO ALL RELEVANT MEMBERS OF YOUR EXTENDED FAMILY. REPEAT COPIES WILL BE MAILED TO THEM ON ALL YOUR FUTURE BIRTHDAYS.
ED209 walks up and shoots the individual in the kneecap.
ED209: YOU ARE IN VIOLATION OF OUR ESTABLISHMENT’S PRODUCE SANITARY STANDARDS. WE WILL INSIST YOU PAY FULL PRICE FOR YOUR BLOOD SPATTERED FRUIT. WE WILL DENY ENTRY TO YOUR PERSON IN THE FUTURE TO AVOID FURTHER COMPLICATIONS.
Jeremy cuts in line. When he gets back to his car he finds ED209 has combusted it in an orgy of fire and flames.
ED209: YOU WILL NOW BE ASSESSED THE VARIOUS FEES ASSOCIATED WITH THE FORTHCOMING FIRE DEPARTMENT RESPONSE, THE SCRAP STEEL REMOVAL FEES, AND VARIOUS GENERAL ENVIRONMENTAL FINES.
ED209 forces him to sit down for a five hour chat on the various moral considerations involved with cutting in line, making a clear case for the values of a balanced ethical society.
ED209 observes Jeremy, offers no comment or correction, hoping over time the individual in question establishes some type of internal corrective action guided by conscience.
Which ones of these will work? I’ll let you decide.
“Great work at the produce checkout today. Fist bump, my brother!” [ED209 shatters every bone in my hand; my screams are heard in the grocery parking lot]