Perfect: A Chipmunk’s Trip to the Grocery Store

While I was a sophomore and junior in college, I worked as a grocery checker (amongst other roles) at a number of different grocery stores. I actually really enjoyed the job. But, as a result of doing that for a number of years, I have this…problem.

I am awkward as a customer at a grocery check out. Like, really awkward. I feel this bizarre need to be overly friendly. And I can feel it happening – like some sort of weird reflex.

Unrelated: I don’t have normal reflexes. Never has a doctor bounced that weird little rubber hammer on my knee and made my knee move. Not once. I might need to Google that

Accompanying my checkout weirdness includes: sweaty palms, a lot of laughing at jokes that aren’t funny, speaking in a high-pitched tone that is clearly not my normal speaking voice, and overstated pleasantries. Odds are you’ll hear me say the words “fantastic”, “no problem at all,” and “perfect!” at least once each.

Actual checkout conversation that occurred the other day after I had waited a very long time for the person in front of me to try to figure out the chip reader (and ultimately paid in cash because she couldn’t work it out).

Cashier: “Thank you for your patience. That machine is more trouble than good!”

Me: (voice high-pitched, like a chipmunk) “That’s not problem at all! I’m here without kids, so, in fact, it was, like, a freaking blessing because it got me more time out by myself.” (awkward, high-pitched, chipmunk laughing)


Cashier: “Haha. Boy, you have a lot of produce. I’m new…I’m going to have to look up all these codes.”

Me: (still in chipmunk mode) “Oh, that’s totally super. Glad I came in your line so you could get more practice.” (More laughing. And I’m definitely smiling too big. I can feel my cheeks) 

Note: Watching the checker look up every item makes me feel itchy. In my head I’m screaming 4011! The code for bananas is 4011! But on the outside, my face still hurts, so I must be smiling.

Cashier: “Your total is $106.15.”

Me: (still a chipmunk) “That’s perfect. Great. Thank you.”

Note: Why do I always tell the cashier my total is perfect? Always.good-its-perfect

Next time I’m going to try just nodding a lot. Maybe if I don’t speak I can ward off the impending chipmunk. Or, I’ll eat a candy bar while I’m checking out. Yes, more candy. That may be the answer to all my shopping woes.


Bacon: We know you were a spelling bee champion and chose chemistry over art in high school to ensure you got the “Easy A” (weirdo). But tell us, did you ever fail a test? How did you handle it?

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