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An Open Letter to the Woman Standing in Front of Me in Line at the Grocery Store

Dear Madam,

My name is Eric Kester, and I had the great misfortune of standing behind you in line at the supermarket. It may come as a surprise to you that I exist, as your leisurely pace and blatant disregard for those in line suggests you believe you are the only person living in this world. I was very much present, however, and I would be remiss to not point out several of your actions that provoked a range of unpleasant emotions from those behind you, from twinges of impatience to thoughts of suicide.

There were several factors that contributed to your unbearably slow checkout process, but perhaps the most influential was the sheer number of items in your cart. You purchased enough groceries to feed a small army*, though I assure you there are precious few instances in life that require 54 packs of string cheese. Maybe you have many children to feed, as suggested by your tired, sunken eyes and the industrial-sized packs of diapers in your cart. But I’ve noticed your preference for discounted frozen burritos, and I have to wonder if those receptacles aren’t actually for you. Regardless of your personal situation, it would have been nice if you recognized that I had only 11 items to your 262 and allowed me to step ahead of you –a common courtesy for a lowly bachelor who’s just trying to get by in a cruel world governed by 10 items or less.

*If you are, in fact, an army general acquiring rations for her troops, please accept my apology and disregard this letter.

The most egregious moment of your checkout process occurred just as the clerk was scanning your last remaining items. In an apparent epiphany, you suddenly realized that you neglected to pick up a third box of Teddy Grahams. You declared that you had to go back and procure this item, implying with the urgency of your voice that failure to do so would yield cataclysmic consequences. You then forced the entire line to wait as you waddled back into the aisles to pick up another box –a move that was, to be perfectly frank, complete bullshit. One would think that since you already acquired two boxes of crackers you would know exactly where to go for a third, but your journey took so long that some of us in line would have started to worry about your safety, had we not hated you.

My final complaint about your checkout behavior regards your actions after all your items were finally scanned. While most people would have utilized the time they stood in line to take out their wallets and prepare a method of payment, you seemed caught off guard when the clerk announced your total, as if it never occurred to you that this mountain of food might actually cost something. You stood agape a moment before opening your purse, digging through that dark chasm like an amateur archaeologist hunting for ancient treasure. You found many things –lipstick, a tampon, another box of Teddy Grahams –but you couldn’t seem to recover any form of American currency. It was a transcendent moment when you finally discovered your credit card –a miracle I would have been happier about, if I wasn’t busy suppressing murderous intentions.

I wasn’t altogether surprised when you couldn’t figure out how to use the self-swipe credit card machine. Typically I would be astounded at anyone who had difficulty operating such a simple and increasingly prevalent piece of technology, but during our extended time together I had concluded that you had the approximate I.Q of a beach ball. After the credit card machine humbled your intelligence, you pulled out your checkbook, but of course you did not have a pen.

Maybe at this point you’ll remember me –I was the guy who offered you a pen. In fact I gave you the very pen I used to write this letter, which I composed, edited, and redrafted while waiting in line behind you.

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