Ten Items Or Less

I’d just finished a perfect day of holiday shopping with my mom when we decided to head over to the Super Target on Miramar Parkway for a few items I needed for the week.

The store was packed with last-minute holiday shoppers and every check out line was crammed with carts filled to the brim.

I wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible so I zipped around the aisles getting what I had come to get. Two cases of water, 12 yogurts, one tin of almonds and a loaf of rye bread later, I jumped on the express line to check out my purchases.

As I was about to start putting my groceries on the conveyor, a man with a single box of Ronzoni pasta came up behind me.

I began placing the yogurts on the conveyor two-by-two.

“Two!” yelled the man behind me.

I placed two more on the conveyor.

“Four!” he bellowed.

On the conveyor went the two strawberry yogurts.

“Six!” screamed the now familiar voice behind me.

By now, I’d figured out where he was coming from. Apparently he was a nember of the 10 Items Or Less Police and my yogurts counted not as one item, but 12. An arrest was imminent.

In the spirit of the holiday season, I smiled and kept my mouth shut.

I picked up one of the cases of water and placed the bar code near the register so the cashier could scan it.

“I have another one of those underneath the cart,” I told the young lady who was ringing up my purchases. She double scanned the first case to signal two of the same item.

A case of water has 24 bottles. The guy behind me had counted to 36.

I must confess that by now what my partner calls my “New York Attitude” was going South. But I was not about to let this guy ruin my otherwise perfect day.

“You count really well, sir,” I said to him.

He grumbled something unintelligible. My mom, who was witnessing all this at the end of the counter was laughing in disbelief.

“Santa is not going to be very good to you this year, sir,” she said.

“Will that be all?” the cashier asked me.

“No,” I replied. “I’d like to pay for his pasta.”

“She doesn’t have to pay for my pasta,” Mr. Grumpy screamed. “But she better pay for that case of water underneath her cart!”

In his frenzy to count the number of bottles of water in a case, he had missed it when the cashier double scanned the case inside my cart. Since no one was paying attention to his counting, Mr. Grumpy was now accusing me of stealing water.

To make sure I had been charged for both cases, I asked the cashier in a voice loud enough for everyone in the store to hear, “You charged me for both cases, didn’t you?”

“Yes, ma’am,” said the patient young lady.

I turned to Mr. Grumpy and in my best happy holidays voice I said:

“Do you realize that if you weren’t so busy trying to accuse me of something, you could be home enjoying your pasta right now?”

He was speechless. In fact, I think I saw a smile on his face. By now everyone was staring at him like he was crazed.

“Lighten up, dude,” someone behind him said.

Indeed.

But the universe wasn’t done playing it’s holiday tricks on me.

As mom and I walked out of the store, I heard the cashier behind me say, “Ma’am, you have his pasta in your cart!”

I looked down and there was the Ronzoni box laughing up at me.

“Oh, no! Did I steal his pasta!”

“No, ma’am, it was my mistake,” said the cashier who was having a hard time keeping a straight face.

Mr. Grumpy grabbed his box and walked out behind me.

“Happy Holidays,” I said to him. “You know, I really love pasta.”

Sad to say, I didn’t get an invitation to dinner.

As we enter a new year, let’s remember not to sweat the small stuff.

Oh, and one more thing … If you need a box of pasta, don’t go to the Super Target two days before Christmas to buy it.

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