I have a tendency to compare stores and supermarkets. Walmart is Walmart, although in England it is known as Asda Walmart. Randalls is Safeway. HEB is an enigma. Some HEB's are like Waitrose, considered a touch above the average, and others are like Sainsbury's and Tesco. When I travel home, I live in Supermarkets, and the space where I have to write WHAT I am bringing back into the States, on the custom form, always reads 'Chips and Candy', (as opposed to Crisps and Sweets, which always causes confusion at Customs - there does not seem to be an equivalent of Crisps) and the amount is generally a staggering $100 to $150. Amazing as it may seem to spend so much money on junk food, this has to be rationed over six months and is also handed out as presents. Even though Cadbury has sold out to the USA, I am confident their sales will dip tremendously if they change their recipe! Cadbury's licensed by Hershey's is just not the same.
It doesn't seem to matter where I shop, or which store has the better bargain, I always seem to come across the same family. Mainly women, the Scanner family have taken an instant dislike to me. In Tesco's, Mrs Scanner seems to think I am deaf. 'Unidentified item in the baggage area', she screams, and everyone in the shop turns and stares. With all eyes upon me, I remove my gloves, which I have placed on top of the newspaper. I know what my gloves are, they are not unidentified. 'They are my gloves', I find myself whispering, rather loudly, back at her, and the sharp intake of breath that is heard behind me announces the fact that you do not argue with Mrs. Scanner.
Mrs Scanner and her sisters-in-law, are married to the Scanner brothers, who play the tuba; they are responsible for the sound you hear when you walk out of a shop, and the assistant has failed to remove all the electronic tags. Presumably the reason for Mrs Scanner using the loud voice, is because she has to be heard over the rather boisterous musical instrument!
The family are, it would appear, internationally based and are, it would also appear, multi-lingual. Much as I try to avoid confrontation by lining up at a checkout that is manned by a human being, there are times when it is just not practical. It is usually when I am running behind schedule, and the only till open is the one for 'baskets', do I have to resort to using the self-service checkout, which inevitably leads to altercation.
Whilst in England, having bought an inordinate amount of chocolate and twiglets the previous day, we returned to the supermarket. I cannot remember exactly why we returned, but I could not leave without checking the aisle containing the very high calorie cocoa covered snacks. There were three or four tubes of deliciousness that were calling my name and begging for an aeroplane ride. Heading towards the front of the shop, I noticed, to my horror, that the queues were very long and each person was stocking up in case of famine. The only aisle available was the self-service. The customer in front of me was packing her shopping into bags, but had a few items remaining on the counter. I scanned my first item and placed it on the side.
'Place the item on the conveyor belt', demanded Mrs Scanner. Ignoring her, I scanned my next item. 'Place the item on the conveyor belt, before continuing', she said with frightening authority. I told her that I didn't want to place my items on the belt, as the lady had not finished packing. Immediately, the screen displayed the words, 'Call an assistant'. I wasn't going to give in so easily, so I told her that I had no intention of calling an assistant. The lady in my aisle was still deciding what to do with her newly bought beautiful orchid lily, which was standing at the end of the belt, as I decided that it was useless to argue with the assertive voice emitting from inside her silver house. I did as I was told, put my tube of Rollo's onto the belt, and watched it roll down the conveyor belt, like a bowling ball heading for the skittles, which in this case was a beautiful orchid lily. Did the Rollo's make contact with the lily? Let's just say that if I was in a bowling alley, I would have achieved a strike!
It would have been useless to try and explain, 'she made me do it'. The lady at the end of the aisle was not impressed. With looks that would turn milk sour from one end of the aisle, and Mrs Scanner shrieking at me to either insert my card or pay by cash, I refrained from expressing my sincere apologies to my fellow customer, which were not being accepted, and fed Mrs Scanner a ten pound note. Mrs S was still not satisfied, and she continued to treat me with very little courtesy, as she quite bluntly told me that my change would appear below with my receipt. I should have chosen a different language when starting to use the machine. She may continue to shout but, hopefully, no one would understand her.
I have tried to be polite but the response is always the same. Explaining that I want to skip bagging and that unidentified objects are usually separated by the word 'flying', usually only antagonises and I don't believe I will every be quick enough when it comes to remitting my payment.
The Scanner family will no doubt continue to grow, and will continue to terrorise the shoppers. I will continue to lead the resistance and shout, 'vive le revolution', when told to scan my first item. I may remain the 'gang of one', but I act in the best interest of all.
Fortunately, the family members placed at the airport are too shy to talk, and checking in for my trip was more pleasant than buying chocolate, but that is....another story.