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Checkout Line Anxiety

I never sweat as much as I do when I’m unloading food onto the conveyor belt at the grocery store.

It’s true.

I’ve discovered after many years of being an adult and doing my own shopping, it’s after 11 am when cashiers zone out and get into that robo-mode of snapping up your food as soon as you place it down and sometimes it’s right from your hand. And that gun of theirs. I swear I’ve seen them zap items from their tool belt as if they were John Wayne.


“3.99 a pound for chicken breasts”

Pam you’re good, sometimes I want to say.

They’re just a snapping and a swiping and throwing everything twenty feet down the line.

Perhaps they even did a double take on your newborn baby after they wanted to scan its wrinkly ass forehead because they thought it resembled a potato.

Baby’s sometimes do resemble a sack of potatoes Pam.

I feel you.

Mine looked like an orange Oompa Loompa for 2 months.

This is the part where my husband tells me I get too dramatic and my anxiety is over the top when I shop.

And yes Shawn and everyone.

I have an anxiety disorder which makes shopping a little bit harder or A LOT HARDER or ABSOLUTELY TERRIFYING for me than most people.

For almost 9 years it’s been like this.

On Mondays I make meal plans and then detailed lists of what I need. I venture to the store that is on the outskirts of our city and I usually make it there before 11. Any time after, it’s chaos. I can’t think about what bananas look the best or what lettuce looks…or is that person following me to this aisle….did I forget the bre–I need that….why is it so crowded?…the kid wanted granola…I needed bread…

I panic so much that I usually just grab what I can and make a mad dash to the checkout line.

Anyways, the checkout line is the worst after 11.

The lines are long and the patience of everyone is so short. I don’t want to be that guy who disrupts the cashier’s mojo and holds up the rest of the line – invoking all that sighing.

That sighhheeeeeeee huuuuuuuuuuuuueeeeeeeinnnggg.

It sounds like a bitchy Darth Vader.

Kind of like the way your mother in law’s eye balls sound when they roll 360 degrees in the back of her head when you do something “horribly wrong” but in the mother department.

Don’t worry my dad’s sound the exact same way.

So there I am. Sweating. Conveyor belt is rolling.

Pam is waiting for my goods. Dick behind me (I just named the man behind me that) is waiting to unload his.

So I quickly launch my vegetables and fruit – just kidding, who eats that healthy?

Here’s my ice cream and carbs and more carbs and boxes of carby carbs.

I go so fast that I actually considered buying a pair of patterned leggings because dammit, this is a workout.

For the record, I also considered a perm once.

My heart hurts.

Don’t stop until the cashier stops, the little voice in my head says

Or that little voice under the cart says, “Mom, my arm is stuck in the shopping cart.”

“Pardon me?” I joked back.

“My arm is really stuck in here. It really is!” Chunky Monkey panicked.

He did not look this cute when it happened

I looked at Pam who did this double blink judge thing with her glitter flecked eyelids and kept on scanning my things.

“His arm is stuck in the cart,” I said to her. Still no response from Pam.

I looked down and my kid had wriggled his entire arm through the spindle of the cart.

“How does this even happen?”

“Well you kind of do it like this,” and he proceeded to try it with the other.

“Please stop doing this,” I looked over and my stuff started to pile.

Dick had his meat all over the place.

My kid started rattling off some very valid questions, “Are they going to have to call the fire department? Are they going to have to cut my arm off? Am I going to live with one arm now? Will you leave me here?”

Pam, who now sucked my entire soaking sweating left summer armpit at zapping things with her tool belt gun, the cashier kept snatching my things and launching my food into a leaning tower at the end of the conveyor belt.

And just I stood there.

Trying to remember what aisle the butter was in.

And wondering if Pam was going to make me pay for it.


*We were actually able to wriggle his arm out in like a minute but it felt like an eternity. All of my food had to be tossed into the cart and not in bags because it was Dick’s turn. I was literally soaking wet by the time we left the grocery store. Pam did not help bag my things. My kid will never try this stunt again…probably next week.

** No I am not slamming people who are cashiers in grocery stores. That is a difficult job I can only imagine. I see the hard work you do. I really do. The reason I go to cashier lanes is because MOST help me bag my items because on top of my anxiety I have chronic pain and they lift my bags. They’re gems. Also in the early morning, I enjoy their banter. I usually go to the same cashiers. PAM though…you’re something else. Also, that’s not her real name. And maybe Pam is not a Pam. Maybe Pam is a man. Or not.


This is linked up to Mama Kat’s Workshop –

Prompt: Soaked

Mama’s Losin’ It


  1. I don’t enjoy grocery shopping, or any shopping for that matter all that much and try to avoid it as much as I can. My husband actually enjoys it so I try to send him or the boy, who is of driving age, to do my bidding.

    • Kimberly Kimberly

      If Shawn enjoyed grocery shopping, OMG…..I would be so happy. But I think he hates it just as equally as much as I do.

  2. Maybe Pam the maybe or not man is most of the cashiers I encounter (but it’s becuase I can only go after work unless it’s the weekend and by then, evvvvvvvveryone is ridiculous). I don’t like it when the belt moves before I get all my stuff up there. I just don’t. it makes me anxious because I assume the person ahead of me will steal my stuff if the bag is put where their bags are sitting. Stop moving the damn belt. And bag my shit (if you’re a cashier who helps bag) the way I put it up. I put all the boxed shit together. I put the meats together. Don’t put the damn meat in with the juice EVEN IF you put it in its own special plastic bag of unnecessariness. Also? I’m your opposite. I don’t wan the banter; I just want to be out. (I used to really enjoy grocery shopping. It’s filled with indecisive cursing and single jalapeno stealing now because I don’t need a whole bag of jalapenos, I just don’t.)

    • Kimberly Kimberly

      Your comment is the funniest thing I have ever read – where in the world are you buying jalapeno in a bag? I have never seen this. EVER. In my area you’re lucky to find one and if they’re not rotted. I’m not even lying. Funny story…Shawn made bacon infused vodka with jalapeno peppers at Christmas. That’s the joke. No it isn’t. Anyways, my dad for whatever reason took a big gulp of the stuff and I swear he died like 19 times. Turns out the jalapenos that I was supposed to get weren’t really jalapeno peppers. They were some other hybrid peppers that were like 100x that. You can’t trust me to shop. I can’t be trusted.

  3. There are always WAY too many people at the grocery store when I go, and for some reason, everyone always wants to talk to me, and I just want to be left alone!!

    • Kimberly Kimberly

      Someone told me to wear headphones when I go. I do this sometimes and it does help!

  4. I wish my grocery store bagged my groceries. That hasn’t happened in years. I am always in a panic rush to get them all bagged before the cashier is putting someone’s other stuff down my side. UGH. Thank goodness for online shopping.

    • Kimberly Kimberly

      It’s only in the early morning when they help me. After a certain time – forget it. You’re on your own. It’s that panic to get everything on the conveyor belt and into the bags that kills me. Blah! We are finally getting online shopping. They just posted signs this weekend!

  5. Oh gosh, yes, some cashiers really are the worst and make you feel so weird/self conscious. And your poor son! My nephew would probably do something like that!


    • Kimberly Kimberly

      My kid gets himself in the most awkward predicaments. He’s a boy that’s for sure!

  6. I’m in the minority I actually don’t mind grocery shopping.

    Our local grocery store was rebuilt to be a bigger store with more amenities. Today was the opening day. I actually ventured into the store. I could get lost in there. It’s huge with a Starburcks, hot bar, and a bar.

    Great story.

    Have a great week.

    • Kimberly Kimberly

      I went today (Monday) and it wasn’t that bad. Right at 8:30 am. Ours doesn’t have a Starbucks but it does have a wine rack so I think that makes up for it 😉
      I hope that you have a great week too Traci!

  7. Mar Mar

    Ugh check out line anxiety is real! Especially when you are trying to juggle a toddler that is trying to eat her way through the food in the cart and price match at the same time.

    (p.s. not sure if you’re aware – there is an error box where you signature should be. Frustrating photo bucket, I just went through the same thing with the images on my blog.)

    • Kimberly Kimberly

      OH the toddler juggling is something I don’t miss for one second. They have octopus limbs at checkout. Grabbing all the gum and candy and magazines and then digging into the grapes all at once. Like how did you get all these arms kid?
      And thanks for letting me know about the photobucket thing. Its from the linkup with MAma Kat. It’s her badge thingy. I appreciate you letting me know!!!

  8. Grocery shopping is probably my least favorite necessary task, so to add anxiety on top of it – I feel for you.

    Yet, you manage to write about a mundane thing in such an entertaining way.
    You had me at “Dick had his meat all over the place”

    May that be the last of the stuck arms.

    • Kimberly Kimberly

      You caught that one eh 😉
      Hee hee.

  9. kat kat

    Don’t kids just push us to the brink of our own discomfort? We want to fly under the radar at ALL times and then our kids go and get stuck and make us interact with humans. I applaud you for your weekly trip and for also knowing exactly what time to go to make it a little more bearable.

    • Kimberly Kimberly

      When they make us interact with humans…OMG yes…when they do that thing they do…looking all cute and wave at someone. GAH! Don’t make eye contact kid!

  10. I go on week day mornings, my anxiety is waaay too high to attempt this on the weekends. I do the self check out though, so i can usually take my time and not have to interact with anyone. The struggle is real!

    • Kimberly Kimberly

      Weekday mornings is where it’s at. Monday’s especially!
      I have tried the self checkouts and girl, let me tell you….I’ve never cursed so much at a machine in my life. EVER. “I did scan it. I scanned it. See. I’m scanning it. Scanned. MOTHER EFFFFER” HAHAAH!!!

  11. This is why I am so thankful that my grocery store has self checkouts. Not that I’m one of those assholes who use the self checkout for my entire 20+ item grocery trip. I would never do that just to avoid talking to the cashier and dealing with other people in line. Nope. Not at all….

    • Kimberly Kimberly

      Guess whose grocery store is getting self checkouts in September?

  12. I HATE shopping with my 3 kids but since my husband is a truck driver and its summer right now, its no bueno! When I was an army wife, it was a rule that the 1st and the 15th was not even a good time to go to the commissary and if you have anxiety, you definitely don’t want to go!


    It’s a vacation if you can go by yourself!

    • Kimberly Kimberly

      Oh my…I can’t even imagine going to the store with three kids. No. Nope. Nah. I’d pull my hair out. I don’t know how you do it. One is hard enough.

  13. Checkout lines have this effect on me, too. I always wonder if it’s a New York/New Jersey thing, because people here are always in such a friggin hurry, but sounds like you got your own Dicks and Pams too. LOL Chunky. Glad he got his arm back. He just wanted to lighten the mood, that one 🙂

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