As a child I highly appreciated the express line in the supermarket checkout. Instead of standing in line for half an hour, holding my painstakingly chosen bar of chocolate, in between two old ladies who would bump into me repeatedly with their with enormous trolleys and shout at me, hoping I would go away, I could now stand in line for only fifteen minutes in between two old ladies, who would still shout at me, but without the threat of trolley violence.
The three item maximum meant that all they usually had to pay for was a loaf of un-sliced bread (they didn’t have self-service bread slicing machines in the supermarkets back then) and a dripping plastic bag of milk (cartons were yet to be heard of; glass bottles had not long been discarded).
And then one day, years later, I was standing in line at the express with my maximum three items, when I suddenly noticed that the lady in front of me had (gasp!) five items. I managed to make a complete fool of myself, before she smirked and pointed at the sign: Five items maximum. Oysh.
That was the beginning of the end. There should have been a law passed right there and then in the Knesset about the three item maximum, they should have stopped it before it got out of hand. Because if one thing is certain, and not a lot is certain in this life, it’s that it’s been all down hill since then. The five item maximum was soon six, and then eight. Now it’s ten.
These days it’s quicker to stand behind a woman with three trolleys holding the week’s groceries for a family of TEN than trying for the (no longer) express line.
But I haven’t given up on special counters yet. I have a foolproof idea to solve all aggravation in the supermarket: The Suckers’ Line (in Hebrew = frayerim, a word guaranteed to deter undesirables).
This is the line for people like me, who would rather wait in line for two hours with two items, behind that woman with the three trolleys, I mentioned before, only in triplicate, than to have to contend with the following (who will, of course, be strictly banned from the Suckers’ Line):
People who park their trolleys in line with two items in it, then proceed to gradually fill it up with the rest of their shopping, going off and coming back with more and more items, as their place in the queue moves nearer to its destiny.
People who hide baskets with groceries underneath those stands they always put by the counters with things you really don’t need but your kids can’t resist (those will be banned from the Suckers’ Line as well), and then come back after half an hour, produce their baskets as from thin air and demand to be let in before everyone in the line because they were there first.
People who park their trolley in one queue and then go and stand in another, because how are they to know which queue will be faster.
People who go through the so-called express line with fifteen to twenty items, and the checkout workers who allow them to.
People who think the express line is a place you go to get rid of the very smallest of your change, for which they have to dig to the very bottom of their very full purses (‘I’m sure I had another five agorot piece down there somewhere’).
And last but certainly not least:
People who ram their trolleys into particularly small nine-year-old girls.
I know, I’m dreaming.