Life lessons from the checkout stand

Healthy groceriesThank you so much, Mr. Albertson’s Checker, for your thoughtfulness this evening. After taking time to inquire about my day and whether I’d found everything I needed, you complimented my clever cell phone cover/credit card holder combo case as I swiped my card.

… And followed that up with just a smidge of concern for my well-being.

“You ever think about disconnecting from the grid?”

Don’t worry, Mr. Checker. Your comment didn’t come across as pompous at all. I could feel the concern coming off you in waves, from your knitted brow to your bushy-bearded half smirk.

And, no actually. I’ve not ever thought about disconnecting from the grid. Why would I do that? I had a whole lifetime off the grid before coming up with the fabulous idea to have my iPhone permanently attached to my palm, à la Edward Scissorhands. It’s not inconvenient at all, see? I can still wiggle my fingers. I didn’t overly use that paw anyway. It’s not like I need it to spread a dollop of beard grease evenly on both hands to get the proper film with which to coat the devil-may care, recently windblown and absent-mindedly brushed back into place face full of hair you’ve got to wrangle with.

So, your worry is misplaced.

Or maybe you’ve taken my phone as a sign I’m not connecting properly with my fellow humans. It’s a valid enough concern, and not douchey of you at all to point out that I may be missing huge swaths of valuable interaction by planting my face on my screen and keeping it there.

How could you know I’ve uploaded a handy meme generator app to instantly translate every human interaction into the appropriate baby fist-pump or Willy Wonka raised eyebrow, giving me a handy cache of pithy responses to almost any situation in which I find myself face to face with an actual person? In fact, my connection to the grid lets me completely dispense with small talk when I would rather be killing it in Candy Crush or watching someone’s toddler Nae Nae on YouTube.

baby_memeOr was it condescension rather than concern I heard in your voice? Did you not know that people of my age were around for the advent of the microwave and cable television? As I said, I have lived off the grid, son, and it was no picnic. Before GPS, we had to ask directions from gas station attendants. We had to read actual street signs. You ever think about that? Those were dark days. There were things like pleated jeans and banana clips and the freaking Brat Pack. How could you even bring that up? Have some pity.

You should know I have no small amount of anxiety for you, oh young, bearded guru, lest you use up all your faux concern on me, saving none for your next, tired, caustic customer. Parse out your checker scorn carefully, regularly refueling your self righteousness with your favorite grande kale/PBR smoothies and copious debriefing sessions with your whole, hipster posse while you all bask in that special sense of superiority that comes with knowing everything at such a tender age.

As for me, know that while I stood there, searching for some bitingly succinct response in the ten seconds before it would have become awkward had I not moved on with my canvas bags, my failure to do so was less a function of my inability to yank myself out of the grid long enough to engage my creativity than a need to get home in time to make dinner, respond to client’s frantic email message, remind one kid to hustle to his violin lessons on time and another to pull out his homework. In short, there were more things to do than come up with the appropriately snotty response to your comment, Mr. Checker-man.

But I’m working on it.


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  1. oh my gawd, these stupid hipsters wouldn\’t have lasted five minutes in the 80s! Off the grid? I think we did it long enough. I had to physically get up off the couch to change the channel on the TV. I\’ve done my time.

  2. Oh lord. Please don\’t remind me of the days of pleated jeans and banana clips. I\’m going to have ptsd now.

    He probably wouldn\’t even know what to do with a rotary phone.