Maybe it’s our instant gratification generation or just my own shortcomings, but I cannot stand to wait. It’s like that Justin Timberlake flick I will never watch except maybe for Cillian Murphy; I can actually feel the minutes of my life ticking down whenever I’m forced wait in a dentist’s office or worse yet a traffic jam. So I try my best to avoid these situations. For one, I almost always take surface streets in LA. I’m like a shark; I have to keep moving. Sitting in traffic is a slow, painful death. Also painful? Waiting in line to get into a bar or club. A friend’s birthday is the only exception I will make and even then I will systematically analyze just how good of a friend she is and sometimes decide to leave anyway. And it goes without saying – but I’ll say it anyway – that I am loaded with enough reading material for a trip to Timbuktu when I’m only flying from LA to Chicago. Those people who just sit there and stare into space while waiting for the plane to land? What’s that about? How do you not bring anything?

But sometimes you’re forced to wait. For instance, while in line at a store. Sometimes you should have known better, like when peeps are doing the last minute holiday shopping – it’s coming up quick, folks! – and you’re the poor schmuck stuck in line with toilet paper and laundry detergent. Yet sometimes it’s not your fault. Sometimes it’s just about other people being morons.

So the other day I was in Staples. FYI: that place is overwhelming. I actually think it gives Target a run for its money in the “I walked in to buy two things and walked out with ten more ” category because who doesn’t need tropical-colored Post-its or gold Sharpies?

But I finally reined in my impulse shopping impulses and made my way to the one open checkout counter. Already making a purchase was an elderly-ish woman, probably about sixty tops, but who looked older from either too much sun during the day or too many whiskey sours at night. Either way, I immediately noticed that she was writing out a check to pay for her items. Who does that anymore? I haven’t paid via check for anything that wasn’t my rent in years. Certainly I have never used a check when shopping in an actual store.

Sidenote: I’ve been on the other side of that counter. Having worked retail in the past, here’s a golden nugget of knowledge… Salesclerks hate checks. They take forever to process and I’d say a good third of the time they bounce or are counterfeit. Why stores take them at all anymore is a mystery to me.

Anyway, not only do checks take forever to process, they take forever to write. This chick already had her pocketbook out when I came up to the counter. It took her a lifetime more to fill out the damn thing.

“What’s the date?”

“What’s the total?” This was asked twice and twice followed up with, “What’s the change again?”

“Wait, how much did that cost?” This was also asked twice as she pointed to her already bagged items, making the clerk take out the items in question and show them to her.

She also paused once to push her glasses up her nose and carefully analyze what she had just written.

OMG. I was dying. Dying. Granted, I wasn’t in a particular hurry, but just knowing that this perfect stranger was wasting precious moments of my life was enough to make me dig my nails into my hand just to get my mind off the other pain I was experiencing.

After at last handing the cashier her check, it was over. Oh, but it wasn’t! Even though her transaction was finished, she continued to stand there and rearranged everything in her purse. I actually had to give my items to the clerk through the small opening between her body and the register. She didn’t even notice.

Then finally I was out of there… I got into my car and immediately cranked the radio. As luck would have it my new favorite song was playing and suddenly everything was once again right with the world. I backed out and rolled about twenty feet to where the car ahead of me was sitting at a stop sign. I waited for them to move. They didn’t. I waited some more. They still didn’t. I then realized that the jackass in front of me was looking down at something in his lap. Not in the mood for wasting any more of my life, I pulled up beside the car. Looking over at the driver next to me, I realized that it was my buddy from Staples. From what I could tell, she was looking at the receipts in her pocketbook. In her car. While it was running. At a stop sign. With people behind her.

It’s called justifiable homicide.

Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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