Don’t Bum-Rush Me at the Supermarket Checkout – Frustrations of a Home Dad

Supermarket shopping isn't something I enjoy doing, in fact, I find any form of shopping a laborious and frustrating process – most men probably do…

The only reason I shop is to research, find, and then purchase the product/s I want/need, after which, I prefer to make a quick exit away from the dodders or out of control toddlers, and go do something else. As a home dad, I spend way more time than I'd like buying everyday items for the family; nevertheless, shopping comes with the job description and I fully knew what I was getting into when I accepted the position of "home bitch" as my wife lovingly calls me. 

Personally, I hate window shopping – hell, I don't even look at cars until I'm in the market to buy a new one. What's the point in cruelling oneself over car makes and models when I can't afford to ditch my old 2001 Hilux anyway?    

However, I do understand there are times when one has to grin and bear mozying around a commercial precinct looking at stuff and not necessarily with an intent to buy. For example, the weekend markets (I don't mind a relaxing stroll around looking at other people's junk); overseas on holiday (I did a LOT of window shopping in France this year with my wife); and market research for a specific purpose (like comparing products for review, which I often do).

I'm sure, there are several other logical reasons why a person would spend longer then they need in a shopping centre wasting valuable eyeball energy looking at items they're not going to purchase – I just can't think of any.  

Anyway, one thing that really gets on my shopping goat is the act of going through the dreaded checkout. And, I'm not talking about the wait time. Yes, it is annoying how out of 20 checkouts there's usually only one in operation with 20 customers lined up but it's some of those customers that annoy me more than the actual waiting. 

Did you know that pushing closer to the person in front of you in the queue doesn't reduce the overall wait time? Who would have thought!? What it does do, is make someone like me paranoid and uncomfortable. I've given the act of supermarket line intimidation a name – I call it: checkout bum-rushing. 

There's something disconcerting about the feeling of a pot belly belonging to a middle-aged man holding a hot roasted chicken pressing up against my backside whilst I'm quietly waiting in the checkout line surfing the net on my mobile phone. Call me sensitive, but I don't like the sensation of a stranger's stiff stomach lard brushing up against my buttocks and the smell of a cooked chook on top of it just makes the experience even more repulsive.  

Lining up at the checkout is not supposed to become an attempt at the Guinness Book of Records for how many people and trollies we can squeeze into a 3 x 1-metre space.        

Speaking of spaces, I like my personal space (PS) to be inhabited by myself only, with few exceptions, such as when I'm being intimate with my wife, "man-hugging" my mates or buying a drink at a busy pub, etc. Otherwise, I take any uninvited invasion of my PS as a threatening act of rudeness lacking any concept of situational awareness and if not immediately rectified by the invader I will take some form of action to reclaim it.

If I'm in a shopping queue and my PS is invaded I will:

  1. Try to shuffle forwards (without invading the PC of the person in front); 
  2. Give a disbelieving stare at the invader;
  3. Accidently (on purpose) step backwards to demonstrate that giving someone personal space can also be safe space for them;
  4. Shake my head overtly and look towards the sky with over exaggerated body language, and if these first four don't work;
  5. Go as slow as possible when it's my turn to be served and deliberately forget my PIN a few times or fumble through my wallet during payment. Then look back gloatingly as I leave so it makes me feel better that I made them wait for a fraction longer to get to the front. I'm so childish… 

Seriously, over the years I've had several people watch intently as I type in my PIN to the payment machine at the checkout when paying for groceries. One older guy about 12 months ago actually leant over into my personal space to get a better view of me typing the numbers into the machine and I had to stop making the transaction and say, "are you right mate?" to which he promptly snapped out of his trance and took a step backwards. Once I said to a guy, "umm, mate if you get any closer to me people will think we're married." He didn't get the joke. But the checkout chick did and she smiled widely as she gave me the docket (on reflection, she probably thought I was crazy and was just nervously smiling hoping I'd leave without incident).  

At many supermarket checkouts, the payment card machine thingy is located near the cash register just in front of the grocery conveyor belt with the packaging area a few metres forward at the end. What often happens to me is I load my trolly at the loading area where the checkout person hands me the bags and then on completion I go back to the card machine to make payment only to find the checkout line has crept so far forward that I need to ask them to move in order to gain access to pay! What do some people think – that I was going to walk out without paying or do they assume I carry wads of cash on me? Even so, you generally hand money over at the cash register not halfway out the supermarket door!         

Every now and then when I'm in the situation of being blocked from paying for my groceries by a checkout bum-rusher, I sarcastically ask, "is it ok if I pay for this?" Most people happily oblige quickly moving out of the way and even apologise for their dementia-like lack of awareness but it still grates on me that I have to ask at all.  

I know some people would find my frustration with checkout bum-rushing offensively amusing and perhaps confusing – some would say, "get a life Mark," or, "you're a seriously uptight dude," however, I know there are others who feel the same way and understand what I'm talking about.

To those brothers and sisters, I say we must push back against the checkout bum-rushers because if we don't they'll just keep bum-rushing until we're all bum-rushed up against the supermarket wall with nowhere else to go. Oh, and if you see me at the checkout please keep your distance. 

P.S If you are feeling like checkout bum-rushing is getting on top of you and are finding it hard to cope, call 1800-BUM-RUSH and reach out to a bum-rush support group nearby. Also, if you're a guilty checkout bum-rusher who's hopelessly trying to quit the habit, try getting help – perhaps there's a Bum-rushers Anonymous in your area.    

This short article was #3 in my Frustrations of a Home Dad series check out our Parenting section for similar articles or use our search bar for matching keywords like this.      


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