By Caroline Ho, Assistant Editor
Grocery store, five-thirty—it’s the perfect time of day
To find us nine-to-fivers in our post-work disarray
You’ve got your goods, now all that’s left is lining up to pay.
Which lane to choose? Each looks at least a dozen shoppers deep
I mill around confusedly, just another hapless sheep
Just pick one and stop dithering, you’re looking like a creep.
With my basket flailing awkwardly, I shuffle in behind
A cart piled high with paper towel—the name-brand, fancy kind
Meanwhile, your budget limits you to the cheapest you can find.
Gosh, next to that, my basket’s full of such sad-looking fare
Like my off-brand “cream cheese product” and my one bruised, clearance pear
Come on, the cashier won’t judge you. They’re not paid enough to care.
But even worse than judgment—the dreaded small-talk at the till
Will they ask “How has your day been?” Now I’m terrified they will—
Stop freaking out, you loser. It’s a cashier. Please, just chill.
I’ll smile and nod, say, “Fine, thanks,” I’ll be pleasant, normal, bland
—Wait, what’s this loaf of bread? Oh, no, I grabbed the pricey brand?
Just say that you don’t want it. The cashier will understand.
But I can’t just tell the cashier I don’t want it anymore
Just thinking of the awkwardness strikes dread within my core
Fine, buy the bread you can’t afford. See, this is why you’re poor.
I don’t dare ask the cashier to return it to the shelf
Perhaps I should just go and put this bread loaf back myself
Just TAKE the nicer bread. It’s probably better for your health.
I’ll buy it. Fine. I know I can. My soul is resolute
The bread sits in my basket, proud, beside my clearance fruit
Why are you so pleased with yourself? Nobody gives a hoot.
Oh dear—the line’s progressing quickly, forward one by one
I inch along so timidly, I fight the urge to run
Look, see, you’re managing, you wimp. Your torture’s almost done.
Uh-oh, I’m getting closer, feel my heart begin to race
With each step that brings me near to interaction, face-to-face
Why is this still so hard? You do this once every four days.
I’m going to mess this up, I’m going to look like such a joke
I’ll trip, I’ll stammer, drop my card, try speaking but just choke—
Stop panicking, you idiot. You’ll give yourself a stroke.
The terror starts for real now. What if my card gets declined?
Do I dare to make eye contact—oh shit, oh no, I’m next in line
JUST BREATHE IN, SELF, RELAX, BE CALM. YOU’VE GOT THIS. YOU’LL BE FINE.
Heart’s pounding madly as the cashier greets me with a smile
Why must this process always be this terrifying trial?!
Fuck it, next time you’re going through the self-checkout aisle.