(photo by Cameron Russell)
I had never used the handicapped lane at Shoprite or any other grocery store before. I thought it was off limits to me, but the young cashier beckoned me, “Come on, I’m open.”
“Oh, I thought it was only for the handicapped. Well, I guess I fit in if you include the mentally handicapped.”
She smiled, her long brown ponytail swinging like a pendulum.
“It’s a guideline, but other people use it all the time,” she said.
“Oh, I didn’t know that,” I said.
I unloaded my groceries quickly in case real handicapped people showed up and needed the lane. It was Friday night, not a very busy one at Shoprite.
“Paper or plastic?” she said.
She had prepared a couple double bags, paper inside plastic.
“That’s fine,” I said, “or all plastic.”
I know it’s environmentally un-PC, but I need them for cleaning the kitty litter boxes.
Behind me was a heavy couple in flannel shirts and overalls who didn’t appear to be handicapped either.
They glanced at me as if to say, “You don’t belong here, imposter.” Perhaps I was being paranoid.
I wondered what their handicap was.
The handicapped lane was a lonely one, I would imagine, especially for the cashier.
I wondered how many people used it on a daily basis.
Are there other shoppers who never use it for fear it’s off limits to them too?
I try to only use the express lanes when I have the requisite number of items, but I’ve gone over by at least a couple items at times. The express lane cashiers have never beckoned me. Perhaps they’re less lonely; they seem to be an insular group, and chatty.
Express lane vs. handicapped, fast vs. slow, efficient vs. wobbly or more deliberate.
More express customers than handicapped ones, I suppose.
Does fast always win?