If there is one thing I learned in the Air Force, it was how to stand in lines. At first I was fidgety, until I was firmly corrected by a guy with a lot of stripes on his arm. So I did the next best thing. I zoned out. Using the time to analyze all manner of pithy issues, like why 30 guys were standing in full gear in 90 degree weather in the first place. Or wondering if I would ever have hair again. But I digress.
Little did I know, all those years ago, that while standing there, I was training for life. I was in fact preparing myself for banks, and movies, and fast food restaurants. That’s one of the reasons I like church. Have you ever stood in line to get into a church? No? Me neither. Perhaps a couple of times to get out though.
So here we are today. An entire population reduced to one looooong line. Makes no difference where you are, there is a line formed full of generic beings distinguished only by the color of their masks, each properly distanced behind each other, wondering what the hell happened. But I’m good with it. My basic training is holding me in good stead. And, being a person of age, I actually find the shopping experience stimulating and to some extent, amusing. Like shopping with a friend (at a distance of course), both with shopping lists of ten items and seeing who can actually find the most on the sparsely stocked shelves. The one with the most items wins and, if you score a roll of toilet paper, you get extra points. I also enjoy looking at a person approaching with a cart and staring down at the arrow on the floor pointing in the opposite direction. Makes me feel, you know, on top of my game. And of course, the biggest challenge is placing an order at the deli with your face mask on and receiving something close to what you asked for.
The other day, while returning home after an afternoon of lines, I decided to make nachos for dinner as I had everything I needed except chips. While passing my local chain grocer I noted that there was no line. So I swung in, donned my mask and ducked in for a quick purchase. It wasn’t until snaring a bag of chips that I realized that the reason there was no line outside was because they were all inside, and everyone was ready to check out. Looking down the line, I discovered that after reaching the far wall, it hooked a right and disappeared somewhere around the frozen waffles. Bummer. I knew that way back there the checkout guard, also known as the director of logistics, would never see me. You know the one. The 18 year old kid that inspects your basket and says “6 is open” or “sir, if you want to use self check out, please wait over here for the next available machine”, or “please stand here until the person in front of you moves forward”. Annoying maybe, but after the military
and 57 years of marriage, I take instruction well. Under normal circumstances, I don’t like the self check out because I kind of resent having that same 18 year old girl approve my liquor purchase (although there was a time I would have been OK with that). So I randomly scanned the people in line and was pleasantly surprised to discover that none of them was eligible for speed check out. So I cautiously walked up to the check out guard and asked if speed checkout was available, waving my chips, and she obligingly allowed me to proceed.
I don’t mean to sound negative, because I am not. In fact, this is about the only entertainment that I currently have that doesn’t involve washing my hands and it beats sitting on a bench at the mall. It also creates a sense of prestige. If you are nice to me, I can get you into the grocery store early. Just sayin.