While I was purchasing fewer than 12 items at the grocery store this evening, and standing in the one “EXPRESS – 12 ITEMS OR LESS” lane, there was a man standing in front of me in line holding a single watermelon, or, as I sometimes like to call it, one item. All was right in the world.

But wait. Suddenly, two friends of this watermelon man came up behind me, each of them pushing an entire cart full of watermelons. There were far, far more than twelve watermelons — I would even estimate twelves and twelves of watermelons. They joined their friend in line in front of me.

Now, while I am not the kind of girl to point out when a person has 13 or 14 items in a twelve item express lane, I thought I had a duty, both to the people behind me and even perhaps to some greater being above me, to point the sign out to them. Hey, I said – twelve items or less only. Not in a tone that accused them of wrongdoing, but in a friendly tone that informed them of the sign.

And then one of the guys said, “But we only have one item. Watermelons.”
And then the cashier backed him.

I wish I could tell you that I told them off, that I called the manager, that I delivered a speech about what the words “item” and “express” and “humanity” mean, that I smashed at least one of their twelves of watermelons and that pink watermelon flesh flew up into their faces. But I didn’t. I stood there, shocked. There were just too many things wrong with what he said — I couldn’t focus.

The final blow was standing there in stunned silence while they checked out over the next seven minutes. That you can’t just scan one watermelon and count up the others – you have to weigh each individual watermelon and then type in the watermelon code. There wasn’t anything express about it.

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