Check it out! It’s me, me and that’s all

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 28, 2010

Many years ago, grocery stores around America designed a brilliant plan to keep shoppers happy, whether they were buying a box of laundry detergent or a cart full of goods.

Stores created express lines as a way to allow those with detergent and diapers to avoid waiting in line behind the family of six with two full buggies.

Sean P. Murphy is Web editor. He can be reached at

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Of course customers of the “me and only me” mind set found ways to get around the rules by simply ignoring the signs. There were no consequences for violating those rules, just tsks and head-shakes from perplexed shoppers standing behind with a box of crackers and a jug of milk.

The latest grocery store convenience — the self-checkout — is being ruined in the same manner as the express lines. The “me” generation at its worst.

No sign alerts people at the self-checkout to have only a few items for the convenience of others. It is now commonplace to see that family of six with two overflowing carts and a 120-pound bag of Ol’ Roy in the self-checkout line. Does it matter others are standing behind with only a few items? As House Minority Leader John Boehner recently said on another topic, “hell no.”

Fact is, there shouldn’t have to be a notice in the first place.

Shoppers at 1 in the morning in an empty store should have the freedom to run as many items over the self-scanner as they can fit into a cart. During the 5 o’clock rush, however, with the lines of customers waiting with only a jug of milk, the Ol’ Roy-packing family of six should be in a normal line. Period.

In a friendly society where people care for one another, such violations of the code of humanity would not be an issue. But we are not a friendly society, we are delving deeper and deeper into the “me” society. The world revolves around “me” and it does not matter how many others are being inconvenienced — because no one else exists.

There was a time even before the express lines appeared that someone standing with full cart would allow the stranger standing behind holding three items to just go ahead. Smiles were exchanged along with a pleasant thank you. Once, we were once societal teammates.

In the land of “me” it is perfectly acceptable to disregard the spirit of society, ignore others and try to roll that sack of Ol’ Roy over the scanner.

As the sports saying goes, there is no “I” in team.

But there sure is a me.