This is the checkout lane shuffle or how to maximize your visit to a Parisian grocery store without doing much in the way of shopping.
It was my intent to get in and get out quickly. No searching was involved. Each of the items was exactly where they should be. I put Kleenex, ham, cheese, cranberry juice, and Canada Dry ginger ale into my basket then headed toward checkout.
Shoppers are not cattle, but sometimes it seems we are treated that way, today in particular. There are ten check stands, only three were open. Each had a line of six patrons. Then suddenly there were two lines of nine, when one check stands register broke down. Which line was I in, you ask?
I was now at the back of my second line, as patrons fled from the broken register. Wouldn't you know that I picked the wrong lane a second time! The patron checking out got into a fight over two things. She was upset about a charge for one of her many little items and demanded the bill be nullified and checked out again. The cashier got out a phone and called the manager. The manager authorized the procedure and went away to attend a problem at the other check stand.
There were by now fifteen people in each stalled line. I was still number nine.
The groceries were checked out again and the total was the same as before. Now, the woman wanted to remove some of the items to lower the total bill.
A new cash register was opened making for three again, and those at the end of the lines rushed into the new line. There was no point for me in changing lines again. I stayed where I was, expecting to shortly be eighth in line. Are you laughing yet?
When the woman who had just put back what she didn't want to pay for, a new total was arrived at and the woman opened her purse. The bill was for 47 euros. She handed the clerk a 500 euro note.
At that point I fled to the line that had just opened. I knew the clerk was going to have to call the manager and that more delays would follow. No, the woman did not have a credit card.
Remember that third original lane? They had been moving at glacial speed until a client, also with no credit card or identification tried to buy a package of chewing gum with a fifty euro bill. I had a front row seat as three police officers accompanied her to the store's office.
Being ninth in line makes for good seats to drama. My new line worked like a charm and the cashier was pleased that I had exact change and my own bags.
I paid with American Express. Don't leave home without it.