Bitter and Better: Drawing The Line

Greta Kooy, News Editor // Illustration by Erika Medina

Earlier this week I went to Whole Foods to buy some cheese. That’s it – nothing else, just $11 cheese. I knew exactly what I wanted and where it was, so I put about nine minutes worth of change into the parking meter, thinking that’d be more than enough time.

There were a lot of people in the store that day, typical of this particular Whole Foods on a Tuesday afternoon. Despite that, I was sure nine minutes was probably all I needed.

I moved swiftly through the crowds, grabbed my two small blocks of cheese and headed for the “8 items or less” line. There were four people ahead of me, two of which were a very Kitsilano-looking couple. It was when they got to the front of the line that my Whole Foods Hell was realized and my patience was tested.

I could tell with just one look at their basket that they certainly did not have “8 items or less”. The tall Jared Leto look-alike with a black beanie started dishing the items out of their basket one by one and placing them on the counter.

The person behind the register gently reminded them that this was an “8 items or less” line, but continued to scan the items anyway. My type-A personality reared its ugly head and I started keeping count.

16 items.

I looked down at my phone, worried about how much time I had left on my meter. I was down to just four minutes.

Normally I wouldn’t fret too much about running out of time on the meter, but this area of 4th Avenue is notorious for ticketing. I was in no position to afford a ticket – I’m spending all my money on this expensive ass cheese.

I became irrationally angry at this couple. How dare they bring twice the number of allotted items into this sacred line? Don’t they know there are rules? This is anarchy.

The extra amount of wait time gave me a chance to try and understand them a bit more. Maybe I’d dislike them less, I am trying to be better after all.

They looked like they could have lived out of their van, a very chilled-out couple. They didn’t care about material items and justified the expensive price tag of Whole Foods by saying it supported local businesses. They wanted to do better by the planet. She wore a long, flowy dress and her hands were adorned with at least 6 rings on each, like a sorceress. He was tall and wore ripped jeans. Perhaps they had a cat or two and rode their bikes everywhere because it’s better for the environment. They were good people like that.

They seem cool, I thought to myself. I need to relax. As irritated as I was, I bit down on my lower lip and waited for my turn. Finally, all of their thousands of items had been rung through.

That’s when she pulled out a Louis Vuitton wallet.

It all hit me at once. I now noticed that he was wearing expensive leather shoes and the tote she was carrying read CÉLINE on the side. These weren’t free-spirited, loving hippies, they were phonies. All of my previously imagined perceptions of them crumbled.

This situation bothered me, I don’t really know why. I was willing to give them a pass when I thought they were saving the planet.

Nope, not anymore. My judgement was no longer clouded and those 16 items were now inexcusable and inconsiderate. I could tell I wasn’t the only one bothered either, which gave my frustration the affirmation it needed.

This column was named Bitter and Better in the hopes that I could share these moments of trivial frustration and somehow better myself from it, maybe even chill out a bit. But by the way things have been going lately I’m on the verge of changing its name to Petty and Proud – a much more honest description.

Finally, the couple left with three paper bags in tow. The next person in line checked out in less than a minute and so did I. This is what the geniuses behind the express line had imagined it to be – swift and painless.

Still feeling a bit bitter I walked back to my car with the two small blocks of cheese. There was a ticket on my dashboard.

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