Mindfulness and the mean check out lady

a problem is a chance for you to do your best Duke Ellington

The grocery store in my town is huge, and it’s always really crowded on weekends, which is when I usually have to go.

I am by nature a pretty impatient person, and everything about that store triggers me. I used to go there and just hate every minute of it:  From the full parking lot, to the rude people, to the narrow aisles and the long lines, to running into nosy neighbors, you name it. I just hated it.

I realized a few years ago that my thinking was a huge part of what made grocery shopping so miserable for me. Think about it, what a terrible way to do something that I have to do all the time, right? To go there in a crappy mood made it even more crappy! So now when I go, I try to practice being mindful, and just stay in the moment and try not to run away in my head with negative thoughts.

It’s still a challenge, but it is getting better…

Today when I was getting ready to check out, I was surprised to see that one of the lines was much shorter than the others. Naturally I went there. I saw the “Lane Closed” sign that the cashier puts out at the end of their shift. But it wasn’t in the usual spot, it was off to the side. So I went up to the cashier and asked, “Is this lane closed?”

She looked directly at me and said a loud “No!”

Oh ok, cool. I thought maybe the other stoppers saw the sign and just assumed the lane was closing. Glad I asked! 😉

So I started putting my groceries up on the checkout belt. I was practicing being mindful as I recall, trying to keep my focus on just putting the groceries on the belt. First the heavy stuff, then the dairy, then the meats, etc. I did ok getting through the store. I was careful to say ‘Excuse me’ when I had to squeeze by someone in the crowded aisles. One person was kinda rude, but it was cool. Ok, just stay focused…

I had about half of my cart emptied when I heard the checkout lady yell, “THIS LANE IS CLOSED!!”

I looked up and she was glaring at me. She looked like she wanted to kill me.

“I asked you if your lane was closed!”


“OK, sorry!”

Oh my god she was mean!

I put all my stuff back in my cart and went to the next lane over. While I was standing in line, I tried my best to stay focused on the here and now, and not go off in my head about how stupid I felt being yelled at and how that lady was such a jerk.

It’s not about me, it’s not about me. Put your things on the belt one by one..

While I was doing this I thought of how, when my shift is over at work, how I can’t wait to leave. I’m like a homing pigeon- and don’t get in my way! I could actually understand that lady being frustrated with me. Maybe she thought I was just being a bitch. I would have been mad too.

When it was finally my turn at the checkout, I swiped my Price Plus card and went to the end of the counter to bag my groceries, but there was an employee there all ready to bag for me.

Normally I hate having someone bag my groceries, because I have this meticulous system based on weight and stuff and whatnot.

And this bag person was a special needs employee. I’ve had him before. He goes r-e-a-l-l-y,  r-e-a-l-l-y  s-l-o-w….

Normally this would have irritated me, but today I remembered to breathe and just be kind.

“Thank you for bagging,” I said.

“It’s…. going…. to…. rain… later…” he said

“Oh really?”

“We’re… going…. to…. have…. showers…. later…today….”

“Oh wow, I didn’t know that. Thanks for letting me know!”

All at once my heart opened up. This boy was doing his job and making small talk with me. What a cutie.

I felt myself relax and just let myself be there, witnessing this special person interacting with me. It was pretty cool actually. He was really sweet. I hoped he was healthy.

As he continued to bag my groceries, we continued to have our little conversation. It was nice…

And then I saw the mean checkout lady walk up to me.

“And I’m sorry,” she said. “I thought you heard me.”


“Oh it’s ok!” I said. And I really meant it!

That was just so cool!

I left that grocery store feeling amazing.

kindness rocks

Can I tell you, those pleasant, serendipitous things used to never happen to me! Before I started practicing mindfulness, I would have been so pissed at that lady. I might have carried it around with me all day.  I might have even said something sarcastic to her when she yelled at me.  And yes, I probably would have felt irritated with the special needs boy who was bagging my groceries too.

But maybe because I slowed myself down and was able to be there and be in the moment to the best of my ability, I guess I didn’t emanate any negative energy.

Anyhow, I’m thankful I am learning not to be a bitch anymore. And I am learning not to hate grocery shopping too. 😉

Mindfulness and Kindness Rock!! 😀

xo, Lisa Arcelia

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Author: Lisa Arcelia

I love showing how to find real happiness and inner peace in this busy and challenging world :)

12 thoughts on “Mindfulness and the mean check out lady”

  1. I must admit, I’m guilty of carrying negative emotions around with me all day, like a bag of rotting vegetables. I need to practice mindfulness, and your blog post will be bookmarked on my kindle, for future reference. Thank you for writing such an honest, helpful post.

    1. Lol Caroline! The reason I started this blog is because I couldn’t live with my own negativity anymore. I was anxious and depressed for years. Mindfulness has really, really helped me. I really hope you will give it a try!

  2. It’s so easy to get carried away in the moment. What a good example of how being more aware can help give perspective and brighten everyone’s day 🙂

    1. That is soooo true Karen! Getting “carried away” in a moment- instead of being in that moment– that’s exactly what brings the drama and suffering. Thank you so much for the thoughtful comment. 🙂

    1. Thank you Lauren, I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Yes mindfulness is such a great tool. I saw a video where they try to teach it to kids – and they call it a superpower! 😀

  3. I love this! I am a cashier off and on, I fill in for the girls when they go on breaks. This means, I am really slow as I don’t get much practice plus I HATE IT. I am always thankful when I get customers that are patient with me while I have a stress attack ringing them in. lol I love that you were kind and in the moment, it is easy to get annoyed in busy crazy places. Thank you for sharing!

    1. My heart goes out to you Jen. Back when I was in high school and college I was a cashier at Wendy’s. We used to get a huge lunchtime crowd and there was so much pressure to go fast. This was back in the days when you had to calculate a lot of stuff in your head too. I hated it. I used to get panic attacks about it. Here’s to patient customers! 🙂

  4. I’m usually a patient woman. However, there are days where my patience is thin, and that cashier wouldn’t have made it any better. I was told back when I was a cashier that you’re only closed if the light is off. She could’ve moved the sign to be less ambiguous, and she could’ve been a little less abrasive. A “I’m sorry, I’m closed” instead of a loud “NO” would have been better. Can’t teach everyone manners.

    1. Hi Nat Marie. Well I get it, but the whole point was I was doing my best not to get triggered. That lady triggered me, but by being mindful of my feelings and thoughts, I was able to not react to her rudeness. And then all of a sudden, she was nice to me. It’s better to be kind is what I’m learning. Thanks for the comment.

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