SETTING THE BAR

It’s such a small thing.  Minute, actually.  Simple to do, and it takes no time at all.  Two seconds, five max.  So why do few people do it?

This is what I began to wonder one day as I stood in the check-out line at Walmart and watched the shoppers in front of me as they unloaded all their items onto the conveyor belt and then, more often than not, failed to set down the divider bar for the next shopper.  Why not, I pondered, while your hands are already moving things onto the belt, go ahead and set the bar and make things easier for the next person?  What is it inside one’s head that makes him assume that the next person would set the bar instead of doing it yourself?  Seemed a bit presumptuous to me.

After noodling this for awhile, I decided, about six months ago, if the person ahead of me in line did not set the bar after he unloaded his purchases, I would not set the bar before I unloaded mine.  (Because we all know that one good dick move deserves another.)  I always, however, set the bar into prominent view behind my items, ensuring the next person in line had a clear demarcation point.

What happened next is just what you would expect:  my items rung up with the person’s in front of me until said person declared, “THAT’S NOT MINE!!!” with a perplexed look, as if no idea how my potato chips ended up in his bag of kale.  Then gave me a stare to ascertain if I were somehow incapable of setting the bar.  Drunk? Two broken arms? A (insert gasp) foreigner?  What the hell was wrong with me?

In the beginning, I pretended to be looking for my credit card or otherwise distracted as the reason for me to not announce ownership as soon as my items begin rolling into someone else’s earth-ruining plastic bag.  But as I grew bolder in my “I can be just as big a D-bag as you” experiment, I took full ownership of my actions, and merely stood silently behind my cart looking straight ahead as the cashier, once again, added my National Enquirer to someone else’s purchase.  Side note:  Poor Angelina and Brad.  I really thought those two were going to make it.  Said no one ever.

Anyhoo…  After months of clueless stares, this week it finally happened.  Validation.  And man, oh man, it was sweet.  I was at Aldi’s, which prides itself on a speedy checkout experience, as do I.  The scraggly haired (no, this is not relevant; I just didn’t like the look of it) woman in front of me put her items on the belt and rolled on up to the cashier without setting the bar.  I followed suit without setting the bar in front of me, only behind, and waited.  Then, yet again, the familiar ‘’That’s not mine!!!’’ flew from the shopper’s mouth with a quizzical look at the muffins the cashier had added to her purchases.  Suddenly, the heavens parted, and the cashier looked at her, not me, and uttered these magical words to her (not me; bears repeating), “There was no bar.”

Witchipoo hair looked at me with a frown.  I looked back at her.  She looked at the cashier, again, frowny-faced.  The cashier looked at Witchipoo, smiled, and added, “If there’s no bar, we just keep going.”  Witchipoo looked at me; I looked at her and then nodded at the bar I had set behind my items.  The end.

I would like to say that I saw the lightbulb go on over her head, but no.  No lightbulb, no smile, no apology.  From either of us.  (I will not be out-dick-moved.)  So instead I will say this…

I truly believe that the little things are the big things, and a small kindness can make all the difference in someone’s day.  So I will hold a door for you.  I will compliment your purse choice.  I will help you with your bags.  I will even offer to pay the difference if you are short on cash (unless it’s by $100 like the jag wagons at the Walmart awhile back).  But if you don’t set the bar for yourself and expect me to do it for you, prepare yourself to pay for this asshole’s cupcakes…

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