Today, I find I'm pining for something ever so simple and ever so lovely. Something that you, my fellow Americans, are perhaps neglecting to appreciate just as much as you should.
I'm missing that lovely man or woman who works at the local Giant or Piggly Wiggly, who greats you with a "how's it going" and then scans your stuff and *gasp* puts into bags for you. The bliss!
You have no idea how much I miss this luxury. I swear, my heart starts racing every time I line up to pay for my groceries. I start scheming how to unload the cart in just the right way so that I don't cause a huge bottle neck at the bagging area, and the 4-5 people now lined up behind me won't need to roll their eyes and mutter, "mon Dieu."
Yesterday alone was a prime example of just how that whole 5 minutes of paying for your strawberry jam and baby wipes can cause convulsions. I had done a big shop. I mean BIG. It was the first time in over two weeks I was able to actually think while getting the groceries since the only small person there to share the experience was Rosie. She spent the time trolling the aisles happily gnawing on the end of a baguette. (Thirty centimes of peace right there.) I got trash bags, yogurts, nappies, fruit, popcorn, toilet cleaner, 6 bottles of milk, cereal, you name it.
Loaded to the gills, I rolled the cart up to the checkout and started with my rhythmic yoga breathing. Half way through emptying that sucker, Rosie drops her bread and starts screaming. I continue unloading one handed as I try and find the baguette with the other. Meanwhile, the checkout lady has acknowledged my presence and is now scanning things faster than Amy Williams' gold medal performance in the skeleton at the Olympics. Cue 4 people to immediately get in line behind me.
Bags on the floor, baby whimpering in the trolley seat, and bottles of milk being flung with care into the cart, the woman at the register holds up a sack of clementines and shows me that I had forgotten to weigh my fruits and vegetables.
Yes, yet another thing I miss from American grocery stores. Those lovely checkout people who also carefully weigh your fruits and veggies at the moment you pay for them.
Baby on hip, clementines and other items in hand, I run back to the scales miles from where I'm checking out and weigh everything I forgot to weigh. Baby now on other hip, hands holding fast to freshly tagged produce, I run back to the checkout, pushing past the now 6 people in line behind me, and apologize profusely to all and sundry.
At this moment Rosie decides to laugh.
God bless that baby because when that baby laughed, the world (well, at least 6 other people and a checkout woman at Auchan) laughed with us. My produce sins had been forgiven. I was still nervously close to a cardiac arrest, but at least we were all laughing about it.
So hear me, follow Americans! Avoid those self-checkouts! Pick the line where that nice lady is. Say "hi" to her. Smile at her. Thank her, as best you can, as she bags your groceries, placing your eggs carefully on top and making sure nothing get squished. Thank her, from the bottom of my heart.