Shalom Life | April 24, 2014

Be Careful Before Lining Up in the "16 Items or Less” Line

Hopefully My Shopping Experience Resulted in a Convert

By: Daniel Horowitz

Published: January 22nd, 2012 in News » World

Be Careful Before Lining Up in the "16 Items or Less” Line
I think I’m fairly recognizable as a Hebrew.

That is to say, I’ve never been confused with Thor or any other God from Norse mythology, or as say, an Aryan.

My once-golden locks long ago turned brown, now, sadly, with some grey cracking the surface.

Everything about me says “Jew”.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m as proud a Jew as there is.

I usually offer my religious affiliation to any and all, regardless of whether or not it was requested.

Today, while shopping at a neighbourhood grocery store, my Jewishness clearly led a fellow shopper to the dark side, as she showed her true, unsavoury colours.

As I made my final purchase, I gently pushed my shopping cart to the least busy aisle, which happened to be the dreaded “16 Items or Less” aisle. Not having the time – or the desire - to count my items, which consisted of 6 cases of drinking water (you never know when the Avian flu might hit), a carton of eggs, and various fruits and vegetables, I figured I was close enough to the assigned maximum so as to not set off the 17 alarm.

If I was a betting man, I would have chosen the “under”, something pseudo-relevant what with the Super Bowl quickly approaching.

Anyway, as I turned to look at the growing line behind me, I saw who appeared to be a lovely “40’ish” blond lady with who I assume was her 75-year-old mother.

As I greeted them with a warm “hi”, I was greeted with a stern look as she perused my cart, followed by a snippy, “You do know this is the 16 item aisle, don’t you?” I realized right then and there that an affair full of wondrous afternoon delights was not in my immediate future with this attractive woman.

I looked at them both as they stared at my cart, and, using my powers as a writer who is never at a loss for words, I responded with, “um, ok.”

Wow. Way to go, Daniel. You don’t take crap from anyone, now , do you?! You show them who’s boss!

Suddenly, sensing their eyes on firmly planted on me as I took items from the cart and placed them on the cashier’s conveyer belt, I’m pretty sure I heard one of those old fashioned calculators whirring, as they added up my merchandise.

With tensions rising, and as I approached the magic “16” without my water being included, I was becoming nervous. Would this start a riot? Was she counting my carton of eggs as twelve items?

I pretended not to notice as I paid for my (gasp) 22 items, and proceeded to leave. It’s then when I heard something that really makes me ponder the ignorance, and self-loathing of some people.

The mother, who looked as if she had just fallen from a Norman Rockwell painting, whispered to her daughter, “what can you do, it’s just the way they are. ____ are just no good. They don’t care about anyone.”

The blank space above was filled in with the “J” word. Unless the old bag (and you know who you are, Ava) was talking about the store’s orange Juice, I believe I was the on the receiving end of some bad old anti-Semitism.

I looked at them, making sure they knew that I heard them, to which they both gasped when they saw my eyes. And you can be sure, I gave them both the stink eye.

Roughly 5 minutes later, as I filled my car with my 22 purchases, I heard a woman shouting. Instinctively, I ran to see an elderly woman sitting on the parking lot’s pavement having slipped on a piece of ice.

As I got closer, I noticed it “her”, the lady who doesn’t appear to like Jews.

It was hard for me, and my first instinct was to say to her, “you’re right, we don’t care about anyone.” And simply walk away. But, no, I bent down, helped her up, and even helped her gather her groceries (which I was dying to count).

Shocked to see her rescuer was me, she gave me an embarrassed smile and thanked me profusely “for being so kind.”

I responded with a simple and sincere, “Shabbat Shalom” before turning and starting my walk home.

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