There are lots of places you can see the best and worst of people, but I think that in no situation is the true measure of a person so blatant as at the supermarket on a workday at 6pm. Everyone there is tired and hungry, and most of them just want to get in, get out, and either make or eat dinner.
Today was no except, as I had two... okay three... okay no FOUR, just four things to pick up on the way home tonight: bread, milk, beer, wine. (I know, the basics, right?). Long Beach recently passed a city ordinance banning plastic grocery bags. They publicized this new law and its implementation exclusively in local print media. Give that one a whirl in your brain for a minute.
Anyway, for once, I not only had bags in my car, but remembered the law, and remembered that I needed one. Smugly clutching my cloth bag to my chest, I walked the aisles of the newly-opened Fresh and Easy just blocks from my house, zeroing in on the things I was actually there for so I wouldn't be distracted by shiny things like cheese. Actually, thinking now I realize we needed cheese... phooey...
Moving on. I made it through the store in record time, and got to the real time-buster; the check-out lines. This is where the true test of humanity lies. Because here we are, knowing that a long wait here can literally double the time before we are sitting in our couch in our comfy pants eating whatever constitutes dinner and wondering whether, "traffic" is a reasonable excuse to open a bottle of wine. Pro tip: yes it is.
Living in Long Beach, I get to see all kinds of truly colorful characters. From the homeless lady up and down sixth street who always has hair extensions well past her waist, to the most depressed-looking man ever whose hole-ridden Members Only Jacket is always freshly cleaned. Fresh and Easy's line today was no exception. In an effort to cut down on staffing, I'm sure, this chain has no checkers, only people to verify age and make sure nobody steals stuff.
The woman I was next to in line was very distracted. I'm not sure if this store was new to her, or if she simply was a distractible person, but when the person ahead of her had finished, she was facing in the complete opposite direction of the check stand. Feeling the vultures circling overheard, I called., "Excuse me ma'am, but I think they're done."
Sure enough, as she thanked me and stepped forward, there he was. A tall, thinnish gentleman who was certainly old enough to know better, halted in the very act of sneaking between the stand and the woman's basket to preempt her spot in line. He awkwardly stepped back in front of his own line and shot me a look of consternation that quickly turned to mollification as he saw me looking him.
"Not today, sir," I thought, as I moved forward to my own stand to make my purchase. And so, smugly, I paid for my things using my reusable bag (smug) which I remembered (smug smug), and did NOT hit the lady with the death wish who literally ran behind my car (smug smug smug). I came home to find a parking space on my side of the street on street-sweeping eve (smug smug smug smug). Sometimes being a good person is it's own reward, but it's nice to get instant Karma as well.