I picked up my stuff and moved into the checkout line. There was some guy in front of me who obviously hadn't seen the "Express - 10 Items or Less" sign flashing like a beacon and had his weekly allotment of groceries spread out for 10 feet on the belt.
But I didn't really care, because I wasn't in a particular hurry. After about a half minute, I became aware of someone standing extremely close to my back. In fact, they were brushing me. So I turned around to make sure it wasn't a pick-pocket, and there stood an elderly lady clutching a loaf of french bread. I turned around and inched forward as far as I could to put some space between us, but she just crept up close to me again.
And then she tapped me on the arm and said "Excuse me, I only have one item and my son is waiting for me in the car out front". Well, shit. I only had 4 items, but if she was so antsy to pay for her crusty loaf and get to the car before her son started beating her, well, why not? So I told her to go ahead.
The cashier rang up her purchase ... and then she pulled the checkbook out of her purse.
Motherfucker. But I still didn't say anything. I didn't even change my expression. The cashier took the check, and then asked for a drivers license or some other form of ID, as is standard. And, of course, the old lady didn't have a drivers license, or "other".
Stalemate. The natives behind me were starting to get restless, and so was I, so I asked the cashier how much the bread cost. It was $2.75, so I whipped out my wallet, threw 3 dollars on the belt, and said that I would pay for it. The old lady looked at me and said "you don't have to do that", to which I replied "it's not a problem". Which was actually pretty good for me, because any other time I probably would have added "because I'd like to get home some time today". So, to all of the people out there who know me, this will prove that I do have some capacity for empathy.
After this grand show of graciousness on my part, I waited for my thank you, but the old bat skittered off with her bread ... without a word. I looked after her, turned back to the cashier and mouthed soundlessly ...