Xpress Lane checkout rage. It was just a matter of time. Truth is, more and more people have been pushing the 12-items-or-less envelope. Someone was bound to blow, and someone finally did.
After getting stuck behind an Xpress Lane cheat (13 items), a woman up in Massachusetts wigged out and opened a king-size can of whup on the perp.
Obviously this was an appalling incident and certainly something that should never, ever be condoned in a civilized society. I mean, the checkout lane was clearly marked 12 items or less.
Compounding the situation were the actions of the local police, who actually arrested the woman who committed the assault while letting the limit violator off without so much as a warning.
Although the police certainly should be held accountable for this particular travesty of justice, overall blame has to rest with supermarkets.
For years now, they have been avoiding responsibility for setting or enforcing Xpress Lane policy.
Consider, for example, the word "item." Exactly what constitutes an item? Is a bunch of bananas one item or many? If loose cans of beer are counted individually, why is a six-pack a single item?
And what of people who eat and drink in line--should what they have in their hand or mouth count against their total?
Also in need of reconsideration is the concept of Xpress-osity.
Does it really matter how many items a shopper is buying if that individual is going to pay for the purchase by check, argue over coupons or endlessly search the bottom of a suitcase-size purse for the three sticky, crud-covered pennies that will satisfy her neurotic need to provide exact change? (Sorry, I was starting to go off there myself.)
In the interest of reforming Xpress Lane rules and regulations before anyone else gets a booty kicked, here are my suggestions:
* Bundled items count as one, as long as they were bundled by the manufacturer or nature.
* Cash only; no coupons, checks or charge cards.
* The use of pennies, nickels, dimes or quarters, in conjunction with paper money, is strictly prohibited. Leave the change-making to the professionals.
* No arguing with the cashier over your receipt. She is the law.
* All disputes will be adjudicated on the spot by a duly deputized shopper. A duly deputized shopper shall be defined as the person directly behind the individual doing the arguing.
Finally, remember: No one benefits when an act of Xpress Lane rage occurs--except for maybe the other people who were waiting in line.
Jim Shea is a columnist for the Courant, a Tribune company.