I really didn't HAVE to go to the supermarket. I had gone to my "regular" supermarket last week, stocking up on things for a month, at fairly reasonable prices. However, I had forgotten a few items, and was aware of a few good sale items at a competing store. And since I wanted to get a few more aerobic steps in today (ie, walking to the store and back), I went to the supermarket.
Once there, I found everything I wanted, except for one not-so-common-item, and headed to the checkout lines. However, there I was very unpleasantly surprised by the winding, snakelike size of the line. And since I had exactly 11 items, I was not even eligible for the "quicker" "10 items or less" checkout. But I didn't really mind, because THAT line was very long, and it was questionable if I would reach the checkout counter any earlier there.
Suddenly I noticed a line that seemed slightly shorter, zipped over there road-runner style, and got in line. Shortly afterwards another woman, with two young children in tow, placed herself after me. Just as it was about my turn, a teenage girl approached me. "I have only two items. Can I go ahead of you?" After a moment's hesitation, I replied "Sure, as far as I'm concerned. But you have to get permission of the lady behind me as well." (Since she is also, in effect, cutting in front of her, she needs her agreement in addition to mine.)
As the girl gratefully stepped ahead of me, I noticed a second teen with a small bag of fish. She didn't ask me to let her go before me… but I knew that if I was her, I would understand that it would be ridiculous to stand a half hour in a checkout line for one item. So with the woman behind me agreeing, we also let the second teen cut in front of us.
As I was bagging my stuff, I asked the children of the women if they enjoyed "helping" mom. Their mother, smiling, rolled her eyes. We both knew that the kids were not exactly making everything easy. I quickly gathered my stuff, and rushed out. I just needed to put the store cart away, in PLACE (to retrieve the coin one puts as collateral in the handle). But outside the store, unlike where I usually shop, the cart storage area was a huge mess. Trying to commander the cart to the right angle to be able to place the anti-theft locking mechanism into the handle (and receive my dollar and a half back) took several minutes.
Then, JUST as I was finishing, the woman who had been behind me in the store came up. "Oh! You are still here! You know, you left an item on the bagging desk." Glancing at my full hands, she added "I'll bring it to you." Moments later she was back with a bag of eight "0% fat" yogurts I had left behind.
If replacing the cart had not taken me so long, I would have left, forgetting the yogurts until arriving at home.
If I had not spoken to the woman behind me, to check if she also agreed to letting the girls go first, she may well not have remembered who I was.
If I had not let the teens go before me, the woman behind me may have let them go before HER, and I would have been gone when she exited the store.
Now I do not very often let people cut ahead of me in line. But today I did, and it seems that, as is often true…. You generally don't lose from being nice to others.