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Slice of life - Checking out our marriage at the local grocery store

When you're young and in love you never think about the little things. It's all starry skies and carriage rides in the park.

When you're young and in love you never think about the little things. It's all starry skies and carriage rides in the park. You dream a life of holding hands, staring deep into each other's eyes and pretty much laughing yourself silly as you stroll along the confetti strewn path of life.

You never think about things like grocery shopping. And you certainly don't hear anything about self checkouts in the wedding vows. I despise self checkouts. Darcy loves them. This is a problem. With our shopping list checked off we point our loaded cart to the exit.

"The line on till 4 doesn't look so bad," I say, heading purposefully in its direction. But Darcy is having none of it.

"Self check out is faster," he says turning the cart in the opposite direction.

"Now honey bear," I say, throwing myself in front of the cart. "We both know that isn't true."

"Trust me," Darcy says with great tenderness. "Now get out of the way before I run you over."

Two very determined people arrive at the self check out. One is going to do everything in his power to prove that he is the speediest grocery checker on the planet. The other is going to stand by ready to sigh as loud as she possibly can every time the little green light on the overhead stick turns red to request help.

Darcy taps on the screen and I plunk down the cloth bags. "Unexpected item in the baggage area," announces the automated teller. "Please remove the item or wait for assistance."

The red light flashes and I sigh. Assistance arrives, swipes a card, punches a few buttons and we continue. I hate to admit it, but Darcy is actually pretty fast. He even punches in the codes for the fruit at high-speed. But then he gets crazy with the cans of beans and tries to scan them all so fast the computer gets jumbled up and cries for assistance. Cue the sigh.

We just get back on track when he rings through one of those premade packs for the food bank. Trying to be useful I pick it up to take it to the donation box. Apparently as I walked away the computer complained about an item being removed and demanded that I put it back, but it was too late. I was already gone.

When I return Darcy is quick to update me. He is not pleased. I sigh and look pointedly at the manned checkouts. Surprisingly enough, this does little to diffuse the situation.

Then the screen asks Darcy to make a choice between 10X the air miles or 10 per cent off the purchase. I take this to mean we are finished, so I start lifting the bags off the weigh scale to put them into the cart. The computer squawks, the red light flashes and by the time the dust settles we have lost the opportunity to choose between air miles or a discount altogether.

As we stand at the service desk waiting for assistance we find ourselves looking deep into each other's eyes.

"I never have any problems when I'm here alone," Darcy tells me.

"I never have any problems when I go through the regular checkout." I reply.

By the time we hit the parking lot we're not thinking much about starry nights or carriage rides. Instead we dissect the check out debacle in minute detail, tossing the blame back and forth like a hot potato.

It takes almost five miles before we can see how silly we're being and another 10 before we admit it out loud. By the time we reach home we've even arrived at a solution. The next time we grocery shop together I will leave Darcy alone to use the self checkout while I enjoy a coffee at the in-store Star Bucks. Darcy expresses loving concern that I won't have time to even order one, while I sweetly assure him that I'll be able to sip my way through an extra large and read the entire newspaper. Marriage; sometimes it is starry skies and carriage rides, and other times it's clouds and horse droppings. But where would I be without it? Not in the self checkout line, that's for sure.

Shannon McKinnon is a Canadian humour columnist. You can read past columns at

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