The Old Woman, The Cartoonist and The Cheese

I’m in the deli section of the grocery store heading for the checkout.  But a very old woman is walking in front of me.

She is also headed for the checkout.

But she is moving extraordinarily slow.  Which I suppose is what happens when you’re 92.

I want to walk around her, but I feel guilty.

Because a voice in my head says I shouldn’t race her to the checkout.

A voice in my head says I shouldn’t take advantage of her physical limitations.

But we both have brains.

So I use mine.

And take a shortcut through the cheese section.

When she finally gets to the spot in line behind me, I look back at her.  She looks winded.

I want to comment on the cheese shortcut.  How I bet she wished she’d thought of that.

But I don’t.

Because I have too much class.

44 thoughts on “The Old Woman, The Cartoonist and The Cheese

  1. Hey we have all been guilty of trying to get to the check out first-whether it be an old lady or a young one with ten kids-all screaming and crying. My problem is, they usually figure out a better short cut then me and I end up behind them in the checkout as they SLOWLY take out their groceries-so slow I think they do it as if to say “Ha! Beat you to the check out-now you will HAVE to wait as I take my sweet old time”.

  2. Show your dominance, just flat out race the elderly when going to get a coffee or get in the checkout.

    You know you want to.

    You should do it now because in the not too distant future, a future you is going to shove you upon the floor and zip to get themselves a coffee before you can hold up the line telling stories from the days when you would take shortcuts to get in line first.

    He will do this because he isn’t classy.

  3. Why the heck would you care who gets there first? You’ve got all the time in the world.

  4. If, in all her years, she had never thought to cut through the cheese area to save time & energy she deserves to have to wait a little longer in line. Survival of the fittest. And younger. And undoubtedly funnier.

  5. ‘I routinely do the same thing, only with fat people.”

    You get in the WAY of fat people and their food? You’re mad…MAD I say!

  6. I think you’re okay as long as you didn’t buy cigarettes when you got to the checkout station causing the teller to have to go get a key, go to a separate part of the store, and look through 7 kinds of Marlboroughs to find the exact kind that you smoke. Then when you tried to pay your debit card would not accept your pin number causing the manager to have to come and reboot the system. The old lady would have died by the time you were through with your transaction. If none of that happened your Rat self is absolved of your sin of impatience and youth.

  7. A swift cheese purchase en-route would have been truly classy, especially a little Brie or smoked Gouda.

  8. I had a similar experience except mine was completely different. I went to get a birthday card. That was the only item I had. When I got to the checkout there was a little old lady already up to the check out line with her cart full. Rather than get in line behind her, I decided it wouldbe quicker to go to the self check out since it was empty.

    I scanned my card and the nice mechanically lady said, “Please place the item in a bag.”

    So I did.

    “Please place the item in a bag.”

    “I did already you stupid…” so I picked up the card and put it back down in the bag trying to tip the scale a little so it would register.

    “Please place the item in a bag.”

    “Dammit, I don’t have time for this, IT’S IN THE BAG!”

    “Please place the item in a bag.”


    “Please wait for assistance.”

    Finally the teenager talking on her cell phone to her BFF sees that my machine is stuck and she pushes some key one her keypad without even missing a word of her phone call.

    I pay for my card which takes another hour because the bill reader keeps spitting out my $5 until it finally decides I’m not giving up and it takes the bill.

    I finally grab my reciept and birthday card and walked out right behind the old lady who unleaded, paid for and had her groceries bagged quicker than I could buy one card at the self check out.

  9. You’re a lot more like rat than pig… which bothers me, because I would’ve done the same thing.

  10. You probably shouldn’t expect the old lady to leave you anything in her will…speaking of old ladies, the more I read your blog, the more I wish Cathy Guisewite would come out of retirement and use you as a model for one of her characters…

  11. Just one old lady? If there is one there will be 100,I usually get to the checkstand and ask if there has been a jailbreak at the oldfolks home. It’s like playing space invaders in the aisles. Don’t kid yourself, the only reason you got there first is because you reminded her of her grandkid.

  12. I’d be careful about racing the elderly. They can be pretty fast sometimes — they’re just hiding it, just like you. And they can throw those canes HARD.

  13. even though I’m not an old person I’m pondering getting one of those old people scooters and riding it everywhere. That way I’ll never have to stand up again. I could spruce it up with a microphone to yell at old people to get out of my way plus, & most importantly, I’ll be able to use the handicapped toilets without drawing any suspicious looks.

  14. It only would have been mean had you broken a bottle of extra virgin to make her walker slip. If you had done that, and then stood over her and laughed while she screamed about how she broke her hip for the third time and how, now that she had fallen, she couldn’t get up, then you would have lost your right to be classy. As is, you totally defined it by not shoving her and then doing a victory dance. I am proud that you are becoming better at social settings. Did you smirk at her while standing in line though? Or make comments about the depends and denture cream in her cart? Because, if you did, you may have lost your rights to the Classy Grocery Store Shopper Hall of Fame.

    The use of arrows was a clever attempt to throw us off the scent, but we realized you were shopping with Jeffy all the same. Good cover though.

  15. Oh, you shouldn’t ought to tick off the elderly. You see, they have one big thing going for them. They get to heaven before you. And when you show up they get to vote. God’s a big baseball fan so three strikes and you’re out.

    Be very, very careful with the elderly.

  16. It appears that you spend an inordinate amount of time at the deli of your supermarket. I too share in this obsession. Perhaps though, you should take a small portion of your vast fortune and open your own deli. Think of the possibilities. You could make your sandwhich right every time, and no old ladies would race you to the checkout. You would be in deli heaven.

  17. I was going to take the shortcut through the cheese aisle but I had just watched three lepers and 2 carriers of plague stand in there and cough for 20 minutes.

  18. Good call. You know she had 52 coupons and was not going to be able to locate her checkbook.

  19. Uh Steve; this really has nothing to do with your awesome detour, but I was just reading today’s strip (October 4th) which has Rat playing darts with a housefly. There is however, a small discrepancy on the part of the housefly’s compound eyes. Insects most likely see in a pixelated format (like your computer screen if you look really closely at it, so your housefly bit is actually scientifically invalid. (I’m choosing to ignore the bits in which a rat, pig, and a housefly are anthropomorphic; the housefly can actually hold a dart, instead of being crushed beneath it’s weight; etc…)

  20. And then she passed you on the highway and and slowed down to about thirty under the speed limit then kept speeding up whenever you had the chance to pass so you couldn’t do so. That happens so often around here, and typically they have Florida plates. Seniors who used to live around here and moved down to Florida to spend their twilight years then come back to visit friends and family still in the area. And suddenly it’s like just because they have a Florida plate you’re not allowed to try and pass them when their going extremely slow. It’s scary how in most cases they didn’t pull this before. And they seem to be able to spot the passing zones even faster than you can but they may not have as good of eyesight as you.

    I’d love to be in as good of health and be as active as my grandmother was for most of her senior years. But then she never moved down to Florida so she didn’t drive like that.

  21. I had a similar experience recently. We went to get something to eat after a day at the amusement park. The last ride we rode completely drenched us, wet underwear and all. Going home, we stopped at a Chipotle. While parking, I noticed a very large family of large people getting out of their van heading to the same place. I’m thinking “there’s only 2 of us, we know what we want, we’re wet and miserable…QUICK, GET OUT AND GET IN LINE!”. We did the 30 yard dash, dirty looks and all. Got in, got out, they were still figuring out what they wanted when we left. No. I don’t feel guilty.

  22. I’ve actually gestured an older woman or man to go ahead of me when I had a slight edge in reaching the checkout lane. See, I understand there used to be this thing called consideration for other people, and it’s harder for an old person to spend that extra time in line. And what, you can’t stand to get out of the store 7 minutes later?

    What really annoys me are the customers who argue about the price of an item, saying that the sign on the shelf said it was $2.25 instead of $2.45. Then an employee has to go over to the shelf and check. This wouldn’t be annoying except that the customer is wrong, every single time. Then they decide they don’t want it after all, and a manager has to come over to cancel the item. Then the customer pays by check, and I get out of the store 7 minutes later than I should. I can’t stand that.

  23. The right thing to do would have been to offer her a piggyback ride to the checkout counter.

  24. now when you are an old man, in the grocery store, just remember what happened and when you hear the “sigh of youth” behind you turn around and say something really wise! they’ll be confused and it will give you some extra time to get to the check-out stand first!

  25. Reading some of your old blogs. As i got to this one i realise how much this cartoon looks like the olivers in santa rosa on stonypoint. Funny as all hell. But im not sure the short cut would of worked for her.

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