I went to Sears today to buy the towels and rugs we need to outfit all our bathrooms. Several bathrooms have towels dating back to our pre-married days (six years ago!) and of course our new bathroom in the basement has been pretty much empty for the few months it’s been around.

After lugging two enormous piles of towels and rugs to the checkout counter (Sears doesn’t have carts, of course), I was subject to the fascinating spectacle of watching the saleswoman Maureen ring up my order.

She’d take a washcloth, carefully unfold it to find the tag with the UPC, and hold it up to the laser scanner. The little red light would dance across the UPC for a few seconds; she’d shift the tag around a bit to get a better angle; the light would continue to flicker; she’d move the scanner a bit and then move the washcloth a bit. Finally, with a satisfied BEEP, the system would read the UPC.

Then she’d fold up the washcloth very carefully and place it gently into the gigantic plastic bag on the counter. She’d pick up the next washcloth (which was identical to the one she’d just scanned, but I guess she didn’t know she could hit the “Again” key or whatever to ring up the same item) and repeat the entire process.

It must have taken fifteen minutes for her to ring up the thirty or so items I had. A line of people grew behind me, and I probably would’ve laughed if I wasn’t getting so impatient. It was comical, how slow and deliberate she was.

In the end I bought two hundred dollars’ worth of bathroom linen. Sheesh. Maybe I should revert to a grungy rug in each bathroom, and let people wipe their hands on their jeans after they use the sink.