by David Sisler

Andy Rooney, 60 Minutes' resident curmudgeon, says he has never said, "Didja ever wonder... " Well, he may not have, but I have.

Didja ever wonder why they call it "The Express Line?"

You are in the grocery store. It is the quick grab of a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk and head for the shortest line maneuver. Over head there are signs which direct you to the "proper" choice -- cash only, 75 items or less, no coupons, polyunsaturated fats only, or, in flashing neon letters, beckoning the unwary, harried shopper, "Express Line!"

You notice that every other line has at least one person waiting and one person unloading. One of those two has two carts, minimum.

"Ah, ha," you think, and dash for the Express Line, knocking down a display of the store brand something or other (it shouldn't have been out in the middle of the aisle anyway -- no way one person could get by, let alone two shoppers could pass, and that young pup flirting with the sweet young thing sure wasn't gonna move), and settle in behind four other people, who each have 10 items or less. Outta here and on to the digs in record time! Not! Rule number one for Express Lines -- if it says, "10 items or less," the cashier should stop ringing after item number ten hits the scanner. Those fancy cash registers (you know the kind: you never know if you're paying the right price any more because no one puts price stickers on the cans -- easier to raise the prices that way, you know) should be programmed to shut down after a total of ten anythings. You think you can get away with it if have ten loaves of bread, three bottles of pop and one box of twinkies. That's 14 items, not three!

If you want the rest of the stuff, you pay for what has been totaled and go to the back of the line. Period.

Rule number two for Express Lines -- anyone who changes his or her mind and causes a void, automatically goes to the end of the line, and has to pay for the voided goodie anyway. This is express. Ring ‘em up! Move ‘em out!

Rule number three -- if the express cashier has to ask for change, or a price check, or to borrow a pen from a fellow cashier, or continues to carry on a conversation with another store employee, or pops his or her gum louder than the ping of the register, or asks, "Paper or plastic," your entire order is free. So are the orders of everyone else in the express line. Remember, it says "E-X-P-R-E-S-S" not, "let's see what we can do to slow this whole thing down."

Since we all recycle, it doesn't matter about paper or plastic. Right? You say we don't all recycle. Sure we do -- you've driven down the Bobby Jones in the last day or two and seen all the recycled stuff blowing along the side of the road, whipped by gale force winds as absolutely no one except my wife observes the speed limit, haven't you? When our daughter, Jennifer, was on the way and Bonnie's labor pains were getting closer, she said, "It's only 45 miles per hour here!" We almost had to name the kid, "Toyota," but I did the speed limit.

But I digress.

Well, if no rules are broken, you will probably get from your fourth place spot in the old "Express-a-Rooney" (no relationship to Andy) to the front of the line about the time the Pittsburgh Pirates win another World Series.

It may say, "Express Line," but Methuselah died in that line yesterday.

You say you never wondered about why it says, "Express Line."

Well, didja ever wonder:

What genius decided that movies, and television programs, would be more realistic if the characters used four letter words every fourth word? Frankly my dear, why didn't someone wash Rhett's mouth out with soap when he told Scarlett he didn't give a bleep?

Why do TV stations superimpose their logs over the programs, but not the commercials? Have they figured out we don't watch the commercials? Better question -- why do they annoy us with those superimpositions at all? If you have to write it down, you're watching too much TV.

Why do "Wheel of Fortune" contestants clap for each other? Second and third place get cartons of raisins and gallons floor wax, and not the big money, big money!

Speaking of Merv Griffin productions, doesn't Alex Trebek know it's the "Final Jeopardy answer," not the "Final Jeopardy clue"? Art Fleming, rest in peace.

Why did Sally, Montel, Rolanda, Carney, Ricki, Tempest, and Danny get a talk show and you didn't? But then you listened when your mother taught you not to talk trash in public.

And why do people reject God's Son as their only Savior and face a lost eternity? That is nothing to laugh about.


Published in the Augusta Chronicle 5/11/96

Copyright 1996 by David Sisler

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