Fondly Re-living My Youth In the Checkout Line

A few days ago I was at my local Cabela’s retail store intending to make just a quick purchase.   One of those in-the-store-quick grab the item I need then out-the-store without being distracted by all the usual sale items on display.   Well, everything was going as planned until I picked the wrong check-out lane.

You see, I’m notorious for picking the wrong check-out line.   I have this theory (which doesn’t always apply at stores like Cabela’s), but it goes like this.   Don’t pick the line with the fewest people (or items being purchased) ahead of you.   Nope, instead, look at the cashier and make a stereotype as to how intelligent they look.   My thinking is the smarter cashiers usually move things along faster no matter how many people are in line or what they are buying.

But on this recent trip to Cabela’s I made an error by not following my own advice.   My mistake was simply choosing the lane with the fewest number of people ahead of me.   In this particular case, it happened to be three young kids (maybe 15 or 16 years old) all with one cart-load of goodies.

So there I stood.   Five minutes go by…then 10 minutes.   Now by this point I am contemplating moving to another line, but I was confident this transaction had to be soon over.   I was growing with frustration, then something suddenly came over me.   I looked at the kids ahead of me and I saw myself 30 years ago.   Those kids would have been me.   Their enthusiasm for an upcoming waterfowl hunt could not be disguised.

I started looking over their cart and I seen the boxes of waterfowl decoys they were coveting just like I once did.   In an age where waterfowling seems to be on the decline, here were three young kids bucking the trend.   They very well could have been spending their money on video games or fast food, but instead they chose to spend it on a purchase that will pay much better dividends in the long run.

Actually things were going quite well for the youth until they got to the point where they tried to purchase ammunition.   That’s when the cashier told the kids…WHOA!   This has to be done by an adult.   They looked at each other and discussed how they would overcome this obstacle.   That’s when the one kid told the cashier…”I’ll call my mom.   She’s out in the car waiting for us to get done shopping.”   A few minutes later mom was in the store helping to finalize the transaction.

I have to tell you I spent longer in line waiting to check out than I actually spent in the store shopping on this occasion.   Yet, I walked away not pissed about being delayed, rather I was inspired by the three youth who reminded me of myself.   In fact, there were countless trips my mother took me shopping for hunting and fishing supplies while she waited in the parking lot for me to “scratch my itch” in the store buying supplies.

Perhaps my fondest recollection of purchasing hunting supplies was with my buddy, Mitch!   We were seniors in high school when we would make our annual pilgrimage to the Holiday Sports store in Lakeville, Minnesota.   We would purchase the early edition of the local Sunday paper (which would come out late in the day Saturday) and it contained the 25+ page circular of all the fall hunting gear going on sale.   Because this store was open 24 hours…we would use this sale circular and shop several hours late on Saturday night…and then as soon as the clock struck midnight we would check out.   We learned that we could shop and get all the deals the day before the sale actually started…but we had to wait until midnight when the cash registers recognized the sale as being effective.

Both Mitch and I would fill our carts with lures, ammunition, game calls, hot seats, clothing, boots…you name it.   In fact, some of the core items I still use hunting today came as a result of my purchasing the gear as a youth.

Nope, I looked at these three kids at Cabela’s and fondly remembered the excitement I once had as a youth purchasing hunting gear.   I’m not saying that I don’t still get excited now, but somehow it just isn’t quite the same.   When you skimp and save your money to make hunting gear purchases as a youth it provides a totally different feeling.   Perhaps there is a slightly greater appreciation when the disposable funds are not as abundant.   I dunno.   I just know that for about 15 minutes of my life the other day I re-lived my youth by vicariously sharing the enthusiasm displayed by three young sportsmen checking out ahead of me.   I left the store feeling rather good about what I had just witnessed.

2008 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.