7 Horrifying Checkout Line Moments We Know You Can Relate To

You came for paper towels and milk, but left with an embarrassing story to tell.

By Leah Maxwell

It may look like an ordinary checkout lane at the grocery store, but did you know it’s actually a vortex of humiliation in which your dignity goes to die? There’s just something about it that makes people lose their fool minds -- kids, old people, cashiers, and even yours truly. Sometimes you just want to just pay and leave as quickly as possible, and other times you think it would be better if the earth just swallowed you up whole. Have any of these checkout-lane horror stories happened to you?

Image ©iStock.com/Tom Hahn


“I was having A Day, so when the lady at the front of the checkout line pulled out her checkbook to write a check, I heaved a loud, dramatic sigh. It ended up being so loud, everyone heard, including the woman, WHO TURNED OUT TO BE MY KID’S TEACHER. Gaaaaah. I played it off like I was clearing my throat, but everyone knew.” --Angela, Columbus, Ohio

Image ©iStock.com/Mshake


“This has happened more than once: my kid points to a picture of a half-clothed celebrity on the cover of a magazine and asks loud enough for everyone to hear, ‘Mom, why is that lady in her underwear?’” --Gretchen, Alameda, California

Image ©iStock.com/Nastia11


“I had just finished loading a full cart’s worth of groceries onto the conveyor belt when I realized I’d left my purse in the car. The checker helped me put everything back in the cart so I could go get my purse, but when I got out there I realized I’d left it at home! I was so embarrassed I didn’t go back in, and I haven’t been back to that store since!” --Jennifer, Orlando, Florida

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“My toddler had a full screaming meltdown in the checkout line because I wouldn’t let her have a [helium] balloon. I had to just abandon my cart and get out of there. Mortifying.” --Lisa, Kansas City, Missouri

Image ©iStock.com/Alexey Baskakov


“It was the dreaded ‘buying tampons from a male checker’ scenario, except it was my daughter’s tampons (she was with me), and the checker was a kid she knew from school. Awkward!” --Kathy, Des Moines, Iowa

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“I turned around and my son was halfway through a candy bar he’d helped himself to off the shelf. No wonder he was being so quiet!” --Mary, Washington, D.C.

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“I was pregnant and verrrry sick. I was so proud I’d managed to make it through the whole shopping trip without feeling nauseous, but then I ended up puking in the checkout line (luckily, into the plastic bag I carried in my purse for that purpose). I ended up zipping the bag and putting it back in my purse so I could pay and leave. Pregnancy! So glamorous!” --Carrie, Seattle, Washington

Okay, your turn. What are your worst checkout line horror stories?

Leah Maxwell is a book editor, freelance writer, cereal addict, wife, and mom to two young boys. She has been blogging at A Girl and a Boy since 2003.

Image ©iStock.com/g-stockstudio


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