Embarrassing Check-Out Line Purchases

The mostly entertaining Defective Yeti has an entertaining post up, musing upon embarrassing purchases, malicious price checks by Walgreen’s cashiers and the nature of vacuums in check-out lines:

A man walks up to a cashier. He wants to purchase something embarrassing: porn, say, or hemorrhoid medication. He has a few other items, too, but it’s unclear as to whether he really wants to buy them or if they are just a beard for the shameful merchandise. He has a plan: when the cashier picks up the copy of “Car & Driver” to reveal the three-pack of “mango flavored” condoms, he will feign surprise and say “whoa, how did those get there? Well, I don’t feel like returning them, so go ahead and charge me — I guess I’ll buy them …” But then, as the teller rings up the items, disaster strikes. For some reason the bar code on the product fails to scan correctly. The teller gets on the intercom system and says, “I’m going to need a price check for the jumbo pack of Tink’L Trapp’R brand adult undergarments …”

I used to buy gay porn magazines for the slightly-closeted homosexual a cubicle over from me at work. He was a nice guy, but — as a homosexual — felt a lot more self-conscious in exposing himself as one than I, happily hetero, did. It wasn’t particularly embarassing and I even became known at the newstand as one of the seedy, stained-trenchcoat-wearing regulars, up until the point where the guy working at the newstand started asking me where I lived and what I liked doing for fun, at which point I told my colleague it might behoove him to start buying the magazines himself. This gay colleague, by the way, also had a great anecdote about a one-on-one encounter with a John Holmes type, whom he turned down with the quip “What am I supposed to do with that? Pet it?”

Which is all ancillary to the tangential question we’re attaching to this post. What’s the most embarrassing shopping experience you’ve ever had? Let us know in the comments section.

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  1. AcidReign says:

    …..I used to get a little twinge at the grocery store when Always Pads were on the list, but I don’t much care anymore. I’ve had ladies comment when I start picking through the feminine hygiene section, but I just come back with: “I’ll bet YOUR husband won’t buy pads for you when you’re bleeding like a stuck pig!” Shuts ‘em up every time!

  2. CanuckGreg says:

    While waiting in the grocery store checkout line, the male half of the couple behind me suffered perhaps the ultimate indignity. I overheard the woman remark that she “forgot to get a douche…”, and the man was dispatched to procure the item while she remained in line. To add insult to injury, upon his return, she berated him for grabbing the wrong brand. The poor SOB had to make a second trip to the aisle-where-men-fear-to-tred.

  3. The Unicorn says:

    I once actually requested a price check on a 36-pack of condoms that were advertised as on-sale but didn’t ring up as such. It was a price difference of about $10, & so I felt justified — but my high school boyfriend-at-the-time was deeply mortified and brought it up during every subsequent trip to that particular Walgreen’s.

    Also, just the other day my current boyfriend and I bought a 12-pack of soda simply because we didn’t want our only two purchases to be Mylanta & Gas-X.

  4. non-meat-stick says:

    mass quantities of toilet paper is always a little uncomfortable to purchase. I used to live in an apartment with 4 others above a business. Buying TP meant for us and the 3 bathrooms in th business, close ties. walking up to the teenage girl at the register with 3 24-packs of toilet paper didn’t really bother me. Until one day the bag boy says, “got a lot of toilet paper hunh?” to which I responded, “Man, I gotta take a shit so bad!” in a boistrous voice that was sure to reach beyond my 16 year old bag boy.

  5. Fairytale of Los Angeles says:

    Cashier didn’t deactivate the antitheft tag in the first box of condoms I ever bought– and, being 19 and prone to a bit of weirdness, I’d also bought a giant kids’ playball (you know the kind, bubblegum colors and so on).

    Hit the door, the alarm went off, CVS employees everywhere, managed to keep my cool and get the tag shut off, walked out dribbling the playball…

    to my boyfriend’s car, where he had Seen The Whole Thing and suddenly seemed terribly embarrassed to be seen with me. So, not so much embarrassment for me, but a lot for the poor boyfriend.

    (Also, if you’re female and you’re going to send a guy after a hygiene item, it’s only polite to arm him with a box top from the last pack, so he can discreetly consult his wallet and figure out what brand of feminine mystery you want.)

  6. CMPalmer says:

    You got that right, Fairytale.

    I don’t mind buying feminine hygiene products, but I do like to make it fast and not have to stand there at the aisle, wandering back and forth for 20 minutes, talking on the cell phone saying, “Well, I see the Super Mini Thin Maxi with Wings, but I don’t see the Maxi Super Long Thin with Wings. Are you sure that’s what you want, dear?”

  7. gretchen says:

    1999, Phoenix, Fred Meyer: My best friend and I had just moved to the city, and were stocking up on random supplies. His basket is still legendary (just came up in conversation today, actually) as being the most embarrassing purchase ever. I was behind him in line with an alarm clock.
    *Plunger
    *Lube
    *Condoms
    *Entertainment Weekly.

    The cashier even broke the golden rule by saying “I’m not even going to ASK what you have planned tonight.”

  8. etinterrapax says:

    When I was a cashier in college, I used to entertain myself by speculating–in my head, never aloud–what people had in mind for whatever they were buying together. Certain items are wild cards that look weird with whatever else is in the order, especially if it’s only a few items. TP, condoms, plungers, lubricants, rope, any health products that are meant to deal with embarrassing bodily problems, like that. Some kitchen tools. My husband and I love this game.

    When that chick faked her kidnapping last year and bought something like rope, shovel, duct tape, cough medicine, and gum, I couldn’t help wondering who she thought she was fooling. Gum makes anything look suspicious.

  9. DeeJayQueue says:

    Nothing says “I’m Gay!” than going to wallgreens at 10:30pm for flavored condoms, lube, an enema bag and a tin of altoids. If gum makes things suspicious, Altoids call homeland security.

  10. Kat2 says:

    As an ex-cashier, some advice: Shop when it’s busy – if we’re busy, we couldn’t care less what you’re buying. Or else shop during the night shift if you have a 24-hour store; weird purchases are normal during those hours.

    My dad had surgery to remove prostate cancer which left him incontinet. He has an artificial sphincter now, but it’s not perfect. Depends? Too much. He wears maxi pads. Just try telling someone you’re buying pads for your DAD! Oh, and he even has a brand and style preference!

  11. Tonya says:

    The first time I had to by tampons by myself had to the most agonizing shopping experience of my life. I started my period on a road trip and so my parents pulled into a local grocery store. I begged and pleaded with my mom to go inside and get them or to at least go in with me, but she refused.

    So my parents were waiting outside in the car while I slowly made my way into the store and to the correct isle. I have such an intense memory of that store in bum fucked Nevada someplace: I can clearly remember the 1970’s ugly brown checkered linoleum floor, and the dirty front sidewalk, and the metal baskets of returnable bottles.

    Someone was actually in the isle so I had to loiter near the end until no one was there. When the isle was clear I practically ran down the length of it and grabbed something off the shelf without even looking. I walked quickly to the front, found a female cashier and just kept staring at the floor. It felt like I waited in that line for 10 years with that box of tampons in my hands until it was my turn. As I put the box of tampons on the conveyor belt, the 60 year old, wrinkly, red-headed cashier gave me a big smile and said at the top of her voice, “Oh! Your monthly! Congratulations, you are a woman now!” In what felt like slow motion it seemed that every person in the store turned to look at me, including who I thought was a very cute bag boy. Time stopped and I couldn’t breathe. I wanted to disappear into the floor and die. I did the only thing a 12 year old would do: I bolted out the door leaving behind both the money and the tampons.

    Though I was crying and felt totally humiliated beyond all reason, my ever so supportive parents (not) eventually made me go back into the store by myself to get the tampons and change.

    Now of course, I can buy anything from anyone at anytime. Thanks, mom & dad!

  12. Papercutninja says:

    I’ve never had a problem buying the maxi-pads stuff…isn’t it normal? Doesn’t half the population need it? It obviously isnt for me.
    Condoms, though are always slightly embarassing. Why? Who knows. You’re obviously getting laid at some point. Why not be proud? I’m 25 and my little Asian face STILL turns bright red when i have to buy them.

    Most embarassing purchase: Pedialyte, can of whipped cream and film.

    Freshman year in college, we threw a party and needed some last minute supplies. When my friend (who was also a guy) and I got back to the car, we remembered the aforementioned items, so TECHNICALLY they wre LAST-last minute supplies. Pedialyte, because supposedly you couldn’t taste vodka when you mixed it, whipped cream because the we wanted to eat it straight from the can, and film, because i didn’t have any in the camera (for general usage). The highschool-aged boy ringing us up looked at us smiled and said “Doing whippets?” To which we nodded yes, due to the extreme GAYNESS of our purchases. Yep yep yep, nothing like drinking pedialyte and snorting propellant with another man on a saturday afternoon. Of course the film was to capture these brokeback moments….