Absent-mindedness at the self-service tills

When shopping at the local supermarket, I tend to choose self-service tills – anything to save queuing. I go in most days on the way home from town. Over the years, I have got to know the lady who usually works there overseeing the tills. I try to smile and say the odd greeting.


Sometimes things get blocked, and the supervisor has to scan their clearance. Today everything went through, except the last item a plant. So she came and cleared it through. As I was walking out of the supermarket, lost in my own world of thought and putting my bag on the bike, the lady came out and said ‘Can you come back and pay please!”

Can you believe it, I had put all the items and through and forgotten to pay at the self-service till!

I felt very embarrassed and went back in. Fortunately, the lady seemed to trust I had made an honest mistake of absent-mindedness and she didn’t feel the need to call the police! Plus it was hardly like I was trying to sneak things under my jacket. I think I got confused when she cleared the till. It was extreme absent-mindedness that could have ended up in a sticky situation! Good job I wasn’t in an unforgiving foreign country!


In the UK, you have to pay 5p for a plastic bag (which is an excellent idea). Once when I had paid and had finished packing my food, I realised I actually needed a plastic bag so I just took one, but it seemed a hassle to go through the whole payment thing again. But, over the next few days, I couldn’t stop thinking about the 5p bag I hadn’t paid for. The next time I went shopping, I paid for a bag and didn’t take one – so I was able to pay the supermarket back and clear my 5 pence of karma.

I like honesty. If I had the option to download a film for free with 100% guarantee you wouldn’t get caught, I’d still rather pay. It’s not just about doing the right thing, but also I like to feel that always being honest and paying for what you need is a way to honour Lakshmi (the goddess of prosperity). I’ve always felt Lakshmi will enable the money I need (not to extravagance, but for a fair standard of living ) so I never feel the need to be parsimonious or save money by underhand means

Today, after paying and going back to the bike for a second time, I saw a 2p coin on the floor. I immediately picked up and offered my gratitude to Lakshmi – now I just need to become less of a space cadet!

See: Part 2 of this story

2 Responses to Absent-mindedness at the self-service tills

  1. Priyadarshan February 10, 2018 at 8:19 am #

    This writing was quite moving to me.

    Recently I read an essay by G. K. Chesterton, on art.

    I like Chesterton’s style much. It is not much what he says, but his writing voice that fascinates the reader in me.

    Now I realise the same is with your writings.

    I just can’t wait to buy a new book penned by you.


  1. Absent-mindedness at the self-service tills, part 2 | Tejvan - February 12, 2018

    […] My supermarket-space-cadet story wasn’t quite finished. After a couple of days, I went back to the supermarket with a certain degree of self-consciousness – if not minor embarrassment. […]

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