So, how do you like them apples?

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By Linda Ireland

Have you tried those self-checkouts in larger discount stores? I had been trying to get my husband Bud to use one rather than stand in line at Wal-Mart.

He has a propensity to choose the slowest-moving line, no matter how few people are in front of us.

He finally decided to try it on the day I found my favorite Rome apples on sale. So what happened afterward is really, truly my own fault.

The self-checker was sort of confusing when we tried to punch in the code for the four apples I had selected. That’s right – four red Rome apples.

They are my favorites, but no sense buying more than you need, right?

So naturally, we did it wrong, and tried to find someone to bail us out. The lady who was working in the area (whose job was to assist newbies like ourselves) said it was too late for us because we had already completed the transaction. We were directed to Lane 13 for a $1 refund because the service desk was closed. Naturally it was Lane 13, although in retrospect, it could have been Lane 666.

Lane 13 wasn’t moving. It was backed up and the slowest checker in the world was at the helm. She was talking and talking and talking. Then she had to change the register roll. And that didn’t go well so she had to call for help.

The line grew longer and other customers began rolling their eyes and mumbling.

Another checker stepped in. She was not slow but she was mean.

The couple in front of us had a return. After a brief discussion, she sent them somewhere else. I couldn’t hear the exchange or I would have been better prepared.

When it was finally my turn, I told her about the four apples and the self-checker. Something about me – or my circumstance – lit her up like a Roman candle. She jerked the phone they use for price checks and told the person on the other end that “they” were sending people to her lane and she couldn’t take returns.

I tried to explain I was not returning my four apples, that we had only hit the wrong button.

She told me what was going to happen. I was to get out of her line and go to the service desk which had miraculously opened while we were standing there.

I started my next sentence badly. I used the two words that irritate checkers everywhere. I said, “But, but ....”

“Please,” I said. “I’ve been standing here for 20 minutes.” 

I thought she was going to fly across the counter and throttle me. Her eyes bulged and a vein stood out on her neck.

“You can stand there if you want to and wait for someone from the service desk to come wait on you,” she said.

Oh, I know sarcasm when I hear it. I do.

So we went back to the woman at the self-check counter for help. She asked one of the service desk workers to take us next because we had been waiting awhile. I hated standing there. I kept looking over my shoulder to make sure Lane 13 didn’t come after us.

I guess the apple saga lasted about a half hour. 

Have you heard the expression, “How do you like them apples?”

It means, “How do you like that?”

Matt Damon’s character in “Good Will Hunting” used it – but my parents said it long before that movie was made.

I had to dig around on the Internet to find its origin. No one is quite sure who coined the phrase. One thought is soldiers in World War I used a “toffee apple,” a trench mortar bomb that resembled an apple, to destroy tanks.

A character played by Walter Brennan used the phrase in the movie “Rio Bravo.” He threw a stick of dynamite and watched his partner shoot it in the air, then shouted, “How do ya like them apples?” 

I wish I could say my red Rome apples were worth the irritation – that they were the best, juiciest, crunchiest apples ever. 

But they weren’t. I give them a 3 on a 10-scale.

And I keep thinking about the mean checker. 

She didn’t ruin my day but she certainly ruined my appetite.

So if you are wondering, how did I like them apples?

Not nearly enough.