No we in team

I was having an email chat with a friend a couple weeks ago, and I mentioned that I get all my “news” from the checkout line tabloids. He answered that he was usually too busy chatting with his significant other (SO) to notice them, and that they usually do self-checkout to save time and avoid having to interact with mindless clerks (yeah, he’s a little antisocial that way — I love him). He also said it’s a good exercise in teamwork/efficiency.

Two things about our exchange struck me.

First: He and his SO have been together for about 25 years. Twenty-five years and they still find things to chat about in the checkout line.

Contrast this to Mike and me: I usually grocery shop alone, but when Mike and I are together, and we’ve crisscrossed Walmart 27 times and lost each other 3 times, we are anything but chatty by the time we hit the checkout. Usually I’m thinking about how much I don’t want to go home and put all this stuff away, or about how hungry I am, or how full (because we shopped after eating out), or how quickly I can put my jammies on. I have no idea what Mike is thinking about, because, well, I don’t really care. We have been together about 9 years.

Second: They are a team and handle self-checkout with ease and aplomb.

Contrast this to Mike and me: We only do self-checkout at Lowes or Home Depot and only if we have a small number of items. A typical exchange goes like this:

  1. Approach the self-checkout computer. Stare at it awhile before figuring out we need to press Scan Your First Item to begin.
  2. Run the item over the scanner 3 or 4 times before it works. Whoever isn’t doing the scanning snarls “Hold it THIS way. Don’t tilt it like that. Here let ME do it.” and then grabs the item out of the other one’s hand.
  3. Repeat for however many items we have.
  4. Occasionally get rebuked by the machine for not putting the item in a bag, or not moving it to the right spot, or not doing something. When this happens, snarl at the other person for not doing it right.
  5. Stare at the screen when we’ve scanned all the items, trying to figure out what to do next.
  6. Snarl at the other person to select Finish and Pay.
  7. Stare at the screen trying to figure out what to do next when presented with 27 payment options.
  8. Snarl at the other person to select Pay with Lowes/Home Depot Credit Card.
  9. Stare at the screen, which tells us to finish paying with the keypad.
  10. Look confused until we interpret this and locate the keypad.
  11. Swipe our card (the wrong way) while the other person snarls to do it THIS way.
  12. Complete the transaction (at last).

Not exactly a model of teamwork/efficiency. Dysfunctionality, yes. Teamwork/Efficiency, no.

Clearly, Mike and I are the Bickersons whereas our friends are the Nelsons or the Cleavers or (I’m searching for a modern “congenial couple” equivalent and can’t come up with one).

I hate that we’re like this. Seriously, we frequently snip and snap at each other over stupid stuff. Something my sister once called me out on, saying basically, “You should hear what you sound like.”

I know. It’s not pretty.

WE know it’s not pretty.

I’d love to change it, but realistically, it’s pretty much a part of our relationship.

We can snip and snap one second and be all, “Hey, did you see this article?” or “What do you want to do for dinner?” the next second. Our squabbles don’t usually turn into anything bigger, and we actually know we’re doing it. We frequently do the snip-snap-snarl over something stupid, look at each other and start laughing.

We are both stubborn. We are both passive-aggressive. We both feel that we’re right most all of the time.

I’m sure the marriage counselors would have a field day with us (“words hurt;” “change your tone;” “Use ‘I feel’ language instead of ‘you never’ or ‘you always;'” blah, blah).

Yeah, we’re one for the books alright. A textbook case of how not to communicate with your SO. How not to behave with your SO. How not to interact with your SO.

There’s way too little we in this team and way too much me (errr him, errr us as individuals).

But you know what, it sorta works for us. We really do love each other, even though our words often don’t reflect that.

That’s not to say it couldn’t work better, or that we don’t need to keep trying to improve. It could and we do.

But, so far, 9 years in, it’s working. And I’m grateful.

I’m also grateful for my friends — the ideal couple — to remind us that it IS possible to still have something to chat about in the checkout line after 25 years. And that working together can be an asset rather than an exercise in frustration. They give us something to strive for.

And, most importantly, I’m grateful that even though there’s no we in our team, there is a mate. The right one for each of us.

I love being married. It’s so great to find that one special person
you want to annoy for the rest of your life.

~ Rita Rudner 


  1. facie said,

    Sunday, March 11, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    Aw. Great post. And funny. I usually do the self-scan alone, and then I am left to argue with myself. Your way seems much more interesting. 🙂

  2. loverofchrissy'scakes&scones said,

    Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at 10:00 am

    We here at Hare Hill like to think there is no “I” in team!

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