I see more of this, more items discarded in checkout lines, in discount grocer-retailers like Meijer and Super Walmart. Less of it at Whole Foods and Kroger. I suppose there’s a higher randomness quotient in stores where you can pick up a half gallon of Silk, bath towels, an iPhone case, hanging file folder tabs, a Celine Dion CD, dog food, a Detroit Lions Pillow Pet, and “fresh” eggs all in one fell swoop. With so many choices, categorical thinking relaxes, loosens. Also, for context, I usually prefer the checkout lines with human clerks because the automaton clerks are always deferring to the monitoring human clerk, anyway. So I often stand in line. Waiting. Bored. Looking around at people and things. Too lazy even to tweet about the extreme ordinariness of the experience.
Lately we’ve taken a greater than usual interest, also a family-wide interest (i.e., multigenerational interest: Is. will go along with these what-ifs), you could say, in the castaway products–things misplaced among the indulgent and impulsive options attention-attractively located where shoppers are most idle. I see in these products a kind of distributed indecision that spans various distances from bins and shelves and departments to just before the terminal moment of consumer transaction. That is, the item has gone for quite a magnificent and hopeful ride, traveled around the store in a suspended state of possibility until, just before hitting the belt, it is denied. No sale.
And we don’t know but can only speculate about what motivates the change of heart, change of mind. Why does the produce land there, so close to the end of the supply chain? The recipe didn’t actually call for fennel. Or upon a closer look that’s not at all like the celery we usually buy. Or I just remembered that we already have fennel in the crisper. Or fennel is too expensive (though this is less likely because the price of the fennel would show on the readout at which point, if refused, the cashier would probably set it aside for re-shelving, a set-aside that would land the fennel elsewhere than among the magazines).