Did I Say That?: A self-checkout mistake marks Joe Pisani as a boomer bandit

Joe Pisani shares details about his new life as a Boomer bandit.

Joe Pisani shares details about his new life as a Boomer bandit.

Joe Pisani /

I’m convinced the local supermarket put me on its “Keep an eye on this suspicious character list.” I probably rank right up there with Bonnie and Clyde — well, at least Clyde — Bernie Madoff and the Thief of Baghdad. Whenever I walk into the store, they immediately spot me wearing my Jesse James PPE mask.

It all started a week ago when I went to buy some produce, yogurt, milk and ricotta for my wife. That seemed like a simple errand, but it became a good deed gone haywire when I went to the self-checkout area, which is always an opportunity for disaster with technologically challenged individuals.

There I was, a trailblazing geezer, scanning item after item like a true 21st century robo-shopper ... until I hit a snag. The bananas wouldn’t scan, so the helpful attendant rushed to my assistance, probably assuming I had confused the self-checkout with an ATM machine and was trying to make a substantial cash withdrawal so I could book a flight to Turks and Caicos to do brunch with the Kardashians.

She took the bananas, pressed a few buttons and said, “These are organic bananas, and you pressed the key for regular bananas.”

Uh oh. Not good. Did she suspect me of trying to cheat the supermarket out of what I calculate was 24 cents. OK, maybe 27 cents.

To make matters worse, I got defensive and said, “Ahhh, I don’t have my reading glasses. I didn’t notice they were organic. I never would have ...” She was probably thinking, “Surrrrre, Gramps. Ignorantia juris non excusat!”

Truth be told, the bananas had tape around them that said “ORGANIC!” in big, bright letters, which I didn’t see.

When I returned a few days later, I’m convinced they had my mug shot on a wanted poster in the customer service department because just as I was about to grab a few bags, the attendant promptly punched the cost into my machine...in case I tried to swindle Govenor Lamont out of 20 cents in taxes.

I don’t know what the big deal is. Her store’s prices are a lot higher than the other supermarkets’ so if anyone was getting cheated, I was the one.

She made me feel like I was planning to pull off the Brink’s Job. (It must run in my family because my grandson, who is a member of Generation Y or Z or ZZZ, is only 4 years old, and he’s already trying to scrounge spare change from under my sofa.)

I got really worried when I heard that the FBI is distributing a Ten Most Wanted Seniors list with a picture of a geezer making his getaway on a motorized shopping cart with a gallon of Metamucil under his arm. And I don’t want to be on that list because it could hurt my reputation as a columnist of questionable integrity.

A week later as I was leaving the supermarket with a bag of birdseed on the bottom of my shopping cart, the security guard at the exit yelled to the cashier, “DID YOU GET THIS BIRDSEED?” He definitely thought I was trying to pull off the great escape ... with five pounds of birdseed.

It was embarrassing. I was getting more attention than Nancy Pelosi at the beauty parlor. A cloud of suspicion was hanging over my head everywhere I went. Fortunately, the cashier yelled, “YES! HE PAID!”

The millennial employees were probably whispering, “Ya gotta keep your eyes on those baby boomers. There’s no telling what they’ll try to get away with. Didn’t you ever hear them say don’t trust anyone over 60?”

We raised four millennials so I know how they think. How can you tell if they’re millennials? Here’s a simple test. When you say, “Thank you,” they’ll respond, “No problem.” Nowadays, only retirees say, “You’re welcome.”

They should show us some respect since they’re going to inherit $68 trillion when we pass on to that Great Stop & Shop in the Sky. And $68 trillion can buy a lot of organic bananas and birdseed.

Joe Pisani can be reached at joefpisani@yahoo.com.