"The greatest gift is a portion of thyself."

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friends, not to brag but, I have a "smart phone." One of its best features is that it has the internet readily available 24/7, so I quite literally have all the knowledge of the world at my fingertips at any given moment. But what do I do with this futuristic technology? I play solitaire as I stand in line at the store.

And if you're anything like me then you've been doing a lot of standing in lines yourselves lately. Presents aside, the act of holiday shopping is simply nerve-racking when it comes to time management. I don't even know why it is that retailers have 40 checkout lanes available when only three are ever actually open. What are the rest for, moral support?

Are retailers afraid that if we can leave a store without incident that we might not return? And heaven forbid an extra cashier ever does get put on a register because the stampede that will inevitably ensue is almost as bad as the audible sigh that comes from when the first cashier has to raise his or her arm upwards to turn on their flashing light, which means you're now at a standstill until someone else wearing a vest can come and enter a code to get things moving once again.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: big box stores aren't tearing society apart but instead are actually bringing us all together ... in one long line.

As I stand there waiting in silent anticipation to have my goods scanned, I've noticed there is a bit of a pecking order among my fellow spenders. Those with large screen TVs always have a smugness about them that only gets worse depending on the size of the set. Some not so thrifty folks remind me of the opening credits to the "Flintstones" when I see a person trying to steady a 70-inch plasma into a 30-inch cart. I'm always waiting for things to start tipping over. Then there are those spirited shoppers with the "it" toy of the year. They hold up the box like a modern Hamlet pondering a skull and you can almost hear the words "Alas, poor Yorick!" and then carefully set it back within the cart.

To be fair I don't think I am better than anyone else on this planet but I do believe those that buy fruitcakes as gifts should be investigated for war crimes or at least questioned by a licensed therapist because they are insane. I mean it's not really fruit and it's not really cake, but it is completely gross. I would go into more detail but the line is starting to move and I need to get shuffling.

Auburn native Bradley Molloy's column appears here each Sunday. He can be reached at lovonian@hotmail.com

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