For as long as food stores have existed, shoppers selected a line to join to purchase their items. In Medieval times, hungry patrons of the local “Mead ‘n’ Gruel” shoppe …
For as long as food stores have existed, shoppers selected a line to join to purchase their items. In Medieval times, hungry patrons of the local “Mead ‘n’ Gruel” shoppe picked a line for the cashier. The ease of getting to the cashier was hit and miss depending on many factors including who had the bigger sword.
Today, food shopping is still an adventure. Pushing your shopping cart up and down the aisles, you grab items and cross them off your list. I suggest bringing a list or you risk a return trip when you realize that you forgot to get the mustard for those hot dogs.
Once home you unsuccessfully tried to convince the family to try the ketchup alternative. Soon you are handed a supplemental list that includes mustard with the new additions of cole slaw, lighter fluid and dill pickles.
Back at the supermarket with your items that now also includes a pint of Sven & Johnie’s “Caramel Knowledge” ice cream that was not on your list, you head for the cashiers. Since your items are under the store-mandated maximum 15 items for the express lane, you push your cart to join that line. You arrive just in time to hear an argument between the two people in front of you.
You hear “I don’t care what you say, 9 cans of tomato paste counts as one item.” That is followed by “That’s insane. So, I suppose 5 cases of bottled water is one item.” As you sense your pint of Sven & Johnie’s ice cream beginning to melt, you push your cart to find another cashier. From the ongoing argument, you hear “So then, you think a loaf of sliced bread is 20 items? You’re nuts.”
Now the fun begins. As you push your cart down the row of cashiers, you do a quick situation assessment to choose which line will be the fastest. Shopping carts loaded to the brim with items is a definite red flag. Another line has a guy holding his place as he glances around.
Soon, his wife shows up and quickly adds a box of pasta to their cart. She races away like the finches in my bird feeder when they have found a sunflower seed. Then, like my finches, she races back with three cans of tuna fish before darting off again. You keep searching for the ideal line.
Testing the softness of your pint of Sven & Johnie’s ice cream you realize your shopping experience is reaching critical mass. But the supermarket gods have given you a gift. A cashier opens a line near you. From out of nowhere, a guy pushes his cart in front of yours. Luck again is on your side when you notice his cart contains just three boxes of “Diet Mocha Cola,” the chocolate flavored fizzy drink.
Your assessment that this transaction will be fast is extinguished when you hear him ask “Excuse me, but I will be paying with a third party, out of state check.” Crushed, you see the cashier engage the overhead light requesting the manager. Making the best of a bad situation you open the pint of melted ice cream and drink it like a milk shake.
During the pandemic someone of authority decided that supermarket lines should copy what banks have been doing for years.
Instead of forcing shoppers to go line hunting pushing carts loaded with thirty rolls of toilet paper and other paper products that could wipe out half the rain forest, they were instructed to form one line. And then like at the bank, a store employee would direct you to the next open cashier.
Despite the length of the line, it moved quickly and efficiently. It also gave you an opportunity for last second impulse buying of greeting cards, candy bars and bug spray. That system unfortunately disappeared as the pandemic ebbed. I think they should bring it back!