1510 How to Pick a Checkout Line
It’s easy, and most of the time it works. But you have to keep your eyes open.
--Lines where the register pilot is a fast moving male. The fast moves usually are motion, not action.
--Lines where the pilot is deeply engrossed in conversation with a customer or coworker. They are not paying attention to you.
--Lines where making the payment takes longer than running all the stuff through the scanner.
--Lines where “cashier in training” signs are posted.
--Lines where couples are arguing.
--Lines where a parent -- or worse, two parents -- are trying to control multiple hyperactive children.
--Express lines where people have carts obviously filled to over the posted limit.
--Self checkout lines. They should be but are not ready for prime time. (More about this later.)
--Lines with over-smiley register pilots. They’re worse than those conversation holders above because every customer, not just coworkers and friends, are a cause for celebration.
--Lines run by managers. Most are out of practice.
--Lines where the pilot treats people's’ stuff like basketballs even if they sink layups from three feet every time.
--Lines with pilots out of uniform. They’re new and aren’t yet fully trained. And they forgot to post their “in training” signs.
--Line pilots who look like grandma. They’re serious and steady workers, they know the item numbers of the unlabeled stuff you’re buying and want to get you home in time for dinner. (Which for them means no later than 4 PM.)
--Pilots who double bag, especially at places that use the recycled plastic which tears at the slightest provocation including sharp corners on an item or a sharp look.
--Pilots who you like to look at. At least you’ll be amused and/or distracted when waiting forever to get it over with.
The length of the line is not a leading indicator of its speed.
Learn when shifts change and don’t be there immediately before or after.
The register printer is likely to jam or run out of register tape in the middle of your transaction. Mentally accommodate for this in advance because there’s no way to avoid it.
Carry a paper towel. The scanner hasn’t been cleaned since forever and is going to balk. You can help by providing the means to wipe the gunk from it.
Remember the security code for your debit card.
Now, about those self checkout lines. Stores use them to save on salaries and benefits. The IRS considers them capital improvements and allows them as deductions. And if there’s anything you don’t want to be responsible for it’s improving MegaMart’s bottom line.
When you use a self checkout, you are depriving someone of wages and benefits, such as there are left of them.
Unless you’re a pro, it’s going to take you longer because
--The scanner is dirty (remember the paper towel rule.)
--You are a klutz at using the machinery even if you’ve done it for years.
--You pack less efficiently than the register pilot who weighs 350 pounds, can hardly breathe, holds conversations and doesn’t look like grandma.
--You have to search for your change or your receipt.
--Your paper money is wrinkled and therefore rejected.
--You will insert paper money in a direction the money changer doesn’t understand and have to fight for your constitutional right to put money in a vending machine.
--The scale under the bagging area does not register properly (did you even know about those scales? They match the item you scan with its estimated weight.)
--The machine shows you millions of pictures of items and you have to scroll through all of them if you’ve inadvertently picked up an item without a bar code.
A little thought, a little planning and a little observation can get you through the dark moments of checkout faster than you ever have. Which still isn’t fast. But it’s something.
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
© WJR 2015