Anger Burger

The Express Lane: Queue to Madness

Posted by Sunday on Feb 8, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Can we briefly discuss the “express” or “15 item limit” lanes at the grocery store?

But first: I used to love the self-checkout lanes.  It was so nice to be able to bag my own groceries and not talk to anyone.  Misanthrope’s dream.   But then I switched to reusable grocery bags¹ and discovered that no self-checkout machines are capable of dealing with your own bag.  The machine preforms seppuku when you set your bag on the shelf, unable to comprehend a world where a 2-ounce discrepancy exists.  Briefly at Ralphs there was an option to check “I’m using my own bags” and that option was deleted when people realized you could add a tiny stolen item to the bag at that point and the machine would ignore it.  After weeks of having to flag down the employees each time to get a machine override I gave up.

There’s a humanist belief that within us each is the capacity to respect one another, and when we all understand this our world will drastically alter.  Violence will stop.  Hunger will stop.  Great minds will work toward ending disease and poverty instead of making themselves richer.

This will never happen, and anyone that has stood in an express lane at the grocery store knows this.

Every single time I ago there are two distinct people:

The cheater is almost always an affluent person in a kind of faux-rush, an absent-minded twat with their car keys in their hand as though a scenario where their car will need to be started without warning is imminent.  They are guaranteed to have about 20 items in their basket.   They will, when the checker asks “Did you find everything ok?” answer sincerely that they did not.  Anecdotal case-in-point: the girl who whined “I looked everywhere for Tapatío hot sauce and I couldn’t find it,” after which the checker sends a bag-boy off to the hot sauce isle to find the giant display of Tapatío.  Meanwhile 400 people in the check-out line grow old and die.

If your blood pressure isn’t raised by the Cheater, then the Indignant Loser will surely do it for you with their passive-aggressive sighing and attempts to assault with mere eye contact.  Occasionally they will talk to you in an effort to gain solidarity, “Can you believe this?” (“Yes.”) and even more awkwardly might scold the checker, “This lane is 15 items or less, right?  Why are you allowing her to be in this line?”

I fall into an amorphous third category wherein I start out as being an Indignant Loser and then once I see other Indignant Losers I lose all my steam and fall into an atheistic funk involving fantasies of secret compounds and gun hoarding.  And in the event that neither of those are in front of me in line, it’s almost certainly some batshit crazy loon buying a single packet of soy cheese slices while paying with a sack of pennies.

I hesitate to offer a solution since I know it won’t be entertained, but here it is: have a lane called a “Luxury Lane,” and that alone will draw off all the people who also rent “Luxury Apartments” that are really just low-quality ant farms with faux-granite countertops and stainless steel fridges.  So, the Cheaters, basically.  This will leave the other lane, which will be renamed the “Budget Lane” to people with only a few items but who actually have their cash out and ready to pay.   You’ll also have to install a simple coin-counting mechanism into the register for the batshit sack-o-pennies, but that’s pretty easy.

Ugh.  Now I have heartburn.

¹The RuMe bags are by far my favorite – they have long handles, long enough to actually hoist over your shoulder even when the bags are full, and they have squared corners and bottoms.  When I first went shopping for reusable bags year before last I was surprised to discover they all had seams on the bottom, which makes the packing of groceries stupidly harder.  It’s seriously like these people have never packed a bag of groceries before in their lives, which now that I think about it they probably haven’t.  The RuMe bags also fold up and seal with velcro, which no one else was doing.  Everyone else either folded up into large, sloppy pockets or had little separate, loose covers, like, I wonder how long it would take to lose them.  Ten minutes?  Five?  AND RuMe makes an extra-large “macro” size so that you can have bags for those awkward toilet paper superpack buying rampages at Target.

February 8th, 2010 | Drama!, Pet Peeves

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