Thursday, February 7, 2008

Larry David and Me and Checkout Lines

Have you ever been stuck in the wrong line at the checkout? And by wrong, I mean the slow-moving one. It seems to happen all the time to me. Just the other night, I watched with growing frustration as the woman in front of me took out one credit card after the other, only to have each one declined. She then launched into her personal credit history with the very patient and chatty cashier. Meanwhile, I watched as two people—both of who had walked up to the checkout after me but were in a different line—cashed out and left the store.

I didn’t make a big deal of it as I wasn’t in all that much of a hurry. But the fact is, I don’t like stores that have checkouts with multiple lines. I don’t like having to gamble which line will move the quickest and which line will get bogged down. And I can really get riled up when a new register suddenly opens and the last person on line suddenly becomes the first on the new line.

I have tried not to let checkout line injustices (actually, inefficiencies is a better word) get the better of me. But sometimes I just can’t help give in to what one of my friends calls “queue rage.” It happened this past December, on the last Saturday before Christmas. There were three long lines at one central checkout. The line I was in had come to a standstill, while the other lines moved briskly. Then an associate walked up to the counter and opened a new register. I fumed as she called out to customers at the end of the other lines to come up to her register.

A store manager watched as this all unfolded. I went over to her and started talking (okay, so I raised my voice a little as the discussion went on) about the unfairness of it all, and how the customers would be better served with a single line that fed all the checkouts. She was patronizing. I left the store in a huff, feeling like some ranting crazy lady.

Still, I had to smile when a friend sent me a link to an episode of the HBO show “Curb Your Enthusiasm” in which the star, Larry David, fumes when he stands on the “wrong line” at a perfume counter. After loudly going on about the unfairness of checkout lines, he stalks out.

“There’s one way to solve it—one line,” David says.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

—Marianne Wilson

No comments: