Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Checkout Chaos

Checkout Chaos

Ever since I've been a kid, I've dreaded grocery shopping. Don't get me wrong, I cherished that time with either with my dad or mom. But the hum-drum pace of trudging through 18 isles looking for romane noodles the clueless high school inventory clerk stacked in the wrong spot isn't my idea of world-class usage of free time.

The real reason why the evils of grocery shopping irritate me don't reside in the act of shopping itself but from the proverbial explanation point of the entire process:

Yep, trading currency for the goods in the checkout line.

While waiting in the line to the cash register, we all have our ways of passing the time when the line is long. Maybe it’s reading the tabloids or paroozing through the endless shelves of gum and assorted candy looking for that quick pick-me-up. Shoppers don't

care what you do as long as you follow what I like to refer as "Checkout Etiquette". Invariably,
the first rule in the book is violated every time I step into the line. Wouldn't you know it, it’s always me who gets behind an individual who can't comprehend the novel idea of having money close at hand so as not to "upset the applecart".

Allow me to paint this chaotic picture for you: It’s usually an older individual who is female-not always but most of the time--who has lost some mental dexterity in the mental math department.
The clerk scans the last item and hits the total button which displays the final amount on the screen for all to see. Remember, in the event that the shopper does not see the amount, the clerk also gives the shopper verbal confirmation of the amount as well:

"That will be $54.13, ma'am".

The person then just stands there staring at the amount on the display for 5 to 10 seconds
as if he/she was just blindsided with ultimate shock of their lives. In the checkout line where time is of the essence, 10 seconds seems like an eternity!

Memo to clueless shoppers: the display isn't in Latin! It’s not a language that's from an ancient civilization long since deceased. They're numbers!
Numbers are a series of digits from zero to nine assembled in a specific order to indicate a specific quanity. In this case, the quanity is MONEY!

I am puzzled that an otherwise "normal" individual who has not had any past consumer comprehension issues freezes up like a deer in headlights when the last item is scanned in and its time to fork over the cash?

Why is this such a hard concept to understand?

To make life easier on the rest of us who follow Checkout Etiquette to the letter, please polish up on your number recognition. I thought we all learned them in first grade. Evident ally, some of you were sick that day. And most of all have your money, checkbook or debit card out and ready to go. Using valuable time rummaging through ones belongings looking for denero as if it’s never seen the light of day is a violation of rule number one of the Checkout Etiquette Handbook.

If you follow these simple steps, it will make the miserable experience of grocery shopping a little more tolerable.

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