So I’m at a packed supermarket and I’m trying to find a checkout that hasn’t got fifty million people queued up and not having much luck. I can’t use the 12 items or less checkout because I have more than 12 items and the self-serve checkout is a little bit new-fangled and freaky for me.
My heart is sinking cause I know I’m going to be in the supermarket FOREVER at this rate, and then I happen to see a checkout that only has one old lady in it. So I nip in behind her, looking at everyone else and feeling smug because I know I’m going to get out before them.
And then the old lady starts taking coupons out of her bag. And she’s got a LOT of coupons. And then the other queues start going really fast and I realise, with another sinking sensation, that I have picked the wrong queue. *dramatic music*
Desperately I search for another queue that looks like it’s going faster and get into that one. And it works. For a minute. But then the man in front of me pulls out something he has in his bag that he wants to return, and starts arguing with the checkout operator. Another wrong queue.
I skip to the next one but this one has a young woman who is trying to buy alcohol and has to have her ID checked and the operator clearly doesn’t have the authority to authorise it and has called their superior. But their superior is currently arguing with the man who is still trying to return something.
I find another queue and this one looks like it’s going fast, and I’m feeling once again so pleased with myself. But just as I start putting my shopping on the conveyor, the checkout operator slaps a ‘checkout closed’ sign down and goes off on her break.
So I whip in behind a mother and her kids and hey, she’s got a LOT of shopping but there’s no one else behind her, and it’s going really well. Until her kids start playing up. And she starts arguing with the checkout operator about the specials. Then she realises she’s forgotten to get something and heads off towards the shelves.
I am beginning to think I will never get out of this supermarket.
I try the queue with the man returning stuff but he’s still arguing and now there’s another checkout operator involved. Brieflly I consider the queue with the young woman buying alcohol but realise her operator is now the one involved with the man arguing. The mother still hasn’t come back from the shelves and the old lady is still fumbling around in her bag for her coupons.
At this point I know that my fears are correct. There are no shortcuts. Some queues are faster and there’s no rhyme or reason to them, they just are. If you’re lucky you’ll get a short queue. If you’re not, you won’t.
I go back to the queue with the old lady. And I wait. And wait. And wait.
That new-fangled self-serve checkout is starting to look better and better.