According to Sam and Jim Commenting on things that irk us off, make us laugh out loud or just seem too weird too believe According to Sam and Jim: Thinking Outside the Lines

Friday, April 13, 2012

Thinking Outside the Lines

Remember when you were a kid and your mom told you, “Stay in the lines” of your coloring book?

Did our moms set us up or what? Some of you might have been in the military and a drill sergeant barked at you to fall in line. Some of you probably have been forced to appear in a police lineup (hopefully not). Most of us have to line up to save a few cents on gas these days.

But the lines that really bug me are the ones in the banks or grocery stores or at the post office, which call themselves “Express” lines. It seems to be a Murphy’s Law of lines that if you jump from the line you’re in to an “Express” line, you are going to wind up waiting to be helped way longer than if you had stayed where you were. At the grocery store the other day I was waiting in line to buy Sam some treats when this overly helpful clerk motioned me over to an “Express” line with only one person in it saying, “We can help you over here.”

I should have resisted the helpful clerk’s well-meaning gesture. But not wanting to seem impolite, I didn’t. WRONG! I could have pointed out that I had more than the requisite 12 items in my basket. But grocery stores, at least, have realized that their customers often cheat on the item count and now the store “Express” line signs say things like, “about 12 items,” which leaves a lot of room for interpretation. The store wasn’t very busy anyway.

But as these things often play out, although the lady in front of me had fewer than 12 items in her basket, she was in no big hurry. First of all, she yakked and yakked and with the checker. Then she waited until all 12 or her items had been rung up to ask a question about one product she bought. Of course the checker was patient and helpful. Finally, the lady shopper fished around in her purse for her store discount card and her debit or credit card. I was praying like crazy that she didn’t bring her checkbook out.

The store discount card was handed over to the clerk, who promptly scanned it. Then came the debit card. Once the lady customer determined where the magnetic reader strip on her card was she slowly swiped the card through the gizmo that reads the cards. But she blew it and it took her a couple of minutes to figure out she’d made a bad swipe. Then it took a couple more minutes for the clerk to show the lady the proper way to swipe. Once the lady’s card was swiped and her receipt printed out, the clerk had to inform her that she had saved “X” amount of dollars and that if she went online to take a survey, or if she applied for a store credit card, she would receive a coupon for additional savings. MEANWHILE, I watched at least three customers who would have waited behind me in the first line, finish their transactions and leave the store.

I once wrote a pointed and lengthy letter to a large chain store headquarters suggesting the company remove the word “Express” from its checkout lines, but never heard back. My experiences in “Express” lines often remind me of the Tortoise and the Hare story and make me think I’d just as soon stick with the slower-looking line. At least I know I’ll get checked out eventually.

Two bags of poop on lines, especially on “Express” lines.

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