Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Life in the Fast Lane...

Yup, you guessed it. Another express line post.

I went over to Safeway today, to get three whole items. When I got to the express line (you know, the line with the sign that says EXPRESS - 10 ITEMS OR LESS - CASH/ATM ONLY) there was a woman ahead of me with a whole cart-load of stuff.

I held my tongue until she whipped out with the food stamps and WIC vouchers.

Then I looked up at the express line sign, then looked at the checker and said "I was beginning to think for a second that the express sign was missing. But it's still there..." as I pointed at said sign.

WTF is the point of having an express line when you're going to allow people to take a hundred items through and pay with food stamps and WIC vouchers, while the line of people with 10 items or less continues to grow behind them?

Grow a set Safeway! Start telling these inconsiderate pricks to go to a regular line!

Quit making me do it for you...


*Goddess* said...

As a former cashier, may I just say, they're in the middle. If the cashier tells the person to take a hike, like she REALLY, REALLY wants to, the customer more than likely goes straight to the boss and complains that the cashier turned her away. And believe it or not--insert eye roll here--the boss very rarely sticks up for the cashier.

Me said...

What's almost as annoying are the inconsiderate asshats who get into that lane with just a few things and then whip out a CHECKBOOK and only start to fill out the check after everything has been tallied and bagged and you and the other "Cash only" customers are just standing there because your time means nothing to these boobs...nothing at all.

DJMooreTX said...

I have to go with Officer "Smith" here.

I understand the problem that cashiers face. I strongly suspect that stores have found that the least delay, on average, is to just check the jerk through, and get her out of the store. (Almost always women, in my experience, but then, most grocery store shoppers are women.)

However, what's really happening here is that rude, bad behavior is being rewarded. I'm really tired of this in general. We're trying to be nice, we're trying to make allowances, and we're being mocked and punished for it.

Can't ask the stores to stop it, though. They have to go by the spreadsheets, and they have a very serious interest in keeping the peace, which means not challenging rudeness.

That leaves it up to us, the other customers, to show that we are willing to delay ourselves by challenging rudeness.

Be polite. Don't start a fight. Simply say something along the lines of "This is the express line, ma'am, ten (or fifteen, or whatever) item limit. No, no, go on through, get out of our way now that you've started. Just don't do it again.

"No, I don't care that you want to get back to your life as soon as possible. Guess what? We have lives too."

By the way, this works much, much better if you speak up before they start actually checking out. I've had the opportunity to do this once or twice, and it works very well. (Last time, I turned to the woman in line behind me with a loaded basket, caught her eye, and pointed to the sign. "Oh, sorry, didn't see that." Zip, gone, done. I think the fact that I, personally, wasn't inconvenienced counted in my favor.)

Mind now, back down in the face of aggression. Don't make Officer "Smith" (or worse, AD) have to come in and save your ass. Abandon your basket, and walk out of the store. (I have not had to try this myself, but that's my plan.)

But stand up for courtesy, even if it costs you an extra ten minutes or so.

DJMooreTX said...

Let me add, this is very, very hard to do. I've passed up more opportunities than I've taken.

The respect that I have for the police is that it's their job to intervene like this, in far worse situations.

However, this is an example of Peel's Seventh Principle in action: "The police are the people, and the people are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to attend full time to duties incumbent on every citizen."

Front Porch Society said...

Good for you for saying something! Hope the woman learned her lesson the embarrassing way and will choose a regular lane the next time she thinks about shopping there.

David Woycechowsky said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DJMooreTX said...

Except, David, as Goddess noted, it is often store policy to let the rude person through, and to actually punish the clerk for enforcing the sign. The clerk wants to do the right thing, likely more than you do, but her hands are tied.

Don't make it her fault. Don't complain about her, if complain you must; complain about the store policy.

Why do you want to make things hard for the one person with the absolute least power in the whole situation?

Don't abandon your citizen's responsibility to stand your ground.

And please don't turn everything into an opportunity to throw everybody involved into legal tar pit.

MTBLaura said...

Sorry David W, but your approach is a COWARD approach. If you can't say it out loud and give the person a chance to even realize that they need to correct a wrongdoing, then you are just an ass. People like you deserve to stand in line and seethe. But, seeing as I have read many of your other comments before, it's obvious why you think your way is the best.

C. Strong said...

It appears as if the stores "express" lane is more of a suggestion, and not a rule. See if this applies to other areas of the store, such as their "price" for items.

The only thing I have been able to say in similar situations is stuff to myself. mostly "You've got to be shitting me" and my personal favourite "California public schools at work".

David Woycechowsky said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
TK said...

I work at one of the 3 local WalMarts and we're not allowed to kick people out of our lines for too many items. :( Stupid policy but they are afraid of offending the person in the wrong and don't seem to care about the person who's in the right.

I'm going to kinda agree with EVERYONE. Yes, say something (nicely) to the customer in the wrong. But also complain to the store about their policy that ties the cashiers' hands. If the stores are more afraid of losing customers by NOT enforcing the signs, they will untie the cashiers' hands and allow them to kick offending parties out of their lines.

Sabra said...

One of the problems for cashiers is that, at least here, they're blinded quite a bit by the other people in their line, the other line, and the display in their own line. So it's not until after the offender has unloaded the full cart and whipped out the wrong form of payment that they even know about it, and at that point there's really nothing to be done.

That said, I actually have seen someone turned away from an express lane for having too many items. It was at a newly-opened register on the end, and the cashier was able to easily send them away. This was at a local HEB, which is also the only place where the signs say "10 Items or Fewer", the way it should be.

Alex said...

I second what Goddess says. When I've done cashiering, the bosses have criticized me from doing basic things like demanding teacher ID for teacher discounts and attempting to prevent coupon fraud. Retail managers couldn't care less about any "express lane" policy, all they care about is minimizing complaints. Kicking someone out of an express lane is a quick way to get written up or fired.

Oh, and David, retail employees have no "command presence". Everyone already knows that they have to tolerate everything short of physical abuse.

DJMooreTX said...

David W: "Well, if you feel that way..."

I don't "feel that way",it's a fact; see Goddess', TK's, Sabra's and Alex's posts.

The cashier has no "command presence" to "violate". And what about my authority, as a citizen? You want to make us all helpless sheep.

Stores won't, can't, enforce this rule unless customers make it clear, on the scene, that doing so is the fastest, quietest way to move customers through the line.

Note my example: I didn't start an argument, I pointed at a sign.


In cases like this, I'm convinced, letters are useless. The only thing that matters is sales. (I'm not criticizing corporations here, that's just the way it has to work.)

Your letter must coincide with an abandoned basket, and a permanently lost customer. And enough of those to make a statistically significant difference in the quarterlies.

Good for HEB, Sabra, and I mean that, but I don't have one within reach.

My best option is to improve things locally, at the line I'm in when the issue crops up at the Kroger's within two blocks of my home.


MTBLaura: "Cowardly". Hear, hear.

David Woycechowsky said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mad Jack said...

The cashier has no real authority, which is a shame because check out lines would move along faster if the cashier did have authority along with responsibility. The cashiers are the people actually doing the work, and are very likely to know a whole lot more about their job than any of the managers.

I agree with Officer Smith. People who stall the cashier line are taking up the time of the customers behind them. There isn't a thing wrong with complaining to the inconsiderate person who's taking up other people's time.

Officer "Smith" said...

As promised, all of Woycechowsky's asinine comments have been deleted.

Please, my loyal readers, do not respond to him in the future on my blog. His obvious attempts at turning the express line situation into a farce are only successful if we respond to him.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who realized David was attempting to parallel this situation with a law enforcement personnel complaint.

Let's all just ignore his pointless, inane and irrelevant comments until I can delete them.

Thanks y'all...

*Goddess* said...

The ONLY rule we were taught as cashiers is "the customer is always right"...yeah, except for when they're WRONG:)

Texas Ghostrider said...

Just ask the cashier to have the manager come over. Then ask the manager to check you out on a register beings the express is not an express. That takes the cashier out of the mix, makes the manager have to do something especially if their are people behind you looking for his reaction. Usually he will take you and some others to a check out line and get you out of there.

Front Porch Society said...

Great idea, Texas Ghostrider! :)

David B. Woycechowsky said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
TK said...

Texas Ghostrider's suggestion is a good alternative. At WalMart the cashier can push a few buttons on his/her register and alert the CSM's that lines are long and/or request they come down. The CSM can then hop on a register for a moment to help. (CSM = Customer Service Manager)

Syd said...

My father-in-law had a similar experience waiting behind a middle age lady with 15+ more items in an express line. He couldn't stand it no more and finally told the lady that she sould go to other line and placed his own items in front of her and asked other customers to move in front of her. He also complained to the manager. lol Wish I was as tough as he.

Tech Writer Grrrrl said...

Sometimes it's not the customer... I was at the Albertson's the other day and in the regular line, which was long, and the checker from the express lane pulled me over to his line because there was no one there. I protested, as I had a half-full cart, but he insisted. About half way through ringing up my stuff someone got in the line behind me and started giving me the look and, as you did, glancing up at the express lane sign. I know what they were thinking, but it wasn't my fault! I can read, but the checker thought that keeping the other lines moving, too, was just as important as keeping his for expresses.

*Goddess* said...

My big store pet peeve is not people who hog up the fast checkout lane, it's people who bring their DOGS into the store. Unless they're seeing eye dogs, the grocery store is not a place for an animal. I'm an animal lover, but I have the sense to leave my dog at home when I shop. Not only is it disgusting, in most places the store can get fined for allowing it, but I'm seeing it more and more. It's mostly women who don't realize their dogs have actual legs that work and end up carrying them everywhere.

Officer "Smith" said...


I think you and Mrs. Smith would get along well.

She hates it when people bring their little yappy dogs in the store too. Not to mention it's a violation of the Health code.

She will actually say something to the dog "owner" most of the time.

The Pup said...

So I'm driving to work today, listening to the radio.

"A person was arrested in Idaho today for having more items in the express lane than allowed..."

It doesn't sink in until the radio hosts start chatting about it more. I burst out laughing so hard I wondered if I'd have to pull over.

Made me think of this post, which I read yesterday.

Were you the one to arrest them? Huh, huh? Hehe.

Apparently someone had said something to the person and they started getting really belligerent and hostile and the police were called. So, alas, not an arrest for actually having too many items...but close enough to make me go "YES!". US is more and more tempting to move to every day.

Officer "Smith" said...

HA! Nope, t'weren't me. I's not in Idaho.

The Bus Driver said...

People do things like this because they know they can. They know they can get away with more than 10 items in the express lane because there is an entitlement complex. People have a "me first" complex and have complete disregard for their fellow human beings. Its the same complex that allows a person to buy complete junk food with no nutritional value on their EBT/Food Stamps.

It bothers me when people use government money on junkfood. I like the WIC program because it FORCES people to purchase items that they need and have good nutritional value, such as cereal and milk, and formula, and juice.. etc. Sure their choice of cereal is complete junk, but at least you know its got some form of food value than the snickers bar at the checkout line.

TK said...

It bothers me when people use government money on junkfood.

I would inadvertently do this when I was on food stamps. I didn't realize that it paid for candy and stuff. I figured it'd kick that out just like it kicks out alcohol and clothing. So I put it all together up on the belt and was shocked when it paid for it. You're right. It shouldn't. I wish it would reject anyone's food stamps if there is alcohol on the tab too. As a cashier I have seen people buy $50 worth of alcohol AND food on food stamps. That irks me.

Kimberly said...

I agree..and those people who are using food stamps, EBT cards or WIC vouches...for the love of Pete, please look a little less wealthy and little more poverty stricken. Let me know that I am paying for your food for the right reasons.

Officer "Smith" said...

HA! It always bugs me to see the person take the food they just bought with food stamps, and load it into the back of their Escalade!

Loren Pechtel said...

As others have said, the current system rewards bad behavior.

For the checker to kick them out of line slows things down and generates complaints. The people that do it don't care about being seen as rude.

Thus to truly solve the problem requires a different approach. How about: "Express lane. Over 10 items will be charged 10% extra."

The cashier can override this if they call someone into their lane like happened to Tech Writer Grrrrl. (I've had the same thing happen to me more than once.)

On the other hand, I'm not sure anything will get through to some customers. Many years ago we had a truly humungous load of markdown items. Everything required a manual price override and the computer would yap about the degree of markdown and that needed overriding also.

Every time someone tried to get in line behind us I warned them that we were going to be there a lot longer than it looked (we weren't even using the belt, everything was on carts out where the bagger usually stands, it was brought up for scanning and then back onto another cart), they ought to go to another line. One family got in line anyway and then griped about how slow things were going. Then another did the same thing!