#953 When the cashier opens up a new checkout lane at the grocery store

Smile like you mean it

Though I hate to admit it, I am a slow, indecisive mess in the grocery store checkout lane.

Since I am an extremely cheap person, I watch the prices scroll up on screen like a hawk, often saying things like “Oh, I thought that was on sale,” or, “Actually, I don’t really want that anymore,” forcing the cashier to call in price-checks to the unresponsive produce department or find a temporary home for the pack of melting Fudgsicles I’ve decided to leave off my list last minute.

And because I’m watching the screen so closely, I start late and take forever to bag my groceries and pay, awkwardly leaving my shopping cart blocking the lane for the next customer, a metal criss-crossed castle knight enforcing a firm “Thou shall not pass” law in its trademark silence.

Yes, I clog up the line and annoy everybody behind me. I’m one of four People You Don’t Want To Stand Behind in the grocery line, together with:

  • Fidgety Grandma, who on cue dumps a pile of warm nickels on the counter to pay and then slowly counts them out by sliding them across the counter with her index finger
  • Flyer Guy, who hands the cashier a dog-eared flyer from home, forcing him or her to manually tear out all the coupons while everybody waits
  • No-Math Jack, who sneaks in piles of extra items onto the Express Lane and acts like it’s no big deal

A warm glow

Yes, those tense, winding checkout lanes can be a pretty rough go sometimes. It’s not easy out there. You have to watch the anxiety levels, keep that blood pressure in check.

That’s why there are few things better than a spritely new cashier hopping onto the scene, grabbing the ‘next lane please’ sign from the end of the belt, flicking on the lightbulb above their station, and offering a loud, beaming “Next customer, please!,” to the scowling, stressed-out masses.

When that cashier lightbulb goes on, a bright warm glow showers down upon everybody waiting. People like me feel less guilty about holding up the line and folks at the end win the big front-of-the-line jackpot. Yes, it’s one, giant mood swing, one massive swelling of goodwill, complete with buzzing chatter, a few laughs, and even the occasional crinkly plastic sound of a tightly wound frowning turning upside down.

And sure, there’s a bit of line etiquette to sort out. Who gets first dibs on this new empty lane, after all? But it’s almost always better for everybody, regardless of what happens. So most of us, we just smile and enjoy the ride.


Photos from: here, here and here

24 thoughts on “#953 When the cashier opens up a new checkout lane at the grocery store

        1. I first heard buggies when I went to Florida … I’m originally from NJ, and we call them carriages. You say trolley, and i think of Mr rogers ;)

            1. trolley’s said, I think of the old city buses or what are called zip-lines today!
              My husband is Polish, from a teeny-tiny hick town and calls them strollers! It erks me b/c I’m from Vancouver where “with it” people far as I know have always called them buggies!
              I do suppose the correct is shopping cart transformer into go-cart, get-away car and home for other purposes….eh?!*

  1. I’m the pain-in-the-neck you don’t want to get behind because I chat soooo much with the clerk as well as everyonen else in line! But then, I am most likely to let others go ahead of me in line (gives me more time to chat…LOL!), so maybe I’m not so bad. But then when I let them ahead I talk their ears off, so maybe you’d better avoid me. But I make the whole experience more fun with my chatty drivel. But my chatty drivel can be annoying. On the safe side, as soon as they call the newly opened line, run, don’t walk to it and avoid my line at the check-out! ~Kathy~

      1. Needless to say, it’s been my nickname since childhood. Admittedly, it fits. LOL! I never actually had the doll, but I did have the talking Mrs. Beasley. :)

  2. I’m not the best person to get in that new line b/c I tend to see something another shopper has that reminds me of something I forgot or need anyway and out of line I am, but again!

  3. I just love this post. I love to watch everyone in the check out lanes when we are all queued up waiting. Sometimes it’s really funny what you see. I always have a sticky beak at what other people have in their shopping carts. But I always make it is a furtive glance as people get really self conscious if you stare for too long! :-) Ah yes the new checkout lane is just blissful! Love it!

    1. Sticky Beak…OMG, that is so fun! Never heard that expression before, but it’s now my new fave!

  4. I love it when this happens. I am suddenly transported from the back of the line to the front. Beam me up front, Scotty! Anyway, yeah. This is indeed quite awesome.

  5. Screaming, crying kids can open some new lines. I’ve had quite a few open up for me when I’ve had restless kids with me. They either don’t want to hear it or they feel sorry for me. Either way, I get out quicker.

  6. Same idea… different place. A new lane opened up at the airport for me last week! Already had my shoes off, liquids and jacket in the bin so I picked up the whole mess and moved to a pristine, empty queue. Happy moments like this rarely happen in airport security. It was Awesome!!

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