robertr4836 (robertr4836) wrote in bad_service,
robertr4836
robertr4836
bad_service

WTF: Supermarket Line Etiquette Police

I've been bouncing this around in my head since it happened yesterday and I finally decided it was WTF enough to post. If I am wrong I'm sure I'll have people tell me so.


One of the supermarkets I frequent has an odd set-up for the 10 items or fewer registers. There are two registers but instead of being side by side they are in line with each other. It's not a single queue leading up to two registers; each register always has its own line. When it is really busy the 2nd register will have a longer line because there is limited line room on the register closer to the front and people will leave the 2nd register line to go into the 1st register line as space becomes available but that is as close as it gets to single queue status. Ever.

I have one item and I head to these registers. As I approach I see a line of three people at the 2nd register and I see no line at the first register although both have lights on. A woman is also approaching a bit ahead of me. She heads to the first register and I go to follow. She turns around and passes me to stand in line at the 2nd register. I see that the cashiers are changing shifts at the first register but I figure it will be quicker to wait for the new cashier to put in her drawer rather than be the fifth person in line at the other register.

As I am about to put my one item on the belt the new cashier says...
CSR: Were you in the other line?
Me: Excuse me?
CSR: Were you in the other line because there are other people that are in that line ahead of you.

Now, I understand where she is coming from. All four of those people were there longer than me so why should I get rung out first. I just seriously am confused because I have never had a cashier refuse to serve me because there are customers in other lines at other registers in the store who have been waiting longer than me. Still, I'm in a good mood and not in a hurry so I turn around and walk back to the other line of four people...

Me: (in a loud voice but not yelling) Hello! Would anyone care to use this register up here? There is no one at this register.

All four people are in that dead zone lines seem to induce in people and none of them even acknowledge me in the slightest or make any move to, well, move. This is going to be more difficult than I thought I think.

Me: (to the 2nd person in line) Sir! Would you like to use the first register? There is no one there.
2nd person: (smiles and nods) No. I'm good.

OK. I'm making progress. At least I have an acknowledgment of my existence.

Me: (to 3rd person in line) How about you sir? Would you like to use this open register? No line and no wait!
3rd person: Uhmm...sure (moves to go to the open register)

Success! I have accomplished my mission and I follow 3rd person to the register happy that I have fulfilled my quota and found someone for this cashier to ring up before me. She rings up his three items and then goes to ring up mine. I think she may have been a bit embarrassed at this point especially considering the hard time I had getting someone to come to her register.

CSR: I'm really sorry. I didn’t mean to make you do that.
Me: It's OK. It was fun.
CSR: It’s just that that blond woman was coming here ahead of you and then she just turned around.
Me: (looks and sees the same three people still in line at the 2nd register, the blond woman in question now third since I got someone out of the line in front of her) Yeah. She saw you were changing shifts and figured it would be quicker to get in line at the other register. I saw the same thing but I decided it would be quicker to wait for you to sign in.

I get my change and notice that the blond woman has had enough of standing in line at 2nd register and is now heading for 1st register. I lean in and whisper to the CSR as I am leaving, "Annnnd here she comes!”


Seriously, I understand the cashiers thought process and I have no problem with it. It's just very rare that someone does or says something that leaves me speechless and this was one of those rare times.

tldr: Cashier does not want to ring me up because there are other customers in other lines at other registers who have been waiting longer than me.

ETA: I think I must be pretty bad at describing this set-up. When you approach the two fast lane registers there is a line at each one. You look at how many people are in each line, how many items the people have, how fast the lines are moving and decide which of the two lines you want to get in. The only reason there was not a line at one of the registers on this particular occasion was because the register with no line was changing cashiers.

I expected this may not be as weird as it seemed to me and I might get a bunch of people saying this doesn't really reach WTF status...I really didn't expect to start getting comments telling me how the store I go to is set up but I guess if more than one person is coming away with that impression then it must be because I didn't describe it well enough.
Tags: *grocer, ^annoyance, ^wtf, op likes replying!, that's how lines work, wank, wtf service or wtf post?, you don't *always* gotta speak up
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