Monday, January 14, 2013

Not So Fast

I don't particularly like waiting in lines.  Yes, it is a rare day when I don't have a couple of forms of entertainment in my bag, but my theory is one of the things that people like most about online or catalog shopping is the elimination of the line. Of course, there are things for which the immediacy overrules my desire to avoid lines, such as getting a pair of boots right now, or food.  And so we have lines.  Much like the parking spot search I am generally of the view that one should do a pass past all the lines to check for newly opened, or seemingly accidentally ignored lines.  This is especially true when there are double stacks of registers.  And sometimes, I have just a few things and might consider the express and/or self check outs. 
My first reason to love self check outs is that it annoys me when some baggers will somehow turn my small basket of items into three to four plastic bags.  With the rise in DC of the bag tax, and also reusable shopping bags, this has improved.  But, some places also have a number of registers, with one big line assigned to their self or express checkout, so even if there are more people in line, the relative speed with which you might make it to a register seems higher.  But where there is one self or express checkout register, this article suggests you are better off moving elsewhere. 
I personally am a fan of picking one person who has a ton of stuff but seems very organized.  It's a risky maneuver, because you also want an efficient checker, but most people look at the volume of stuff and pick another line, whereas if this person already has their coupons and their payment method ready, this could go really fast, while, as the article points out those three people with smaller batches in the other line all turn into line stoppers. 
But, in addition to hopefully providing some good info about lines, it also brings up an interesting point.  We often have assumptions about what certain things will or won't cause things to take long, and then when faced with the actual math, find, that whoops no.  Something to ponder.