I just do not understand grocery stores. When I read the sign “Express Lane: ten items or less,” I was under the impression that this was a lane for people in a hurry. I was clearly mistaken. This is a lane for people who cannot count.
It seemed simple enough—ten items or less. This should mean you can have ten items or any number of items that is less than ten, like four, or seven, or nine items for example. It is not ten items plus less than ten other items. I was confused. These seemed like nice educated people in line with me. Maybe they thought hand lotion, milk, orange juice, yogurt—these are all non-solids—one item.
I quickly discovered that express lanes are not fast lanes. This was not just baseless complaining. I had proof. As always, I tested my ability to pick a good line. I noted that I could have been behind that man in the red jacket, but I took the express lane, because I had only nine items (plus one item of fruits/vegetables/cans of soup). The man in the red jacket checked out. Then the two people behind him checked out. I was still reading the same magazine cover that I was when I got in my lane. I considered switching lanes. But I reminded myself that choosing a lane is like the stock market. I couldn’t worry about the ups and downs. I was in this for the long haul. No need to panic. Stay the course and all will even out. Two more people in the other lane check out. I could not read this magazine cover any longer.
I looked to the front of my line and discovered the problem. The lady at the front tells the cashier “I’m sorry I could not find the tomato soup. Can you please send someone?” Maybe that is why it an express lane. You can go straight to the line without even having to find all of your items. It is express in, but slow out.
The lady then uses a coupon. She is mystified that the cashier will not accept it, even though it is from 1994 and the store manager explains that the store offering the coupon went out of business and this is now a different store.
Finally the lady decides to write a check. She hands it to the teenage check-out girl. This girl has never seen a check before. She has no idea what it is. She holds it up to the light. “I’m sorry Ma’am, but this is not a real $98.41 bill.”
The lady does not hear this, though. She is still frantically rummaging through her purse for her rewards card. Rewards cards are another thing tough to figure out. Special discount rates for reward card holders. All of my experiences with rewards cards go like this:
“Do you have a rewards card?”
“Do you want to sign up for a free one now?”
Then the next time I come to the store.
“Do you have a rewards card?”
“Yes, but I forgot it at home.”
“That’s okay. Just tell me your telephone number.”
I give my home number.
“I’m sorry that number is not in our system.”
I give my cell number.
“I’m sorry. That’s not in the system.”
“It’s probably my wife’s cell number. Hmmm. I have it on speed dial on my phone, but I forgot it in the car. I think it has a lot of fours and sevens.”
“Don’t worry. It’s okay. I’ll just scan my little card here.”
It’s like the world’s easiest test. All answers are accepted. It seems to qualify for the special rewards card rate all you have to do is be in the store and manage to find a checkout lane. Let’s save everyone some time and just do away with the test.
At least in the express lane, they should limit each customer to only two guesses at the phone number on their account. That would help a little.