There are 20-plus checkouts at all Wal-Marts. Why is it that typically only five of those lanes are open at any given time? 2 p.m. on a Saturday? Five lanes. Noon on a Thursday? Five lanes. 6 p.m. on a Wednesday? Five lanes.
Tonight, the “Speedy 20-Items-Or-Less” checkouts were closed. The SPEEDY ones. The ones that let you grab a few items and get the heck out of dodge in a relatively short amount of time. Closed. At 6:30 p.m. on a Tuesday. At about the time people are stopping by on their way home from work to pick up a few items for dinner. The lone “10-Items-or-Less” checkout was open. It’s always open because it’s the one next to the tobacco products, and you can’t very well ever close the checkout next to the tobacco products. (Maybe that’s a regional thing.)
The woman in front of me had exactly 10 items. The couple in front of that woman had 10 items also. I know this because I had a lot of spare time to count things. The woman behind me had 10 kids. And three carts. I didn’t bother counting up the items in her carts.
I did give an “I’m-so-sorry-you-got-stuck-checking-out-people-who-can’t-count-or-read-signs” look to the poor guy behind the register.
Start to finish? 30 minutes from the moment I picked up a rotisserie chicken located right next to the entrance to the moment the cashier handed me my receipt. In between those moments, I reflected much on the ways in which Wal-Mart could improve its customer flow and little on the virtues of patience.
Perhaps “speedy” is a relative term?