Joco Diversions

I was standing in line to pay when I realized ... I’ve lost my patience with lines

For columnist Sherry Kuehl, standing in line to check out has worn down her patience.
For columnist Sherry Kuehl, standing in line to check out has worn down her patience. AP Photo

You would think with everyone having a phone to occupy their brains that we, as a society, would have gotten better about waiting in line. There are emails to answer and the universe of social media to drown in.

But for some reason it seems like we’ve gotten even more impatient. And by we, I mean me.

I have become so impatient that the other day at the Nordstrom Rack I had to do some soothing inhales and exhales. What has happened to me that I think I’m too good to wait in line?

Correction: Too good to wait in some lines. Because I’m still processing why in July of 2014 — in a Florida heat wave (wait, is that an oxymoron?) with a humidity level that was so miserable I felt like I was swathed in towels that had been soaked in mayonnaise — I stood in a line at Disneyworld for 93 minutes to ride the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (which ended up being the lamest ride in the history of theme parks).

So, why was I okay enduring the misery of standing in that line and yet I was having a mental health crisis at the Rack? Needing human interaction and because I love chatting up strangers, I asked a woman standing next to me in line that very question. To her credit she didn’t look scared about my sudden true confession and gave it some serious thought.

Her three-word response: “self-checkout lanes.” Could that be it?

I will share that, at first, I wasn’t a fan of self-checkout. It seemed like another chipping away of customer service. But it didn’t take long for me to get on the self-checkout bandwagon. It was so fast, and I got to bag my groceries just how I liked them. Even better — no chit chat with the checker.

It’s not like I don’t like chit chat (see earlier where I divulged my love of talking to strangers). It’s that I don’t like comments about my grocery purchases. Hello, Trader Joe’s and your super skinny cashier that made a sarcastic comment about me buying waffles and maple syrup at 7 p.m. and asking if “that’s what I’m calling dinner?” Because my answer was yes and it was delicious.

My new “friend” standing in line with me soon began to open up. She shared that Sam’s Club had ruined her in regards to checkout experiences because there, you can use your phone to check out. When she told me this, I got goosebumps. I was that excited.

But not so excited I wasn’t doing a mental overhaul of the Rack and its three open checkout stations.

Why isn’t there a separate area for returns only? I was timing it and the average return was taking five minutes and sadly, most of the people in line were returning. Where was the love for the person buying?

That got me all riled up again, requiring more deep breathing, leading me to the conclusion that I was perhaps not even a self-checkout girl, but worse — a dedicated online shopper. I’m afraid once you can buy 36 rolls of Charmin 3-ply online and get free next-day delivery it deeply changes you — forever.

Reach Sherry Kuehl at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com, on Facebook at Snarky in the Suburbs, on Twitter at @snarkynsuburbs and snarkyinthesuburbs.com.

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