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Rush Hour

You know the busy time when everyone is at the store after work. It just happens that way sometimes. Tence, your uptight and want to get home. You just got all your goods( 15 or less). Well wouldn't you know it all the checkout stands are deep with people.I have seen you out there looking for the best line to get in. Do you take the 15 or less line with alot more people, or the one with fewer people and more groceries?

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  1. Whichever one I choose, it's always the wrong one.

    Either the nice old lady who wants to pay with pennies, which must be counted out individually, or the gabby one who can't write the check and talk at the same time, or "Price Check...." or the scanner's busted....

    It's always something.

    I generally scan for the total number of items ahead of me with a degree of difficulty for the number of carts, but it's hardly a guarantee.

    1. You gotta look at the amount of groceries and the type of people. Like Apu in the Simpsons, when he chooses the long line of "pathetic single men", "only cash, no chit-chat."

      My biggest annoyance are the people who wait until everything has been scanned before they start writing their check. Beyond the fact that I'm not sure why people are still writing checks at grocery stores, I'm always enraged that they don't bother to start filling in information BEFORE it's time to give it to the cashier.

      26 Replies
      1. re: bluex


        There's a grocery store near my office that I used to think was faster because it was smaller. But the vast majority of their customers remember WWII clearly and are either paying by check or cash, are chit-chatty, always arguing over price, have coupons, etc.

        I could drive 10 miles out of the way and get in and out faster.

        1. re: Janet from Richmond

          You know, for lots of old people, their trip to the grocery store may be the social event of their day or maybe even week. I figure the rest of us can just cool our heels and not make them feel like they're an annoyance. We all get old, except for those who don't, so some of us will be the customers who "remember 9/11 clearly" and won't we be a pain in the ass.

          1. re: escondido123

            +1. I just don't rush after work. Granted, I'm not cooking for a family or have kids to pick up from daycare, but I am not going to run around like a chicken with my head cut off. I *do* try and get in the shortest line, but as the subject line says, it's Rush Hour. And no matter what lane on a 4-lane highway I merge into, invariably it's going to slow down.

            I figure the checkout clerks are as tired as I am at 6pm. So if I can joke with them a bit and be nice, it makes it better for the both of us.

            1. re: escondido123


              One day, that "old person" you are annoyed at will be YOU.

              1. re: huiray

                If I reach the golden years that are anything but, I have no doubt I will be one of those people.

                1. re: huiray

                  Thank you, Huiray. The various references made about the elderly on these boards - even though I have the greatest respect for posters who are assisting older family members - annoys and irritates me. We will all age. And you may think you will age differently, but guess what? You probably won't. Please, posters, respect the previous generations. Y'all will be 'it' someday. And I assist my elderly mother. So I know.

                  1. re: nikkihwood

                    nikki.....I am well aware of eldercare and elder issues. I was 24 when I started caring for my Mom who was blind the last 6 years of her life.

                    So I know all about it as well.

                    1. re: nikkihwood

                      Right on! I think slamming certain groups in particularly gross ways gets a pass on Chowhound, and the elderly and kids are right in the bulls-eye. Add to it complaints against parents of children who don't do their parenting correctly and younger adults who don't know how to tip and act, and we each have pretty much 10 years of our life (maybe 25-35) where we are allowed to step out of our houses without being an affront to someone here!

                      1. re: Cachetes

                        you're right! Whenever I start to internally grumble about a "clueless" older person, I remember that my 82 year old father probably acts that way at times, and give them a pass, hoping some other middle-aged woman down in North Carolina will return the favor to him.

                  2. re: escondido123

                    +3. As I mentioned on another thread, circumstances have dictated that I go food shopping with my 83-year-old mom. It takes hours as she inspects products she has no intention of buying, chats with other customers, chats with the produce guy, chats with deli guy, chats with the cashier. But she's home all day every day, and unlike when we lived in the city, she can't go out and chat with the neighbors. So I try to compensate by bagging while she and the cashier chat ;) If I'm lucky that will be me some day.

                    1. re: gaffk

                      It used to drive my sister crazy when my parents talked about going out shopping at "rush hour." She suggested to them time and again that those hours were for people who worked and since they were retired they should go in the off hours when there was plenty of time to dawdle without slowing other folks down. Sometimes they followed her "rules," sometimes they went when they damn well pleased.

                      1. re: escondido123

                        Unfortunately her food shopping is at the mercy of my time. When dad was still around, they always shopped mid-day weekday. But she's short (4'10" before she lost those 2" old folks do) and arthritic. In the city she could walk to local markets that could cater to the elderly, but out here everything requires a drive in territory that is unfamiliar to her. Hence my empathy for the elderly.

                2. re: bluex

                  Definitely my main pet peeve...can't ever figure out why everything except the amount hasn't been filled out!!

                  1. re: bluex

                    I HATE it when people write checks! Please, step into the modern age. Almost as bad are the "exact change" people who feel the need to dig through their bag for five minutes "Hang on, I've got a couple more nickels in here somewhere". It won't kill you to get a little change back.

                    1. re: tinnywatty

                      1. Some people choose *not* to do everything electronically. That is there prerogative.

                      2. Perhaps they're digging for those nickels because they don't *have* any other money to pay for their groceries.

                      1. re: LindaWhit

                        Indeed. There are people who do not have credit cards, or who have balances (from medical bills, for example) on credit cards that cannot afford to add to their credit card balance and have yet more interest to pay. These people, for reasons of safety, don't carry around a lot of cash, but can manage a checkbook. (Also, paying by cash or check can be a great way to limit how much you spend as compared to a credit card.)

                        And, while the exact change people may seem OCD to us, some of them (particularly if quite old) are exercising muscles of certain competencies that might atrophy if not used regularly. (If you've not really observed how necessary this is with old people, you may yet be blessed to see this in action).

                        Yes, there are habits that can be annoying; but what is such a habit and what is actually a necessity (or nearly so) is not as obvious to strangers as it may seem.

                        It's always an opportunity for us to learn how to be patient, a lesson more human beings eventually discover they needed more of.

                        1. re: Karl S

                          I stopped with the exact change when I read it was one of the things that make women look "old." (I also worked in retail and have to say I it really didn't help me out much at all to get exact change--I always kept a dish of pennies to keep me from dolling out 99 cents in change. I also frequent many stores where they press a button and the change comes out a slot.)

                      2. re: tinnywatty

                        I am reminded of a couple days ago, when I, with 20 or so items, let the lady in back of me with 2 items, go in front of me. Then she asked for ciggies (trip by cashier to the courtesy desk) and pawed through her change purse for two extra pennies. Grrrrr.

                      3. re: bluex

                        i'm annoyed with people who wait for the check to say the amount then give a surprised, "oh!" wait a second, then start to rifle through their purse, bag, pockets, etc. were you not anticipating a monetary exchange of some sort? have you not been in a sales situation since 1892? has a checker even said, "oh just go ahead and take these ones for free!" this is how the grocery store (and world) work -- loot for loot (or dough for dough... or food for money) rant over.

                        to the poster below who mentions this being the only trip and social event, i try to be patient with the elderly, as i hope will be done for me when i'm old, senile, and unhip. however, i wish they wouldn't go at peak times to do the socializing (if possible), and i wish they wouldn't choose the express lane...

                        i have to give one older lady (80's) credit a couple of weeks ago... the checker was moving abominably slow, then sort of socializing with another checker. the older lady in front of me said, "excuse me, could you please finish up here? i could've checked myself out faster over there (points to self-checkout), and i'm OLD!" the checker sheepishly started to speed up. the lady gilds the lily, "you know i come through this line, so you can still have a job, but you stink at it. for a second there, i thought i was gonna pass my 86th birthday here, and have to go buy a cake! and your cakes stink out loud." i just bit my lip. hard.

                        1. re: Emme

                          Only proves that impatience and rudeness is ageless Emme. We all want what we want!!

                          1. re: HillJ

                            Oh, I could have kissed that old woman. I would never say anything like it... so I stood in reverent awe.

                            1. re: Emme

                              Too funny, Emme. Divide and conquer....even over the small issues of life.

                          2. re: Emme

                            I would love to be in line behind that old lady!

                            1. re: John E.

                              Hell, when I'm 80, I AM going to be her!

                            2. re: Emme

                              In Boston, she might have been applauded by other customers. Yankees tend to have a certain respect for demonstrations of piss and vinegar by elderly curmudgeons insisting on basic competence; it warms the cockles of our sometimes wintry hearts.

                              1. re: Karl S

                                Unless the shoes on the other foot and then those same piss and vinegar by elderly curmudgeons scream that us young'ins are so rude.

                                Yeah, it goes both ways Karl S. I know you profess such manners.

                          3. I'm another "it's always the wrong line" person. Aren't we all?

                            Most recently I chose Door #2, mostly so I could be out of the way, as the 12 or less aisle was wrapping around the store. So of course, the person with the huge haul has to separate her cartful into about 8 separate cash transactions, paying for each separately.

                            I couldn't even be annoyed, I just laughed a little because OF COURSE that's how it goes.

                            1. Sometimes I just look to see who the checker is. Since I usually shop at the same stores I usually know the fast ones and the slow ones. Unfortunately you never know who is checking out in front of you!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Mother of four

                                i do too! i have often found that the young kids who are smiling are the fastest and most efficient. i try to watch out for anyone looking surly or bored.

                              2. Scan as you go! Many people are intimidated and although I may wait sometimes it is still faster than a line that still needs to be scanned.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: melpy

                                  That's not an option at any store in my neck of the woods.

                                2. I pick the line with the best magazines. Can't do much about the lines so I pick one I imagine will move the fastest, go up to the front and snag a couple of magazines, then use my time in line to catch up on the lastest fashion, food, or gossip news.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: tcamp

                                    tcamp, that's exactly how I handle it...I read. And frankly I don't blame customers as much as I would point to the industry standard. Grocery stores are now FOOD MALLS. There is no quick. It takes time to just walk the store; even if you go in with a plan and your coupons/specials checked off--you gotta walk the store. Then there's the policies. Our local Stop & Shop has a policy that if you buy something and the register rings it out with the wrong price you get that item for FREE. Well, even a line that started out with just me is going to turn into someone else having to wait while the cashier calls a Mgr. to price check the item and change the register tab to FREE for that x item. I don't walk away from FREE. :)

                                    So, we can blame the other guy all we want but it's a planet of a few million, if you aren't use to the inconvenience of truth, shop for your food online.

                                    1. re: tcamp

                                      Once in awhile I get up to the cashier and want to say "but wait, I haven't gotten all the details on why Star XXXX decided to divorce Director YYYY." That always makes me chuckle.

                                    2. I don't go to the grocery store during rush hour, midday weekends or when the weatherman says it's gonna snow. Just not worth the hassle. And for me it's not the checkout lines, it's the sheer number of people in the aisles blocking access to what I want. My favorite time to shop is after 8pm mid week. The deli isn't open, but I don't usually get deli meat andthe aisles are wide open!

                                      1. I do pretty well with my "if I had been behind that person I 'd still be waiting" game. I will often get in the line with fewer people even if they have more items. NOT if they have overflowing carts or look old and slow or are distracted by children. The 12 items or less (fewer!) lines here tend to be next to the cigarette shelves and express cashiers are in charge of cigarettes which can really slow things down.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: calliope_nh

                                          That's the method I use in the waiting game. "If I'd had been behind that person I'd still be waiting".Maybe jumping out of line into another just to get out of there. It's a gamble. I know it's being impatient .The bottom line is I try not to shop at these times. Going to the grocery store with my list and just cruising I really enjoy it. Just try to have your check,debit,credit card or method of payment ready in line. It makes things run smoother, even for the cashier.

                                          1. re: calliope_nh

                                            Psychologically, the best thing to do is to pick one of the lines and the end. If you're in the middle, with a line on either side of you, even if the lines speed is random, you have a 2/3 chance that one of the lines beside you will move faster, and a 1/3 chance that you're in the faster line.

                                            At an end line the chances of being in the faster line is 50% (again, assuming that you can't accurately predict which line will be fastest).

                                            It won't get you out of the store faster, but will make you feel less frustrated.

                                          2. I choose by which cashier is on the line. I stop at the same store 2-3 times a week after work (I'm a bad planner/shopper!) I know which cashiers keep their lines moving and seem to do it regardless of the problems presented. There's one guy and one gal that are the best. I look for them. My favorite checker isn't working there anymore. She was awesome... managed to chat up those who needed it, deal with problems, process coupons in a flash, etc... So sad she is gone!

                                            1. Unless those in front of you have carts packed to the rafters with hundreds of dollars of groceries you are almost always better off with the line with the fewer number of customers instead of many customers with 15 items each in the 'fast lane'. I recently read a study on this and the actual transactions take longer than scanning the items.

                                              1. The best approach if this is a hassle for you is to patronize stores like Hannaford that have a single line, and where people are routed to the next available register. If you have any like that.

                                                1. I always scan my own if I can. The stores I visit are sauvy and have 6+ you scans. Most people are still scared of them and I'm in and out in no time no matter the time or day of the week.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: Crockett67

                                                    When I use these, I feel like I'm contributing to the replacement of human jobs with automated machines.

                                                    1. re: tinnywatty

                                                      That is why I take a horse and buggy wherever I go. I do not want the replacement of that human buggy drivers job with a machine such as an automobile.

                                                      I use the self-checkout. Usually the lines are short, the people only have a few items and they are not for the most part writing out checks or paying in nickles and pennies.

                                                      1. re: Fowler


                                                        But true dat' with the nickles and dimes craziness!

                                                  2. at the store closest to me, which can have notoriously slow lines, it is much more important to pick the right cashier than the right number of people or number of items in their carts.

                                                    as for the older talkative people, i figure if theyre 90 and still able enough to do their shopping on their own, they have darn well earned the right to sit there and talk all they want.

                                                    tonight though, i did have one couple in front of me, where the husband told the wife they forgot something while still in line. but they waited all the way until all their items were scanned and the cashier had told them their total to actually announce that one of them was going to go get it. I understand if you forget something and run to get it while in line or when they start scanning, but if theyre done, then sorry i think you need to stand in line again. or at least pay for whats been scanned already and let the next person go while you grab it.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                      1. re: escondido123

                                                        if they can just hold on a few more years....!

                                                    1. For me, it never matters. Whichever line I choose, that is the one with 15 "price checks," or a clerk, who must take a break. Whichever line I am in - get into another.

                                                      Same for the TSA line. I will choose the shortest, and then, there will be someone in an explosives-laden wheelchair, who will be wheeled to the head of my line. Never fails.


                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                        I will freely admit to being the person who can pick the one item out of a display of 1000 items that either has a barcode that the machine can't/won't read, or the one item in the store that the tag has fallen off of......drives me nuts.

                                                      2. There is only one thing that really really bugs me in a supermarket: All of the lines are long. All of the carts are overloaded. Some people even have two. I'm behind a fidgety woman with two, FINALLY she begins unloading her carts. I help her to keep things moving. Finally her last three cans of pork and beans are on the belt. At long last she steps up to the checker, opens her more than ample purse and starts pulling out wallets and wallets and wallets of COUPONS...! Dear God, WHY ME??? WHY!!!

                                                        1. I go to one store or another to buy food, drink, or something related thereto nearly everyday. I see all sorts of people doing all sorts of shit. I let the spirit guide me when choosing an exit strategy - if the place has more than one way to check out. Nevertheless, as the man said, "Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. Sometimes it rains."

                                                          1. I almost never do the shopping which requires a full grocery cart. The one store where there frequently is a line is at Aldi but those clerks are so fast it does not take long. There are two grocery stores that we frequent that have self-checkouts. I try to get into that line if there is only one or two people waiting (there are 4 self-checkout stations).

                                                            I used to get frustrated and impatient waiting for other shoppers to get checked out. Then I helped my father take care of my mother in her last years and somehow the waiting does not seem so burdensome any longer. She had dementia the last couple years of her life and she had good days and bad days. On her good days we tried to get her out of the house. One of the things she enjoyed was a simple trip to the grocery store, something of course she did for most of her life. I would put her in one of those electric scooters with the basket on the front and she would drive with me hanging on to the basket. Occasionally she would ditch me. Well, she didn't actually ditch me, but if I wasn't paying attention she would drive off on her own and I'd have to look down every aisle searching for her. Once in a SuperTarget I had to enlist the help of a couple of young store employees to find her. So now the little things don't bother me so much anymore.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                              That's a precious and priceless story, bless you for sharing it with us! I had to use one of those "scooters" a few years ago while recovering from surgery, and the greatest fun was motoring off on my without anyone hanging over my shoulder making sure that I didn't tip over somehow...wheeeee!!!

                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                That is a wonderful story, John.

                                                              2. If it's busy I try to enter a "zen" state before walking in. I tell myself to move slowly, let others go ahead in aisles, and to breath deeply. Sounds cheesy but it always works. It just isn't worth getting worked up over.

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: UTgal

                                                                  Periodically, if I have to wait in a line I do yoga balancing by lifting one food off the floor. Not so much that people notice--but then again maybe they do--but just enough to force me to balance on the one foot.

                                                                  1. re: escondido123

                                                                    >>>Periodically, if I have to wait in a line I do yoga balancing by lifting one food off the floor<<<

                                                                    Not sure I get this one. You do some sort of yoga while lifting food off the floor? Like deadlifts with a watermelon or something?

                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                        Thank you sunshine. Poor typing on my part. Yes "foot"...well at least I got it right the second time.

                                                                2. I get to go the stores during non-peak times so I see elderly folks shopping for fun all the time. My dad was the same way, loved his daily run to the store. But I am finding they get really annoyed when the person in front of them is the one taking "too long"! Yup, the same little old lady that wanted to chat with me in Aisle 5 is now sighing and mumbling about people taking their own sweet time. Makes me laugh each time. We all think it's the other person who is taking too long. ;)

                                                                  1. I had without doubt one of the weirdest rush-hour experiences just the other night.

                                                                    I needed a batch of cookies for a last-minute potluck, but I was out of butter. Zipped around the corner to the closest store and grabbed the butter. Cooll, thought I. In and out quickly, said I.

                                                                    Har. Har. Har.

                                                                    The customer at the register was just opening her purse...but she took out a plastic tub (like you'd buy dip or similar in) -- it was chock full of change -- grrr...but at least it's all larger coins. Unusual, but I didn't give it too much thought, as this is in a less-affluent neighborhood, and it was the end of the month.

                                                                    She hands it to the cashier and tells her to count it out. The total bill was 7.21 -- so the cashier is counting it out one euro at a time (and not very quickly). As she is counting, the scanner reads the bar code on the tub and adds another 2.50 to the bill. Call the manager, get him to approve the credit...but he doesn't want to believe that the scanner read an empty tub. Sheesh.

                                                                    That gets sorted, but by now, the cashier has put *all* the coins back into the tub, so now she has to start over. One......two.......Finally she gets to 7. Great. Almost done. Then she realizes that it's 7.21 (Europe has 20-cent pieces, not 25-cent pieces)....so she's aactually counting on her fingers.

                                                                    All through this the, erm, neighborhood eccentric is hanging over my shoulder, helping her count....and I can't go anywhere as I'm trapped against the shopping cart ahead of me for the lady at the register.

                                                                    Quickly I dig a one-cent piece out of my wallet and hand it over -- yay, at least I headed *that* one off at the pass.

                                                                    Weird guy is now making commentary about using a tub as a wallet -- still hanging over my shoulder.

                                                                    Fortunately by this point, I had the exact change out and ready, but yike.

                                                                    (and I'm not picking on the cashier.by the way -- just frustrating that a 5-minute trip can spiral into 20 minutes so fast.

                                                                    1. I'm just really thankful that my store has scanners that you check out when you enter the store, so you can scan and bag as you go- makes checkout a breeze, and my groceries are packed the way I want them.

                                                                      18 Replies
                                                                      1. re: JenJeninCT

                                                                        How do they make sure the scanners don't go missing? Do they use the same systems that includes tags on expensive clothing so the bell rings if they don't deactivate it and try to leave the store?

                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                          Our scanners are not a hand held device; they are attached to the checkout area.

                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                            HillJ, you don't have the ones where you can walk about the store with them, scanning as you put your groceries into bags? I know the Stop & Shops have them, although I've never used them. Similar to this:



                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                              LW, they only have four on site @ my local S&S and every time I've seen them a Mgr. or attendant is actually holding the unit and demonstrating it to a customer. My impression was that these hand devices were being beta-tested. But the scanners in produce and at self-check out are very popular.

                                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                                Interesting. Our S&S's have had them for several years. I guess they roll them out in different market areas at different times.

                                                                                And yes - I like those scanners in produce and at checkout, especially if they've got ENOUGH of them (usually 3-4 at my various markets).

                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                  they've been common in France now for over a year - and yes, they absolutely save a LOT of time.

                                                                                  Probably money, too, because more than once I've scanned something and said -- nope not paying that much -- or found the same thing for less down the aisle.

                                                                          2. re: John E.

                                                                            The scanners are hand held units that you walk around the store with. The carts even have scanner holders on them. I don't know what, if any security, the scanners themselves have, but I can't imagine why anyone would want to take one. My store (stop & Shop) just introduced an app, so I can now use my iPhone to scan instead of one of the store's scanners. All of the Stop & Shop stores in my area have large banks(charging stations) of scanners- holding maybe 40-50 scanners, at each entrance.

                                                                            I guess you could, in theory, "get away" with unscanned items -at least sometimes- at S&S, orders are randomly audited, so a cashier will come by and scan items in your bags (always at the worst possible times, natch).

                                                                            1. re: JenJeninCT

                                                                              That's what I've been using the App for scanning products. It works really well and I don't have to retrieve and return a scanner. Or, walk with a store Mgr. who appears to love to discuss these new devices with customers. The S&S website itself also provides a good deal of info, coupons, super deals, etc. just by logging in before heading into the store.

                                                                          3. re: JenJeninCT

                                                                            And I'm just curious, does the scanner know everything that goes into the cart? Like that expensive can of crab?

                                                                            1. re: DGresh

                                                                              An attendant is always nearby checking customers who are checking out.

                                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                                I was asking about JenJeninCT's scanners, which are apparently some sort of hand-held thing. I've used the self-check-out-lanes myself.

                                                                                1. re: DGresh

                                                                                  See my reply to HillJ just above re: the hand-held scanners.

                                                                                  1. re: DGresh

                                                                                    Thanks for the clarification. It appears I was typing my response at the same time you were typing your clarification. Good question though.

                                                                                    1. re: DGresh

                                                                                      See my reply above. I haven't used one of the handheld devices myself yet.

                                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                                        LOL! Double "see my reply above"s. :-)

                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                          I know, too funny. I'll have to pay attention the next time I head to S&S to see the deal-o on the handheld scanners...although the App on my phone does a pretty decent job of scanning products with prices and info.

                                                                                  2. re: DGresh

                                                                                    Our scanners are fixed units just like the ones the regular checkout lanes with cashiers use. The only difference is that there is a weight sensitive bagging area and no other place to put anything. So if you scan an item such as a can of crab, the computer will expect 6 ounces or whatever a can of crab may be to then be placed in the bagging area. You can't put it back into the cart at that point. It is definitely not a perfect system but as HillJ said there is an attendant and they are watching people like a hawk.

                                                                                    1. re: DGresh

                                                                                      Ours (at two different chains) will catch you if you haven't scanned something....but I haven't figured out how yet.

                                                                                  3. I read a study a while back that said the best option was the number of people in line rather than the amount of groceries being purchased. My experience has proven that true. However, there are a number of variables that come into play. For example, at the markets where I regularly shop, I know who the slower checkers are and avoid them if there is any kind of line.

                                                                                    I remember a young woman checker at a TJ's I frequented who had the incredibly annoying habit of looking at each, individual item each customer purchased before she scanned it. Drove me nuts being in her line. She didn't last long. Some people are just not made for that line of work.