I don’t like grocery shopping. There I said it. I don’t like it at all. And it has nothing to do with the multiple cease and desist orders that the Nabisco corporation has filed against me. Which I don’t want to get into. OK fine, let’s just say they’ve grown tired of my enthusiasm for Nutter Butters and even though they claim to have no affiliation with the Keebler Company they refuse to let me know if they have any information as to whether or not Keebler elves really do exist. Pretty sure they do.No, I mostly don’t like grocery shopping because I pretty much find doing anything else more fun and exciting. So as you can imagine I try to get in and out as fast as possible and as we all know, check-out line selection is key to getting out of the store in a hurry. And what are the prime lane selections? The 12 items or less lanes of course.
Thus the 12 items or less lanes are the most desirable yet the most exclusive of lanes. You must have 12 items or less. But what’s the expectation of how strict we should be with this “12 items or less” designation?
For example, by doing some creative counting and going with a very vague yet correct definition of “items”, I’ve gone through one of these 12 items or less lanes with what some people may see as 30 plus items. However I only saw 11.
Pat, what’s your take on the strictness of 12 items or less? Do you ever “take advantage”?
Pat: Well, before I start on this one, let me throw a question your way. If you buy twelve beers, does that count as one item or twelve? Does it matter if they’re all sealed in a box?
By the way, the person at the grocery store seemed to think it did.
Christian: You beat me to my next point. Yes that is what I consider part of my “creative” counting. If you buy a 24 pack of beer in a box you would expect that to count as one item right? Definitely not 24. And I would also say the same holds true for a 6 pack of beer. You have (1) six pack of beer.
Now let’s say I have three separate bottles of beer. We all know that the important thing with rules is that the rules stay consistent. So along the same lines I have (1) set of three bottles of beer. Thus one item. Same goes when I’m buying six Butterfinger candy bars. Those six Butterfingers are one item in my book. One delicious peanut-buttery item.
Are you telling me you’ve had checkers that disagree with this logic?
Pat: I haven’t played checkers in a long time. Do you often play that in the grocery store? Where, might I ask? Oh! Probably the feminine products aisle. There’s always lots of room there, ‘cause it’s only got women and creepers.
As a former grocery store employee I just wanted to mess with you, as we far preferred the moniker, “Checkout Aisle Attendant”. Keep that in mind the next time you call the person in lane 4 a “checker”!
And yes, I have had such people make a stink. But they only do that if you’re a stinker and they don’t like you. Otherwise, do you really think they care? Is THEIR day getting delayed because you have more than the allotted items? Play it cool and you could probably get through those lanes with, like, FIFTY items!
Christian: They don’t care? Are you sure? I would assume the checkers...uh I mean the Checkout Aisle Attendants that are manning the regular checkout aisles wouldn’t care. Especially those poor saps that are manning the Family Friendly aisles. Those people seem like they’re gonna snap at any moment.
But I always assumed that the stores put their top notch most dedicated checkout aisle attendants in the 12 items or less lanes since these are the lanes specifically designed for speed and efficiency. Basically the Navy Seals of Checkout Aisle Attendants.
I don’t have any science to back this theory up nor do I know anything about the training these checkers go through but I imagine the 12 items or less checkers go through some kind of military grade training. With that kind of dedication I would assume they would care if you grossly violated the 12 items or less rule. And that they might physically or at least emotionally harm you if you did.
Have you been emotionally harmed? Why didn’t they like you?
Pat: Hmm...you’ve got me thinking on this one. I never thought about the idea that only the best employees would be granted access to the quicker checkout aisles. I always kinda’ assumed those aisles were for the...slower employees. Y’know, the kind who can’t really deal with more than 10, 12 or 15 things at one time. They also can’t do that pat-your-head and rub-your-tummy thing. And if that’s the case, do you think they’re really going to be counting your items? Accurately?
Here’s a thought. What’s the one family of grocery items that makes appearances least often in the quick checkout lanes?
Pat: I’d be willing to bet it’s produce. And you know why? ‘Cause all that produce gets rung up with CODES (psst! It’s CODES that run the world, man!). Attendants have to remember all of the individual codes for every piece of produce that comes through their lane. Think the store manager is going to entrust that task to someone who can barely handle more than 12 things at once? I don’t think so. Myth busted!
Christian: I hadn’t thought about that. Maybe you’re right. Maybe grocery stores do put their idiots at the 12 items or less lanes. That would explain how I got through that lane last night with buying 4 boxes of cereal, 2 packs of salami, beef stick, 3 Butterfingers, 3 boxes of Triscuits, a deli sandwich, beef stick, milk, beef stick, 17 cans of beer and 5 bottles of wine, which of course was just 2 items: food and alcohol.