Experimenting at the Grocery Store

Here’s something I just don’t get; perhaps oothers have noticed it too. Try it sometime, just for fun.

When in line at the grocery checkout, place your items about 12-18″ behind those of the person in front of you. Make sure to leave a nice wide swath of totally black conveyor belt visible. Choose to ignore the handy separator bar-thingie, just for a bit. Put your hands on the belt, or near it, and right by your food items, to make it obvious to both the cashier and the customer in front of you that you aren’t trying to get away with anything.

Wait a bit. Then watch in wonder as the customer in front of you invariably makes a special effort to walk back to where you are, and grabs the separator bar-thingie, and defiantly places it before your items. Often wearing an annoyed look that you have not done this alread: jerk!

OK, customer, question for you. Is there really a big risk of my items getting added onto your bill? Are the cashier, and you, and me ALL going to fail to notice that full foot of empty conveyor belt rolling up to the scanner, and what it probably means? Do you think this is the cashier’s first day? Or is this just something that threatens your sense of personal space?

I do this occasionally just to see what happens, but also because it seems a reasonable way — to me anyway — to manage the whole Grocery Checkout Line Division of Goods scenario. But it nearly always manages to force the customer in front of me to jam that separator in between.

And then sometimes, when I’M the one in front, I let folks behind me make up their own mind on whether they need the separator or not. And of course, they nearly always do.

So maybe, possibly, it’s just me. Maybe, possibly, I’m the oddball here. But either way it’s fun to watch.

1 comment
  1. Anonymous said:

    I can’t STAND the separator and never use it.

    I’ve always placed my groceries one or two feet behind the next person in line just like we did in the old days. I think that by using the separator, you’re telling the person in front or in back of you “I don’t want people to think I’m buying THAT, and need to make it abundantly clear by shoving a piece of plastic between our items.”

    To use the separator is insulting to the cashier (they ARE smart enough to figure out what belongs to whom) and the others around you in line.