#471 – Queue

There really is a skill in choosing the fastest checkout line to stand in. It’s not necessarily the shortest one. You have to take into account how much is in other people’s baskets, the speed of the cashier, whether or not a bagger is going to be involved… Nowadays I mostly go to places that let me check out my own purchases. It seems there are still a lot of people afraid of the self checkout machines. Bonus for me.


0 thoughts on “#471 – Queue”

  1. PsychoDuck says:

    Ah, so time travel week it is! Or maybe it’s grocery week… Whatever.

    I seem to have a thing for choosing the right line when it comes to checking out. I hate it when they don’t have enough cashiers available, though. I went to buy some stuff at my local pharmacy today, and there was only one cash open. Okay, I thought, There’s only one person in front of me. No big.

    But then someone got in line behind me. And another stood behind him. And then another came in. I’m glad they opened another cash, or else there may have been a pharmacy riot!

    Because pharmacy riots happen all the time…

    The Duck Has Spoken.

  2. Seraphine says:

    I hate when i’m the last one in line.

  3. Riy says:

    Pharmacy riots DO happen all ze time though, this coming from someone who works at one. Happens at least two times a day, five being normal~ fun, fun

    I love self-checkouts because I can actually ring myself faster than the cashiers can. The setup is better than the one they get at least and since they removed that thing where the machine insists you haven’t bagged something that is bagged and in the cart already it goes by without any hitch

  4. SEA says:

    And that’s why i don’t really enjoy shopping for grocery, you always think you line is the slowest ^_^’

  5. Jesso says:

    I love the self-checkouts. It makes me sad that the grocery store nearest to my new apartment doesn’t have any self checkout lanes. They do seem to have lots of disgruntled teenager cashiers, though.

  6. stonehydra says:

    this is only a problim if your behind yourself.

  7. LazerWulf says:

    I used to work at a grocery store that used self-checkout. I’d buy a soda or something on my break and use one of them almost every day. Eventually I started using them in Spanish Mode, because I was bored. I knew where all the buttons were, even though I don’t know a lick of Spanish, so it was kinda fun. Plus, automated Spanish sounds funny.

  8. Murudai says:

    Is Biff willing to share his line-beating time-travel technology?

    I hate getting in the shortest line that I can see only to find that I’m behind someone with ~150 cans of dog food (true story) and I have to wait for ages as they are all checked and packed…

  9. Arix says:

    I work as a checkout chick, and my line’s always the fastest. During busy periods people will join other lines just because mine’s the longest. Then they’ll see why mine’s the longest – everyone joins it cause I’m the fastest there ^.=.^

    Go me.

  10. Gobbledegook says:

    My first job was as a bagboy for a grocery store. There were more cashiers than bagboys, so the cashiers used to fight over us because we made the line go much, much faster.
    The cashiers learned to be very nice to us very quickly.

  11. Mari says:

    I tried using a self-checkout a few times. It’s not faster for me. I do this creepily old-fashioned thing called paying with cash. So the theory at the self-checkout is that if you pay with cash you have to wait for that one person who’s supposed to monitor the self-checkout area for problems and take payments that aren’t credit/debit to show up. Except that person always seems to be on vacation when I go so I stand around indefinitely waiting for somebody to turn up and take my darn money.

    Also that fixing of the part where the self-checkout machine insists that I haven’t bagged things that I have doesn’t seem to have filtered to the backwater hole that is where I live.

  12. pieman says:

    one problem with biffs reasoning: even if he goes in the fastest queue, that one would actually be the slowest, just because he’s in it. natural queuing physics, you should know that by now.

    they should put signs above the checkout to say how long the queue’s going to take, taking all those things into account, and whether any products that anyones buying doesn’t have a pricetag, and how much change is going to be needed, and how fast the conveyor belt thingy goes, and how long the reciept is going to be, and how many times the cashier needs to scan a product before it actually reads, and now i think i’m going a bit too far, and thats about it really, and now i’m going to shut up.

    oodles of toodles!

  13. Plankster says:

    I always use the self-checkout. The less I interact with the common peasant, the better.

  14. Trip Hazard says:

    I’m a cynical, grumpy old curmudgeon. I use self-check whenever I can, because the less I interact with others, the better for us BOTH!

  15. MaskedMan says:

    Nature abhors a fast queue. Witness Arix, or Mari… One gets extra bodies in line to equalize things, the other has cash-machine troubnles to offset the self-checkout. So, beating the line is an act of fooling Mother Nature, and we all know it’s not nice to fool Mother Nature..! Maybe that’s why Biff has so many problems with expiring milk – Mother Nature is getting a little payback!

    That all said, I’ve practiced Linemanship a long, long time, and my Line-Fu is strong. Any long-service military person understands how to make lines work well, and a career as an NCO has given me the ability to motivate more efficient performance simply by quirking an eyebrow. 😀

  16. Batdan says:

    Working in a supermarket has taught me a few things. The main one being that if I want to avoid lines, the best time to shop is Sunday morning before 11:00 AM. The stores are usually almost empty and the lines are really short. That’s when i get my weekly grocery shopping done. And if I need something any other day I’ll head to the grocery store after 9:00 PM and avoid the evening after work rush.

  17. Dr-Pie says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a self checkout machine.

    Either they just don’t have them in Britain/Wales, or just not at the ones I go to.

  18. Arctic_fox says:

    lol i work as a bagger so i always know which lane to goto also you need to take into account the speed of the bagger some of us can be on a slow checkers lane but they still be faster then the lane with a fast checker and a slow bagger bacuse the grocerys are geting bagged faster then they would normaly so the checker dose’nt haveto stop and help or just stand there :-p and if there arent enough checkers its usualy cuse we cant aford em lol

  19. Lisa says:

    I don’t mind dealing with the common peasant, it’s the entitlement bitches that I hate.

  20. Josh says:

    Another thing that makes the line go slower is people who take their time writing each number and letter on a check. I got fired, not because I was slow or mean (quite the opposite, I was one of the fastest and nicest), but because I seemed to always get the person who only took out their checkbook (which takes about an hour) after I’ve rung everything up. That’s why I hate checks. They’re becoming more and more obsolete these days.

  21. Chivalrybean says:

    When going to restraunts I have a genetic ability to beat the rush. When my whole family would go to Taco Bell friday evening we would always beat the sports team school busses.

    A few days ago we were at the local market and there was a lady in front of us with just a few things, then an elderly woman with $4.07 worth of food. The first thing I noticed was the cashier explaining that a pin number was 4 digits. The number of unsuccessful attempts had almost reached the point where I was going to buy her food when she got it right. Yay!

    This is sage wisdom: Never use the fast check out lanes. Only people with credit card problems (yay for paying with cash, Mari), fumbly fingers, a lack of understand of the local dialect, and turtles who have manage to mask themselves as humans use those lines, and of course, the rest of us who could have otherwise been through the line it 17 seconds.

  22. Nezume says:

    I just read every comic! Yes everyone! They are really funny!

  23. FWTrump says:

    I am always the person who already has all this money out in hand by the time I am one person away from being next, along with all necessary ID and discount cards. I laugh at how wrong those credit card commercials have it with that extremely fast moving line that suddenly stops because the person is trying to pay with cash or a check. Checks are slow, but cards are just as slow, if not slower with technical difficulties.

  24. McMustard says:

    Choosing a checkout line is indeed an art form. I feel like I do a good job of choosing the right lines, but it also seems I often get a cashier shift swap right as things seem to be going well.

    Self checkout lanes are great, particularly in the late hours. During busy times, there are such problems as inadvertent cutting (the line has a gap to allow passers-through, and newcomers to the line fail to see this), the self-checkout newbie, and the worst of all: the person who has a basket full of produce without scan code stickers already applied. That latter case also happens if the produce section doesn’t have sticker printers.

  25. Kitty says:

    I always have my money out beforehand, too. Sometimes I’ll even do the math in my head to figure out tax and have the correct change ahead of time. 🙂

    As for self-check-outs, I love them. Except for the fact that the one near me requires you to scroll through ALL the produce to find what you want before you weigh it. Such a pain.

    I first self-check-out was at the library. My brother and I would fight over who got to check out the books. 😀

  26. Kitty says:

    *My first self-check-out

  27. Reynard says:

    I must be in the minority here because I won’t use self-check-out to save my life. Here’s why: I live in a large city and jobs are scarce enough as it is. Check-out/bagging (the two are often combined where I live) is one of the few entry-level jobs left for high-schoolers in the area. For every self-check-out that a store installs, that’s one less job that someone can put on their resumé. It basically means more unemployment for kids who need to be able to show that they *can* work.

  28. tpiro says:

    I’m enjoying all these time travel themed comics. Keep them coming!

  29. Andrew the Pair says:

    I usually love self-check-outs. Except for the one at the WalMart near where I live. I hate Walmart to begin with, but this one is especially terrible. During the evening rush on a Friday they had only 4 out of 12 self-check machines working. But to make it even worse the machines took at least a minute to scan each item.
    The process went something like this;
    Run item across scanner in 8 or 9 different directions until it finally registers. Place in bag too soon and get ‘unexpected item in bag’ alert. Take item out. Place thumb on screen to acknowledge ‘item removed from bag’ alert. Wait. Wait. Wait. Machine registers your thumb, which is now pressing against the screen hard enough to bend said screen. Wipe bloody tears of rage from eyes. Scan next item. Wait 7.18 seconds. Place item in bag. Wait 10 seconds. Machine is now ready for next item. Continue…..

    So yeah, I’m a fan of MOST self-check-outs 😉

    In other news; at my last military assignment before getting out; the local Commissary (grocery store) had an awesome checkout process. It was one long line leading to the checkouts. At the front of the line was a lady directing traffic with a electronic display above her that guided people to the shortest lines. No matter how long the line or time of day you could be in and out in less than a half hour total.

  30. ¡el pingüino bilingüe¿ says:


    Dont forget the kids who beg for candy.
    ¡Esos niños maltidos!

  31. Karen says:

    I despise the self-checkout. I worked as a cashier through high school to pay for all my fun and save for university — now I see self-checkouts everywhere, and I know that they’re taking those jobs away from the high school kids who need them, forcing everyone to compete for crappy McDonalds jobs.

  32. Karen says:

    Also, self-checkouts aren’t any faster. They’re just cheaper for the company. If they didn’t have the self-checkouts, and instead had an extra 2 or 3 cashiers and another bag boy working, there wouldn’t be line problems AND there would be jobs for high school kids and other people who need them.

  33. Kitsunie says:

    😡 Nowhere in my city seems to have self-checkouts, in my experience. I’ve only ever seen them on my occasional visits to the US. Perhaps we’re just behind the times. XD

  34. DEC says:

    at one of the local grocery stores they use a queuing system, press a button get a slip of paper, wait till your number turns up above a checkout counter and go to it, at least i like the system as you can get that extra little thing you forgot without loosing your place in the queue.

  35. Anton T says:

    aaagh…i know what you’re talking about.
    My mom always manages to take -the- one line that either has someone about to drop coins,his bag,be out of money,hard-hearing or the usual slow newbie cashier that scans an item 3 times and spends 10 min removing them off the check…

    I just have the habit of going off myself in a different queue before she says something (im the one with the caddie anyway)

  36. MOD says:

    ooooh i love the self-service checkouts 😀

    i’m probably the only one in my town who uses them….im the one who keeps those things running single handedly, lol

    i just find them so much easier and quicker (until you’ve checked out all your items, then realised you dont have enough cash, so you have to cancel items (which is IRRITATING and AWKWARD!))
    on a lighter note: im back and alive, sorry for not posting for ages but i’ve ben stuck in a half year long gaming session lol, or at least it felt like it. imoff to go sleep now 🙂

  37. Deteramot says:

    It’s Time Travel week, obviously.

  38. Deteramot says:

    So, apparently time has managed to bend around me, for I have posted already, in June. Go me. In any case, where I live the self checkout lines have people who watch over them, just in case the machines stop working. I live in Hickville, USA, so people manage to figure out just enough about the machines to break them, but not enough to get them un-broken. Also, it appears that everyone who shops at the Safeway near us is a techno-phobe, and therefor never uses the self checkout machines. I think there has been a line twice, maybe four times.

  39. Trae says:

    I got a great card for my birthday that works here.

    So, anyway, I’m standing in line to buy you a freakin’ birthday card and the line is like seventeen billion people long ’cause the only thing the dumb teenage boy at the register is thinking about is the dumb teenage girl at the other register, and some dumb lady is turning her purse inside out to come up with “exact change,” like she’s gonna win some kind of “exact change trophy” or something, and some idiot starts up with “This item was marked with the sale price” crap, and I just really hope you like this card…
    …’Cause I stole it. Happy birthday.

  40. Cari says:

    There isn’t that much of a trick. Whichever one I’m in is the slowest.

  41. wisp says:

    the duck speaks the truth! nothing is worse than walking into a store that has 40000 registers but only enough people to run THREE of them….

  42. 3.14 says:

    I like self-checkout when I’m only getting one item, but this fails when all the self-checkout machines are closed at 11 pm.

  43. Istas says:

    I also don’t like the self-checkout lines, mainly for reasons I believe were already posted, by Reynard and Karen for the one, that it takes jobs away from the local economy, and I also don’t like the way it’s a continuation of the reduction of services to make even more money off consumers. Next you know, they’ll _all_ be self-check-outs, and after that you’ll be charged for them (like ATMs, which, despite saving banks money, some now charge upwards of $2 per transaction. Of course, we could get into “but they only charge for their own customers” aspect… so then, the grocery stores might only charge for non “club” members? Just give good prices on the food and don’t make people give out marketing information as a sacrifice for discounts, stores. Jeez.).

  44. ThunderBunny says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with Reynard, Karen, and Istas. I’ve actually put stuff back on the shelves and walked out without getting anything, when I saw there were no “human” cashiers. I started out as a cashier too, and those jobs will go the way of the wind, if we don’t all get in line behind “We the People” and vote with our feet to support them. These machines are actually one step in a long process to acclimate us toward the ultimate goal of throwing all your stuff in the cart and walking out the door without any intervention (spychips.com); but, I don’t want any part of Revelations 13, so I wait a few moments more and use cash.

  45. SurveySays says:

    Biff…has the ability to time travel…and he uses it on spagetti, milk, and check out lines.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *