The Boring Word About Standing In Line

February 12, 1986

I think I should wear a sign on my back when I go shopping. It would say “the line stops here.” It seems every time I enter a checkout line in the grocery store, discount store, or even the bank the entire forward movement of those in front of me comes to an abrupt halt.

There must be a million ways to stop the progress of a checkout line and over the years I think I have seen all of them. There is the unmarked item which requires a call to the back of the store and someone to find the price. Rarely is there anyone in that department or if there is do they know the price. Then there is the person who didn’t get their check approved, the credit card that can’t get the computer’s approval and the customer who doesn’t have the funds to pay the bill.

My children know that when I get in line they still have time to browse through all the records, select several magazines, visit with numerous friends and still get to the car and turn on the radio before I even make it to the cash register.

Even the new single lines in the banks come to a stop when I enter. I have seen computer failures, customers who suddenly decide to restructure their entire financial life and tellers who run out of quarters.

But I must admit that standing in line gives me a wonderful opportunity to meet my neighbors and to share many opinions with friends and perfect strangers. I have discussed the clothing likes and dislikes of children, the freshness of the vegetables, the weather, my health, the current state of local politics and of course the odds on getting out faster if we change lines. A helpful hint, if you are really in a hurry, is to take a child with you, put them in line as soon as you enter the store and maybe (just maybe) by the time you are ready to leave they may have gotten the cash register in sight. This does usually require a bribe, so you must weigh your time against the current going rate.

However, don’t use my kids, they seem to take after their mother.