Monday, April 21, 2008

What's Our Hurry?

I was in Target today, which was relatively uncrowded, buying a yoga block and some batteries and I noticed that the cashier started ringing up my order before the woman in front of me had gathered her bags and put her wallet back in her purse.
Then she did the same thing to me and I don't think she was trying to be rude, just efficient, but you can't help but feel a little bit foolish when you're trying to get yourself together to leave the area and you're obviously slow and the next transaction is taking place before you've really felt closure in your own.
And I've noticed this happening a lot more recently. Not just at Target but in a lot of stores.
And it makes me wonder- what's our hurry?
I just, well, I keep thinking about how, as computers were becoming prevalent in every aspect of life, that we were promised that they would speed things up. We could get more things done faster and thus have more leisure time.
What a lie that's turned out to be. Does using a debit card really make a purchase go faster than writing a check? Not much, if any. Pick your language. Spanish or English. Swipe your card. Put in your pen number. Press enter. Do you want cash back? Wait for the total. Is that amount correct? Yes or no. Waiting for Authorization.
And so forth.
How many times have I sat there with a stupid look on my face, waiting for my receipt, not realizing that there was yet one more question I needed to answer before the transaction was complete?
A bunch.
And all of the debit card machines are different and why is this?
I don't know. And I don't know why we're all so intolerant of the idea of having to spend more than six seconds waiting for the person in front of us to finish up paying for their groceries or their Pampers and then finding their keys and glasses and moving on.
I frequently offer the person behind me in a line the option to go ahead of me if they only have a few items and I have a lot. I rarely get turned down. And I do this because I hate feeling rushed by someone behind me.
So I get somewhere two minutes later. Big deal.
And so what if a person standing in line gets checked out twenty seconds faster than she would have if the cashier had waited until the person she'd just finished checking out managed to get herself together to leave the store before she started with the next person?
Is this going to make or break someone's day?
If so, we're obviously not managing our time very well.
It all seems a part of this crazy attitude we now have that OUR time, OUR day is the utmost, important thing in the entire world and that we all must rush, rush, RUSH to get to the next place.
It's weird.
And it makes me fear for the day (coming soon!) when I'm old and perhaps feeble and not as spry as I once was and people might have to wait for me an extra sixty seconds while I figure out just what sort of retina-reading device THIS grocery store has which is hooked up directly to my bank account and I'll hear all sorts of sighing and see all sorts of eye-rolling in the people behind me in line as I struggle.
Can't we be a little more patient? Can't we be civil in our one-on-one transactions?
We all seem to be hurrying through our days to get home and sit in front of the TV so we can relax and unwind from all the pressure.
I don't know.
Maybe I'm just old and cranky.
Or maybe I'm just wishing for a little more graciousness in this ever-increasing depersonalized life of ours.
So if you see me in line and I have a basket full of groceries and you're trying to get out quickly with your sandwich and drink, and the express line is full- just ask. I'll let you go ahead of me.
It's got to start somewhere.
Might as well start with me.


  1. I thought I was the only one who feels rushed at check out lines, and have wondered what other people do to get themselves out of the way faster. And today, while driving down a main drag, I let a car pull into my lane ahead of me, probably a first in Mexico, and I thought, "Maybe this IS a first, and I am starting a trend." Unlikely, but I pretended.

  2. When I worked at Target, we they scored us. Each transaction got coded green or red for if it was fast enough. You were supposed to have the person insert their card as early as possible too to speed the whole thing up.

    I think my best day there was my last one, but I had to put in many before that day came.

    I agree with you.

  3. They do this at my supermarket all the time, especially in the express lines, where there's usually a bagger to pack. I think it's really rude. Plus, I'm always worried about my groceries ending up in someone else's bag. There's no way to avoid it, even in the 'scan it yourself' line, there's a bagger packing things - not the way I want them packed - to speed things up.

  4. I couldn't help but notice there were no plant descriptions in there.....I'm going to back away slowly....

  5. WB- it's not ALL about the plants. Don't be afraid.
    Ms. Lo- I pull over and let people pass me on two-lane roads all the time. I hate being tail-gated and I refuse to drive that fast on country roads where dogs and children live.
    And Ms. Quiet- I have no doubt that stores "encourage" their employees to keep things moving but there's a line that gets crossed where people no longer feel comfortable or welcome and I think that line is fast being crossed.
    I'm glad you don't have to work at Target anymore.

  6. I can especially relate to the whole cash card/machine subject. By the time I get to the 'do you want cash back' feature, I am dripping in sweat from the work out my fingers are getting because of the array of questions with which I have been bombarded and the realization that people are staring at me because the quiz machine has taken so long.

  7. Quiz machine- I love that. That's what I'm going to think of it from now on.


Tell me, sweeties. Tell me what you think.