I’m sure everyone has come across the following scenario in a store: two cash registers, no barrier to divide the line. It’s anarchy! Two possible scenarios unfold:
1. One line is created (see Fig. 1)
2. Two lines are created (see Fig. 2)
Scenario 1 is the best possible solution. People are served in the order that they arrived in line. It’s fair, and there’s no room for error.
Scenario 2 is a mind-fuck. The way I see it (correctly), if two lines are formed, then you pick a line and you stick with it–even if you have to wait longer than people who arrive in the other line later than you. If you were in a grocery store, you couldn’t just hop from your checkout line to the front of another checkout line because you picked the slower line. You suck it up. It’s the big leagues. There’s no crying in baseball. And other sporty sayings.
Since in many small retail stores there is no barrier to divide two separate lines for the registers, it’s up to the customers to create the play. If the first person to get in line decides to choose a side, then the next person needs to either choose the other side, creating scenario 2, or line up behind the first person, creating scenario 1 (and if you see two people lined up in one line, and then create your own new line, you are a moron, and you’re outta here!). If you’re the first person in line and want to force scenario 1 to play out (your best odds of getting served next), then you need to stand in the center and not choose a side. If you choose a side, then the next person in line has the power to decide the play. If two separate lines are formed, that’s it. Sides have been made and you stick with it.
Recently, I was at La Senza picking up something super sexy (ok. Who am I kidding? It was control-top biker short-like underwear to prevent my thighs from chaffing when walking in a dress) and the two cash registers were occupied. There was one other person in line and she was standing directly across from one register. I had the power. So I lined up across from the other register. I created scenario 2. It’s a bold move. I can potentially get to the end zone faster, but also run the risk of being stuck in place as the other line advances.
As we waited it became obvious that my register was going to be free sooner. Out of the corner of my eye I could see the head of the woman lined up next to me darting back and forth between the registers. She was sighing and fidgeting and knew she had made a mistake. A classic unforced error. Then, I could feel her slowly inching her way closer to me. I’m thinking, “No. There’s no way you’re going to so obviously cheat and cut in front of me.” Sure enough, as my register became free and I went to step forward, the bitch swooped in and cut me off! Ref, where’s the whistle?! A flag on the field?! And other sporty calls?! I’m pretty sure the slow-motion replay would reveal that she stuck her tongue out at me too. Unsportsmanlike conduct.
The cashier looked at me apologetically and proceeded to help the woman. I stood in shock. The other register was now free and with no one else in line, I crossed over (that’s legal). This cashier, having seen what had just happened, apologized for the wait. Since I’m passive aggressive, I said, loud enough for the washed-up cheater to hear, “That’s fine! I understand how lines work!” Oh snap.
Don’t hate the game, hate the players. Most of them are idiots.