Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Mind Your Peace in Queues

Or, “If the store is called Wi**ers, Then Why Do I Feel Like Such a Loser?”

Here’s my secret. I have a shoe addiction. I’m not something I’m proud of, but there you have it, out in the open. One of the cornerstones of this addiction’s success is that I find a retailer to supply me with my fix, and provide sufficient service so that I can get in, get the goods, and get the hell out. Time and again, I’m lured by Store X’s claim to have traveled the fashion capitals to provide the latest trends. I’m also thrilled by the candy store approach to stocking the shelves. Here’s your size, here’s our stock, try it on by yourself. All very “no-frills”.

What I fail to realize, every single time, is that this “no frills” philosophy extends to their complete absence of staff. Especially cashiers. So, rather than skulk in and hurry home with my new favorite playthings, I must stand in front of at least 7 unmanned cash registers and wait for that one harried, cranky “sales associate” to finish the _______ . Fill in the blank here with either a) price check, b) return or c) anything else the polar opposite to a swift and efficient business transaction. Why do these stores have a bank of cash registers if there are only two of them ever being used? As an amateur conspiracy theorist, I’m starting to believe it’s all a sham. That these cash registers come courtesy of the same manufacturer of Ikea “televisions” and “computers” – they’re just plastic hulls there to create the illusion of a successful (yet “no-frills”) enterprise. Really, darling, those “Fäls-Til” fake registers were all the rage in Sweden this year – I saw them on my latest trend-finding mission. Any self-respecting store should have 10 of them at the very least.

The dread waiting also occurs at the local arts and crafts supply emporium. They, too, must have buyers that have traveled to Sweden to see the Fäls-Til and decided to go with the corporate flow. They also never seem to have any more that 2 people out front – one who is dealing with a really cranky exchange, and the other who is ringing in a purchase which includes 1 piece of each of the 100 million items of stock they carry. Any artistic inspiration I may have had upon entering the store begins to hemorrhage out of me in direct and exponential proportion to the time I wait. Until I, too, am a empty hull of a person. No beads, no glitter glue, and no more patience.

Why do businesses seem so content on torturing us this way? Why do stores have all of these wonderments of technology made to make our lives easier if they just sit there gathering dust? I wonder if any one has every done a cost-efficiency study on the expense required by business to have more cashiers working versus the subsequent strain on the health care system by all us poor idiots who wait in line. High blood pressure, peptic ulcers, varicose veins, suicidal/murderous thoughts – these are all tangible outcomes. All we need to validate our case is a well-crafted proposal and a Canada Council grant. I beseech you – please do this NOW. I’ve been in line for approximately 3 days, 5 hours and 43 minutes, and I don’t know how much longer I can take it. But I really, really, really want these silver snakeskin pumps.

When I rule the world, I will guarantee that every staff member of every retail outlet will be trained to use a cash register. There will never be a lineup longer than 2 people, and all the tills will be in use during store hours. Hey – is that guy with the scrapbook paper about to get in line? Page Larry the janitor to the front - it’s go time.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

You are sooo right!!! The worst is any place like a grocery story or super____ (any discount place). 20 registers and 2 people working. The new trend that had me excited for a while was the evolution of self-checkout. Unfortunately, "self-checkout" is a misnomer. There's always some technical mishap that requires intervention. So much for a wait-free checkout. ...Babs Peapod

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