Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I think America's workforce needs a lesson or two in productivity. Granted, I'm not an industrial engineer by any stretch, but I've been noticing some rather odd efficiency practices as of late. 

Ok, take for instance the cashiers at Harris Teeter....

I'm used to rolling my cart up to the cashier, having the cashier take the milk from said cart, dragging it over the scanner and then sending it down the conveyor belt to be bagged. Works beautifully. Has for years. If there is a bagger there, the items are bagged, if there is no bagger available - I am happy to do my own bagging. Always do.

But lately I've encountered some rather odd check out practices. Some cashiers think it's better to scan and then immediately bag, thus avoiding the conveyor belt altogether. In other words, after sliding the milk over the scanner, they place it directly into a bag. Hmm. This works if there are only 5 or 6 items to ring up. But if the cart is full (and granted, mine usually is) it gets cumbersome when the bags start filling up and the cashier is not using all the space on the conveyor and thus a cluster of grocery bags is formed. And there is no place for you to move the bags because the cashier has your cart! Again, I don't pretend to be an industrial engineer, but I've been around a grocery store or two in my day and this is a flawed system. 

Now, as if that isn't bad enough, I've also experienced the rogue cashier who again, opts to bypass the conveyor belt, but instead of immediately bagging the item after scanning, this efficiency "guru" opts to return the item to the rear of the cart. Swear. It's beyond ridiculous. And then after everything is scanned and returned to the cart, the bagging process will commence. Seriously, what the? 

This totally sets you up for double ringage. The first time it happened I was caught off guard, not paying full attention and thought to myself, "What just happened here?" But the next time it happened, I inquired as to how the cashier was going to keep track of what she had and had not scanned. She looked at me like I had ten heads. Like I was the crazy one. Like this skill of hers was obviously lost on me. I so badly wanted to say, "Where, pray tell, is the efficiency in this process?" But I could tell by her glare that this particular cashier was not open to constructive criticism, so I backed off. 

But it's spreading. 

It kills me to take Target's name in vain, but my brand-spanking new Target has a flawed check-out system. You place your items on a conveyor belt that delivers the items to the cashier who then rolls the items over the scanner and immediately places the goods in a bag. So far, so good. But herein lies the problem...the bags are behind a wall and the customer cannot easily reach over the wall to load the bags in the cart. And the wall is too high for the cashier to lift the bags and place them in your cart. And the rack of empty bags takes up a lot of space behind said wall, so as a result, bags that are not chock full of items are inevitably left behind because they are hidden behind the rack of empty bags. In fact, the last time I was there, the cashier warned me to be sure to collect all of my bags. Um, hello, why is this my job? And more importantly how do you propose I pick up bags that I cannot possibly see? 

After checking out this afternoon I stopped by the Starbuck's (conveniently located by the Target exit doors). I placed my order and paid for the goods and before the barista started on my grande skim latte extra hot, she asked the next person in line what she wanted. Um, hello? How about getting that delicious latte going before taking the next order? At least get me that cup of water I asked for. And perhaps start steaming the skim milk. Efficiency. So now she has two orders, she has collected the money on both orders, there are no other baristas in sight and while she starts to step away to make the latte and chai tea, another customer approaches the counter. You guessed it - she comes back to the register and takes her order as well. What the? 

Luckily for me, no other customers approached the counter. But for some reason unbeknownst to me, this particular Starbuck's employee is convinced that she can make the latte, the chai tea and the iced mocha something-or-other at the same time instead of one at a time. Suffice it to say, the steamed milk (extra hot, mind you) exploded out of the tin pitcher, the chai tea was a Grande rather than the requested Venti, and the iced mocha something-or-other had vanilla added to it much to the customer's dismay. When the customer pointed out the vanilla issue, the barista responded, "Oh, that's right it was you who wanted the Skinny Vanilla Latte." and pointed to me. Um, no. I wanted the skim latte extra hot. And for the record - I ordered FIRST. AND I never got that cup of water that I asked for!

But I couldn't be mean to her because she was as sweet as the day is long; she just needed a lesson or two in efficiency. Good to know that if her particular Starbuck's is one of the 600 planned to close by March, she can easily get a job as a cashier at Harris Teeter. She certainly has the skill set. 


Stephanie said...

Haha, this was a funny post. Although, I know exactly what you mean. I work at a grocery store, and I assure you I don't do these silly things.

Anonymous said...

Here's what I do at checkout, after YEARS of experience: I look for a middle-aged or elder FEMALE checker, and no matter how long the line, I go to her. You know then, that she will bag properly. Plus, then you have a little time to catch up with your Hollywood gossip with a free magazine read on the checkout line.

Under no circumstances do I go to any man checker, because, they have never multitasked in their lives. No idea that the cold stuff has to all go together, in case, God forbid, you have to run more than one errand and are not going straight home. Also, what if you can't unload the groceries right away? Cold stuff, you have time for. But not all of it. But men don't get that. Do they???? Because their wives or mothers are alway home when it's time to unload. And they HELP OUT! And thank them for doing the shopping too. Do I sound bitter? Whoops, sorry.