Double Trouble

You know how when you’re in the grocery store wishing with every ounce of your being that they would open up another register?  You can barely see the top of your cashier’s head because there are so many other heads between yours and hers.  And when you look back behind you, all you see are angry, jittery shoppers, just like you, who are helping push your invisible wish along in the hopes that somebody, anybody, would just open another register. 

Ice cream melts, frozen dinners thaw, and the worry about spoiling milk and meat is pervasive.

And then it happens.  A register opens.  And does the next person then, the one who’s been waiting the absolute longest of anybody there, get to go and be first?  Nope.

It’s the guy who just showed up at the back of the very long line, way behind you, whose time in line can be counted in seconds with the use of only one hand.  HE’S next.

Whatever happened to single file?  We did it when we were kids.  I distinctly remember my teacher saying it, repeatedly, every time we lined up for something. 

Yet twice in the last month I’ve paid for somebody else’s biggie meal because of a double lane drive-thru mishap. 

The oldest granddaughter and I had gone shopping.  On the way home, she asked for an ice cream cone.  Thinking I could just run through the drive-thru quickly, that’s where I headed.  And that’s all I ordered.

It was a double drive-thru lane.  And, typically, the dude in the parallel lane was in a hurry and jumped line.  When I got to the cashier and handed him my card, he punched a few buttons, handed me my card and a receipt, and closed his window.

I noticed that I had paid for two biggie meals, fries, drinks, and milkshakes.  The single kid’s cone for the grand baby in the backseat had just cost me upwards of fifteen dollars.

Waving at the cashier while still in my car did no good.  His back was turned.  The guy in front of me saw me waving madly and just grinned into his rear view mirror.  He knew what had happened.  He had paid for the ice cream, and gladly so.  And then I saw the lady hand him the ice-cream cone meant for my granddaughter. 

And then I witnessed Mr. Rudy Pants refuse and act like she’d made the mistake.

The store made it right with me, but the dude in front of me had just absconded, intentionally, with a butt-load of relatively free food.

I blame the double line.

It happened again this morning.  While taking my youngest daughter to work, she asked to swing by a drive-thru on the way.  So we did. 

It was a double lane.

I don’t know how many people in line they were ‘off’ or how many got the wrong paper baggie of food before they realized it, but we promptly handed our wrong order back to the clerk.  And then blamed the double line.

Out loud. 

We then held our spot in line until the problem had been rectified and I had been given the correct change for what we’d actually ordered.

Will I avoid double lane drive-thru places in the future?  Sure.  But on those occasions when I can’t, you can bet I’ll be hyper-sensitive to what they’re charging me.  I’ll also be closely inspecting the contents of my paper baggie.

I will also make a concerted effort to shop only in places where there exists a single file line.  The person who’s waited the longest should always be accommodated next. 


Department stores are already doing that.  They’re setting it up so that there is just one rapidly moving single file line up to a string of multiple cashiers.  When a cashier opens up, he or she calls appropriately for the next person in line.

This is not so with most grocery stores and my frustration mounts with every visit. 

But at least at the grocery store I can count on only being charged for my items and not the guy’s in front of me.  And what I take home with me is exactly what I put in my shopping cart.  All inventory errors before, during, and after my check-out experience are solely mine to bear.

Just try talking to a store manager, though, about the follies of a double lane drive thru and all you get is a runaround about how Corporate says this is more efficient. 

I like how the manager’s nose wrinkles just a bit when he says it, as though the very idea that he is supposed to believe this crap is about to make him choke on his own words.




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