Posted in Life

Long, long lines

The lines were long at Home Depot. Lots of sales? Lots of people thinking “home improvement?” Lots of busy contractors?

Nope. No one to work the registers.

My Home Depot has six self-checkout registers. Three weren’t working. Station closed. The ten-person line snaked through aisles filled with displays of tools, batteries, plants, and eye protection. Every once in a while, a shopper who didn’t see the line walked right up to a checkout station. Sometimes an irritable person would point out, “The line starts over there!” But not always.

One employee watched over the self-checkout registers. So when an item didn’t scan correctly, or someone was buying a controlled substance like spray paint, the checkout process came to a halt until that one person noticed and came over to punch in their number. Self-checkout lanes are popular with shoppers who don’t seem to have ever used a self-checkout lane, so they wonder, “Now what do I do?” There are so many decisions. Like, do I want the extended service plan for a hammer? Do I need an emailed receipt? Which credit card do I want to use? If it’s a couple, they argue about what to do next.

Two checkout registers were staffed by live employees. One was for contractors only. No line there. That person was very good at getting the pros out the door. The other was operated by someone who must have been pretty new to the job. They summoned a manager for just about every purchase. That line of ten people moved very slowly.

So, while it was easy to find what I wanted, it was hard to find a human or machine that worked. I only had a can of paint. Others maneuvered carts full of long wood, small appliances, rolls of carpet, and sacks of sand through lines at the key-making kiosk, paint counter, and customer service desk. Either way, we were going to be there for a while.

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