Monday, December 22, 2014


Yesterday I was doing some last minute shopping at Target. I am a frequent Target shopper. You might even consider me an expert Target shopper.  But all of that expertise means nothing during the holiday season. Once December rolls around, all bets are off.

When I was ready to check out, I approached the counter and picked a line with two people ahead of me. Then I noticed that there was another line right in front of us with only one person. She did not seem to have an unreasonable amount of stuff, so I went ahead and pulled my cart through to get into that line instead.

The woman was near the end of her transaction.  All that was left for the cashier to ring up were three pairs of blue jeans. The last pair of jeans did not have a tag on it. The cashier asked another employee to go and look up the price, but the other employee said she was certain that the jeans were $19.99. So the cashier typed in the code from another pair of jeans and used the $19.99 price.

That seemed to resolve the issue at first, but the woman was concerned about what would happen if she needed to return the jeans because the tags would not match up. This in turn, led to another discussion about how to go about returning the jeans. The woman made the cashier write a note on the receipt to explain what happened in the event that she needed to return the jeans. Finally, the woman moved on and it was my turn.

I often find myself in similar situations. I pick the wrong line at Target or the grocery store and I end up waiting. My ex-boyfriend was the same way. Whenever we would go to a store together he would remind me that he always chooses the wrong line. And often we would end up waiting for what seemed like forever to check out and pay for our items.

Today I was thinking about my experience at Target, and the many other times I have waited in line at other places. Maybe the line just seems longer because my mind is focused on the fact that I am waiting.

This is especially true when you switch lines. At that point, you have made a conscious commitment to the new line. And inevitably the first thing you do is start looking back to the other line you just left to see if the people in that line are going to finish ahead of you.

That process of comparing ourselves to others creates even more pressure by implying that there must be a winner and a loser. Or you can take it a step further, like my ex-boyfriend, and just assume you will be in the wrong line (i.e. the loser) before you even make a choice.

Contrary to popular belief, grocery store lines do not discriminate. The cashiers and other customers are not plotting against us. Sometimes you sail right through the line and sometimes you have to wait. It is a game of chance, like flipping a coin.

I find that the times I do seem to sail right through the line are the times that I am not even conscious of it.

What is interesting to me is that here I am 24 hours later and I can still recall almost every detail of another person's transaction at Target.  It makes me wonder why I would choose to let that information occupy my mind.

Which line you pick is not important. There is no right line or wrong line in life. What matters is your attitude and how you choose to pass the time while you wait.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I always pick the wrong line. But at the supermarket I just grab a magazine and wait! And, anyone at target 3 days before Christmas should just expect to wait. Grab a magazine!