#3 – The quickest supermarket queue is always behind the fullest trolley (greetings, packing, and paying take longer than you think).

Now who figured this one, I want to know. I bet if you asked people is it better to get in Line #1, behind four people each with a few objects, versus Line #2 with its one person with a cart full as Fafner’s hoard, it would be unanimous to do Line #1. Apparently someone has done a study to suggest tip #3, what feels counterintuitive. I want to know if other factors were included, like the type of person in front of you and who is the cashier. I’ve learned to abjure the line at Uncle Albertsons that has “Joe” in it, as he stops to chat and listen to everybody, including asking to see photos of any new grandchildren.

Figuring out which line to enter is irrelevant for me, who was cursed at an early age by a wicked fairy that no matter what line I choose at check out it will grind to a screeching halt, while I stand and watch others whizzing through the other lines like hot iron through butter. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve chosen the line with only one person ahead of me, only to see this person rummage through her purse for her chequebook and slowly write out a cheque from an out-of-state bank that the cashier needs the manager to verify. Oh the pain. Another near-guaranteed Suez Canal stop to the system is the one person ahead of me in line puts down a large carrot-shaped vegetable that he/she insists is a tomato that the cashier has to explain no it is not and looks up to verify whether it is a parsnip or a rutabaga.

An alternative to this all is to use ‘self-check out’ but in my experience this goes even slower than thems in Line #2. The four at Uncle Albertsons invariably go wrong, telling the customer to wait for staff to assist with the bungle. These pauses adds up. Another alternative: use curbside pick up or home delivery, thus avoiding all lines including the one with Joe in it.

I have a suspicion trying to figure out which line will go faster has as much success as changing lanes back and forth in a traffic jam trying to find the faster lane. Best to bring a book with you, and read while you wait, rather than watching and silently judging the person ahead of you as they unload their cart with bad food choices.

I will wait in line for Denise regardless of the what’s in line in front of me. She’s my favorite cashier, for she is always sweet and I enjoy our phatic chatting. Saturday morning seems right when she’s the one doing our groceries. In a long line for her, I smile and wave back at Joe who is waving at me to tell me he’s open. He can attend to the ones paying for their parsnips with a Wisconsin bank cheque, all the while showing him photos on their cellphones.