Idiocy – March 13, 2021

No, no, no, it’s not, not really!

I work hard at being an idiot.  You understand my envy when I run across a natural, someone who pulls it off effortlessly.

Recently, when I pushed my modestly-filled cart to the checkout line, the line was humongous.  To the mega-everything “wholesale” retailer’s credit, they’d devised a single-thread queue which worked reasonably well.

An “Associate,” poor soul, stood at the front of the queue.  When one of five working registers opened, that is it had completed the previous engagement, he directed the shopper at the head of the queue to that open register.  This cleverly short-stopped frazzled shoppers entering one of five individual queues which would cause (pardon my pun-like word choice) wholesale queue disengaging/reengaging. 

Queue-swapping naturally occurs in multi-queue scenarios because shoppers judge which queue appears moving the quickest before joining at the tail of that queue.  Invariably (we’ve all been there) no matter which queue a ready-to-pay shopper has chosen, that queue suddenly dies.  The wrong-guessing shopper ultimately abandons the dead-queue (price-check, rejected credit card, that jug of milk is leaking, etc.) to select one of the remaining four, having to that point constantly monitored all other queues to determine the sagacity of their previous commitment.

As quickly as an alternate choice is made, the newly selected queue stalls, the one just left becomes a model of efficiency.  This affects not just one queue, one shopper, but all queues and all shoppers, sooner rather than later. Shoppers swap queues so furiously it rather looks like a some-ethnic-group fire drill. Confusion crescendos, carts bang, egg escaped from egg-cartons break, on-sale-today-only garden implements fall off platform carts, and ice cream and five-pound bags of frozen mixed berries thaw and leak onto the floor.  Civilized people become crazed monsters as tempers flare.

That day there were, incidentally, five more registers.  Idle.  “Oh, there is not enough staff to man them,” you offer.  Pungent-smelling bull-leavings!  Even from where I stood on this occurrence, I could see not less than four “Associates” standing with fingers up their, ah, er, noses, chatting amongst themselves.  Not business.  If business causes that much hilarity, we should all look to get jobs with that company.

I counted some forty shoppers in line ahead of me.  More, but beyond that the reality of it became heart-breaking.  The single queue was large enough it assumed a serpentine shape, folding on itself four times so it did not occupy more than half the store’s floorspace.

Last in line, I resigned myself to fate, happy I’d not needed anything frozen, best refrigerated, or so heavy it threatened to crush the axles of my cart.  The gentleman ahead of me, turned to face me as three new queue-ticipants lined-up behind me.

“Excuse me,” he said, “but would you hold my place in line for me?”

“Pardon?” Please try to imagine the incredulity in my voice.

“Hold my place in line.  I’ll be right back.”

I noticed the gent had no basket, no cart, no little flatcar, and nothing in his mitts.

“Where’s your cart?”

“Don’t have one yet.”


“Wanted to get a spot in line first.  You’ll hold my place?”

“Your place sir,” I turned to face the rear of the line, “will be behind the lady with the three screaming kids. If you hurry.”

“Won’t take a minute,” he pleaded.

That naturally should have convinced me. It didn’t. I am an inconsiderate sort. “Take all the time you want.  It’ll be easy to find your place.  It’ll be right behind the old geezer behind the lady with three screaming kids.”

The idiot gave me something less than an appreciative look and went off, I suppose to find a basket, cart, or little flatcar.

I work hard at being an idiot.  Fortunately, there are experts out there.  Mentors.  There are lessons to be learned.

Published by spwilcen

Retired career IT software engineer, or as we were called in the old days, programmer, it's time to empty my file cabinet of all the "creative" writing accumulated over the years - toss most of it, salvage and publish what is worthwhile.

13 thoughts on “Idiocy – March 13, 2021

  1. Nice! I assume you own a copy of Idiocracy? My favorite scene, “Oh no, an Unscanable!” My fav scene in comedy history. Here’s my addition to the idiocracy, b/c I’m a natural worthy of emulation—Why do folks believe we are on a spinning rock hurling through space faster than the speed of light?

    1. (Own a copy?) Nope. Seen it? Yup, at the suggestion of my barber, Mr. T, brother to a singing sister and prize-fighting brother of no small acclaim. Didn’t much care for the flick. Your contrib: noted. Question: ‘faster than the speed of light?’ Really? Mr T moved to Oregon pre democrat-anarchist lunacy. I miss him. Thanks for looking in on (here) a dreary Satardie.

      1. YW, glad to have a few minutes to spare. Maybe it was the speed of sound? That idiocracy thing, again. The film is a classic imo, and classics are often good b/c where they fail is obvious to everyone, and where they mirror our world makes us see our own absurdity as hilarious over tragic. Glad to see you’re still tickling those keys.

      2. Never left. Thanks for stepping on my chain. For sheer lunacy I’ve no real need for movies or television or yewboob, all that’s necessary is a quick glace out my window, or across the street, or in and about town. Amusing but worrisome – this is who we are? Me, too?

  2. Now that’s a new one for me! I know all about queuing in Florida stores and I always end up in the slowest queue, no doubt? But that gent that came to get a place first! Incredible! Here in Europe we do not queue. We arrive and ask “who’s last?” and then we know we go after him or her, and in the meantime we can sip our cappuccino…have a great Sunday my friend!

    1. Sometimes these clowns work tag teams. And they feel no one minds or no one should mind. Not far removed from rioters, in an odd sort of way. Thanks for dropping by.

  3. A great queue jumping story. We’ve all been there. That queue that sparks a general discussion among cashiers about the price of an un-ticketed item, thereby resulting in every queue grinding to a halt! Made me laugh. Thanks!

    1. Glad it struck a chord. I’ve gone off on this before. Every time I think I’ve seen it all I am rudely treated to something new. Often think chickens have more sense. Thanks for the brief chat. Happy Sunday afternoon.

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