Monday, January 16, 2012

Line-ups and that silly silly grocery store divider

Okay, I wrote this draft after a long day with kids and parties, so forgive me if I sound a little like Mitch Hedberg getting through his notes.

Okay, so I think this had something to do about a rant and me getting in line, but being able to pick the appropriate line.

I remember being in a workshop where they talked about the different "colour personalities", and one of them; the greens; had algorithms to do everything.  I totally get that.  So was it when I went to the grocery store late after the party and had to choose which to get into.  I had 2 choices:

  • long line with only a few items each
  • short line but with lots of items (but several multiples)

Which would you pick?  Really, I'll let that settle in.

What'd you pick?

For me it comes down to a gut reaction -- whether I'm really calculating or not, I do some estimation etc... and say "well, the multiple items will speed up that overall transaction..."  I'll get all geeky for a bit... the equation would look something like:

T = S + t*i

something like Time = Startup time + time per item * # of items.
[reminds me of that book I have:  Geek Logic]

Each person, a new transaction, would carry an initial startup/setup time.  Clearing the register, "do you need bags", processing payment, etc...  Then it's a matter of how long it takes to scan an item multiplied by how many items they have.  For multiple items it can almost be assumed it's like one item.

So, where the time for all people to be processed ahead of me, in the longer line up, but less items, so long as the startup time per person is small, it's best to go there, but when it's big... it may be the same as the short line of LOTS OF items.

Seriously, Rich has to go and do some equations/statistics for me.  I can't be the only one who's thought of this.

Well, it all goes for a crap when the person throws the cp variable into the mix.  The unaccountable 'crazy person' variable, who'll ask a ton of questions from the cashier, and not know how to use their VISA etc...  then it messes with your math.  You can't judge that (hmm... maybe a probably of cp... but that'd require understanding of the cp coefficient of the general populace ... anyhow).

Just so you know, in the end, I still beat out the long line up of lesser items.  So, yay me!

My final thought about being in the grocery store had to deal with that divider you put down.  Surprising how hard it is to google an image of one.  But here ya go.

Who decides to put the 'divider' in at the grocery check out?  This is a social quandry.  I mean, who's obligation is it to put that thing down, especially when there's a limited number of them (sometimes there's only one).

Is it my job to put it down behind me?  Is it insulting to the person behind me that "I don't want to be seen as buying your stuff.."

What about me putting it in front of my stuff to the person ahead of me?  "Hey, make sure I get my own stuff, I don't want him stealing it into his order ... "

For the past few times that I've had the opportunity, I just wait.  I leave some space, a clear understanding of "this is my buffer of null space between their order and mind" and see what happens.

Eventually somebody gets uncomfortable without the divider and puts it in.  It's interesting to see who cracks first.  The person ahead of me, or the person behind.

I think I'm just weird.

What's your take?

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