I’m not known as an impatient person, but one Saturday a while back I was in a bit of a hurry. Stopping off at the local market for some ice cream for my wife’s birthday, I picked up two of what used to be half-gallon cartons (which are now something like 3/4 of that) and jogged down to the “express” checkout aisle to get back home before she did. In front of me were three people, one who paid with a credit card and got through pretty fast, although there was a problem with the register print roll. It got jammed. But after a few seconds the checker had it fixed and away we went. The next person was up to bat. I figured, she had 4 items. Another 60 seconds or so, right?
Nope. This person wanted to pay cash, which is fine, but then wanted to get rid of the change in the purse. That’s ok too, but it developed into a hunt. Different compartments were checked to find the last nickle and two pennies. I swear it took 3 minutes and finally she gave up with a sigh and handed over a dollar bill. Finally. Gone.
I’m nearly there.
Next is a young very handsome couple with a sturdy little boy in the cart. The boy wants to put the stuff on the conveyer and the checker thinks it’s cute. But he can’t lift some of it, like a gallon of milk. But they watch him try for a minute to do it. He gets angry when Dad finally helps. Then there are the other items which are parsed out at a deadly slow rate, one at a time.
Finally the cute little tyke gets the stuff all out and they pay up (they had more than the 10 item limit, but who hasn’t seen that before?) and they’re gone.
Now it’s my turn. Put up my two cartons of Breyer’s and swipe my card, feeling better. But I notice something. The 5 minutes or so that it took me to get to this normality still put me at the end of the queue. There was no one behind me. Gah! I wanted someone else to be waiting. No such luck.
Someone told me there’s an old theorem in probability theory that says no matter which line you pick, it will be the worst. Next time you’re at the temple and it’s a busy day, don’t bother with the short line. It will be the one where recommends are being inspected for radioactivity.