A Line Violation

Happy New Year’s Everyone!

 I thought I would cover a topic that is generally more prevalent during the holiday season but something we all run into at least once or twice a week.  That topic is waiting line etiquette.  I have always argued that the only fair approach to merchant lines is a single line with fan out.  Specifically this means that there is a single line that all customers begin in.  At the end of this line you disperse out to an open register.  This insures a true FIFO (first in first out) that insure a fair treatment of all customers and no one is victimized by a particularly slow checkout employee, unacceptable price checks because the merchant failed the customer by not effectively labeling or programming the price of an item or god forbid the two parties decide it is chat time.  Unfortunately, only a few merchants appreciate their customers enough to impose this order at the registers (note, failure to plan enough space to do this in the register area is not an acceptable excuse).  I will give Best Buy, Taco Bell and Burger King props for consistently using this checkout model.   Often times I will attempt to initiate this myself by standing back a couple feet from the registers in hopes that at least two other people understand that this is really the fastest approach in the long run (there is a chance you might pick the fastest checkout, but I’ll bet you will fail more than you will succeed).  Note, I say two people because I have found through trial and error that this is the key number – as long as those two other people hold the line, others feel obligated to conform – and thus everyone wins. 

 My recent observation not only did not have the optimal line approach, there was clearly what I call a line violation – translated – someone decided they were more important than the other individuals waiting in line before them.

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Short Term Memory

Well, the wait is finally over… actually since I am not sure who (if anyone) has been actually waiting on my posts, I will simply characterize it as the procrastination has ended.  It is the symbolic 11th hour for a resolution I made to myself much earlier in 2007.  That resolution was to find a way to capture all the observations that intrigue me from day to day.  I tried traditional journaling, but that did not lend itself to quick updates while out and about unless I carried the journal with me and the number of paper scraps with random thoughts on it was becoming unmanageable.  Then my brother alerted me to WordPress which was the most functional electronic journaling tool I have come across yet.  So with his help we are here today and probably the most satisfying part is the successful completion of another New Year’s resolution….. and just in time as I start determining next year’s goals tomorrow!

 I decided to start with the observation I consider the Tipping Point for this entire blog (actually I found Malcolm’s book on Blink even more fascinating, but T.P. had some very interesting topics including a compelling discussion on children shows).  One day while standing outside the Associated Bank building in downtown Peoria, I noticed an individual approaching the entrance to the first floor bank lobby.  For some reason, what caught my attention was the odd angle he was taking towards the door.  That angle eventually took him directly to the left side of a glass double door.  Typically in the US, ongoing traffic stays in the right lane and oncoming traffic traditionally flows on the left side.  This is required in our vehicle traffic and mimicked in pedestrian flow – watch stairs in a high traffic area and you will see the natural tendency although it is rarely ever posted anywhere.   Now I am very aware from my travels and interaction with locals that other countries have a reversed pattern.  On my observation to-do list I have a task to verify how standard pedestrian traffic flows in these countries.  My guess is this will be similar to the traffic flow on their roads.  The subject of this particular observation did not appear to be from another country so that did not explain the vector he had taken. 

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