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Science Proves You're Doomed to a Slower Checkout Lane

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Online shopping is certainly more popular than ever this holiday season, but it still doesn't seem to diminish the lines at checkout. Be it Home Depot, Target, Walmart, Best Buy, or any variety of supermarkets, we're quickly sizing up each line, the number of items within, and the mobility of the members. Elderly person, most likely a coupon holder. Mother and child, will probably waste time arguing over a Hershey bar. And then there's the efficiency of the cashier to consider.

That's too much thinking to do at the end of a wearisome shopping session.

But no matter how adept you are at stereotyping the people in a checkout line, invariably, we'll spend those agonizing minutes watching another cashier zip through ten customers in no time at all. Why are we always so unlucky?

The culprit: Science. Bill Hammack, AKA Engineer Guy, breaks down why we're doomed a slower checkout lane.

If we're given three checkout lines to choose from, there are six permutations of how each are ranked based on speed and efficiency. Only two of those chances places us in the quickest lane, the other four puts us in the slowest or second-slowest lane. In those cases, we'll be focusing on one of the other two cashiers race through transactions, paralyzed with rage.

But Hammack reasons that there is a solution, one that Whole Foods and Trader Joe's have already figured out: the Combined Queue.

When placing every shopper into one lane and calling them one by one to an open register, no one is ever delayed by the speed of the slowest cashier. Hammack, however, says that customers psychologically dislike the Combined Queue method because it prevents them from "jockeying into position."

Once again, science proves some people to be absolute morons.

So, in the spirit of warmth and understanding this holiday season, please, combine the damn checkout lanes into one line, ya friggin' dingbats!
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