This is something I’ve always wanted to address. But first a little history lesson with some of the most basic research I could find on the Internet.
The conveyor belt is a common fixture in most major retail establishments. Historically the earliest known use of this device is the late 17th century, for mass production. There are many companies that make use of this technology and it is so ingrained in human civilization that there are even World Records for conveyor belts.
According to Tony Seideman, who wrote this article for barcoding.com the barcode scanner we are familiar with dates back to 1962. (Yes, I know this was when the patent was granted, read the article yourself and keep up with me here) The earliest use of barcoding technology in commercial supermarkets was a place called Marsh in Troy, Ohio. A pack of chewing gum was the first thing ever purchased using the barcode scanner.
What we learn from this is the conveyor belt has been commercially available to grocery stores since before the existence of the electronic barcode scanner. For the longest time, I was only joking about this, but now I have done the research to confirm what was once theory. So I submit to you this question.
How the fuck can the simple concept of a plastic divider elude so many of my customers?
At peak times, I could have a ton of people in my line. Sometimes if people are only purchasing one or two things, they hold on to them until I am done ringing out the larger order ahead of them. But when this really gets my nerves is when I am ringing out a significantly large order and the next customer in line, begins placing their order on the belt as soon as there is space, without placing a divider there.
If I’m not paying attention, I can literally ring out almost a hundred dollars worth of merchandise that customer A did not even put in their cart, because customer B was not paying attention themselves. I know I can miss little details because I am not a robot and there a ton of things going on around me at all times. The thing that takes most of my attention, is trying to make sure I don’t double scan anything and that I get of all of my customer’s coupons scanned. As aware of my surroundings as I can be, distractions do happen.
Taking the few seconds make sure there is a plastic divider between your groceries and the next customer’s is one of the essential keys to minimizing confusion at the check lanes. Even if you think I should be able to automatically tell your stuff apart from someone else’s, get the fuck over yourself. There’s nothing so special about you.
If the Pope were buying a cart full of Triscuits, I’d expect His Holiness to use the plastic divider as well, because damned if I have time to pay attention to him while I’m trying to sort out a discrepancy between a price on the screen and the price the poorly English speaking customer has invented in her head.