How To Pick The Fastest Lane At The Supermarket, As Told By Experts

How To Pick The Fastest Lane At The Supermarket, As Told By Experts

Choosing the fastest line at a supermarket should, without a doubt, be categorized as an Olympic sport. It takes strength (both physical and emotional), stamina, and agility to stand behind a soccer mom with her four screaming brats and yet still be able to tell that this line will be shorter than the one to your right, where a woman on the shy side of ninety is buying nineteen boxes of adult diapers.

I’ll be honest, I always choose wrong and I always suffer for it. Sometimes it seems like a better idea to just walk your entire cart out the exit and risk the shoplifting arrest than stand for another minute in a line where the cashier doesn’t know any of the produce codes. Thankfully, some good folks at The New York Times talked to a experts who swear they’ve discovered a few secrets to getting in and out of the supermarket before you lose your mind.

Dan Meyer, Chief Academic Officer at Desmos, says that the first step might be something that feels completely wrong, but is actually smart: getting behind a shopper with a full cart. Due to the amount of time that each individual person and item takes, on average, to get through the line, getting behind a single person with more items can be faster than getting behind more people with fewer average items.

Another tip from Mr. Robert Samuel, founder of a New York-based company that actually stands in line for you, is to head to the left for potentially quicker service. This works because most people are right-handed and, apparently, that makes us veer naturally to the right. Basically, if you have an instinct about something in the supermarket, do the exact opposite of that to save yourself time. Mr. Samuel goes on to state that he prefers female cashiers because “they seem to be the most expedient at register transactions and processing.” Damn right. Women can scan your Top Ramen like nobody’s business. Remember that.

There are a few other tips provided that are basically common sense: older folks will take longer in lines, it’s faster if you face the bar codes toward the cashier (sounds like a lot of work, but that’s just me), and distract yourself. Chatting with someone in line next to you might keep you from obsessing over how long you’ve been waiting, says math and statistics professor Douglas Norton. That’s a good idea—share the pain of waiting with someone else. Misery loves company, right? When in doubt, suck it up and grab an extra box of brownie mix to reward yourself for surviving a Sunday evening line. Just my advice.

[via New York Times]

Image via Shutterstock

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Rory Gilmore

Rory Gilmore on the outside. Emily Gilmore on the inside. Email me funny shit at

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