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20-40-60 Etiquette: Check-out counter slowpoke causes frustration

A customer writes the 20-40-60 ladies to complain about a poky fellow shopper who reconciles her checkbook at the checkout stand.
by Helen Ford Wallace and Lillie-Beth Brinkman and Callie Athey Published: August 4, 2014

Editor’s note: The 20-40-60 Etiquette team is happy to have Joe Hight, editor of the Colorado Springs Gazette, as our guest. He was instrumental in getting this column started several years ago when he was director of information and development at The Oklahoman/NewsOK and he also answered questions as a regular guest! Welcome, Joe!

QUESTION: I went to Target to buy a couple of things, and I lined up to pay. In front of me was a woman with several items in her basket. The checker checked out all of the items and then totaled the bill. THEN, the woman got out her checkbook, filled out with the amount, and paid. After that, she stood there and reconciled her checkbook. The items had been sacked up and ready and she was still working on her checkbook and holding up the line.

Is there any reason that people can’t have the check made out and ready to fill in the amount while they are standing there? They can also have their money ready to pay or their credit card ready. I was totally annoyed with the holdup.

CALLIE’S ANSWER: I think you need to chill out and go to Target at a different time. I am sure this woman didn’t mean to hold up the line and got carried away. If you’re in that big of a hurry, go to the self-checkout line.

LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: Yes, that would be great if other people were always prompt and ready to go, on your schedule. But that’s not going to happen; we all have different challenges on any given day, and we all approach our routines differently. Sometimes people are rude and thoughtless by nature; sometimes they have other things on their minds.

I held up the line accidentally the other day and felt terrible and apologized multiple times to the people behind me. I was so nervous about doing so that I then dropped my wallet and everything spilled, which delayed my checkout even more. The people were really gracious and kind to me. Now, several days later, I can’t remember what happened that caused my holdup. I bet they can’t either.

This is not the first time this question or one like it has come up in this column. The best I can do is make sure I have everything ready to pay as often as possible and be patient and gracious with other people when I can, like the people were behind me. I probably get most frustrated when people do things that inconvenience other people and then don’t care or act like they are entitled to do that. So I’ve been the one who held up the line and the one who has been frustrated by others who do, and I feel your angst. However, I can’t control other people’s actions, only my own. Breathe deeply. We all have to suffer through long checkout lines in one way or another.

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by Helen Ford Wallace
Society Editor
Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for...
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by Lillie-Beth Brinkman
Lillie-Beth Brinkman is a Content Marketing Manager for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. She was previously an assistant editor of The Oklahoman
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by Callie Athey
Freelance Writer
Callie Athey is 20-something and is a graduate from the University of Oklahoma. She has worked in various positions, ranging from Event Coordinator to Environmental Health and Safety Assistant. Currently, Callie is an Executive Assistant to a...
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