Keep the line moving

The supermarket checkout line is relaxing.

Not a bad super power to gain for just a few years of part-time work, right?

I worked in a supermarket, mainly as a cashier, while I studied informatics at university. It was more than ten years ago, and I still feel a sort of collegial bond with whoever is behind the counter as I stand there in line. Inclined to believe the best, knowing we are on the same side, safe in the knowledge that if anyone is going to slow down the process, I will be the one. Which in turn means I will always, unless leviathan force prevents me, do everything I can to optimize. Placing items in the right way and attempting to finish payment before the last item is scanned.

There is of course another, major reason I feel relaxed. This used to be an environment I worked in. A situation where I had to be alert, where I wanted to do a good job and make people feel good.

Now, all I need to do is stand around, flop stuff onto a conveyor belt and jam a little card into a machine which always rates my purchase "godkänt". Quite the step down in expectations and responsibility, so the least I can do in return is be efficient and polite.

On the topic of relaxing, I clearly remember one moment a few months after I started doing checkout work. I was standing in the changing room, had put on my working clothes and was just about to head out to start my shift. I looked into the mirror and realized a new feeling: I was no longer feeling a little tense about the job. I knew my stuff, I had run into most exceptions and mistakes and knew how to deal with it.

I had got good at my first real job.

So: checkout line. Familiar, calm space.

Exception …

… when strange customers show up of course …