Chatty Checkouts

grocery cashier and customers at the till

As a Stoic, it’s my goal to accept things as they come. That means not wishing away a flat fire or tummy ache or worse. Acknowledge the moment, deal with it head on. Notice that I said it’s my “goal”. As a typically flawed human being, it can take a little time for stoicism to kick in.

Some irritants are universal. Tailgaters. Loud public cellphone talkers. Shoppers who bunch up close in line or tell the cashier their life story while you wait. Social distancing has taken care of some of these things. But we should deal with the rest. The Stoic tries to be patient. But let’s be honest, in these instances it’s usually thoughtless people thinking only about themselves. Or is it?

The Dutch Solution

In the Netherlands they took a truly kind approach to one of these annoying, recurring incidents. A supermarket chain there now has a Kletassa – chat checkout – in some of its stores. No more waiting for gabby Gladys to finish her story. Gladys gets her own lane where she’s free to talk all she wants. By this time next year, there’ll be a couple hundred Kletessas across the nation

The company is building on a Dutch government initiative called One Against Loneliness. When they realized that 1.3 million Dutch residents are over age 75, and many live alone, they set up a network of home visits and chat lines.

The chat checkouts remove the annoyance for everyone else and give the older person the attention they crave. It’s brilliant. And it’s kind.

This idea could be applied to other things. A beverages-only lane at the drive-thru so food orders get their own slower lane. Why should you have to wait for your medium double-double while the person ahead of you is ordering a half dozen bagels with different fillings? You shouldn’t. Block data in stores where loud cellphone talkers are prevalent. Seriously. We survived for generations without being accessible every second of the day. A five minute stop at Dollarama won’t hurt anybody.

The other day I had to walk through a small crowd of kids smoking outside a bank. There was no alternative. It pisses me off because I’m allergic and get an almost immediate headache. Not to mention, it’s illegal. They were blocking the No Smoking signs. But no one wants to enforce these bylaws. So, install a smoke-triggered sprinkler system. One cold shower should be enough to get the point across. Is it kind? Not really. But it’s effective!

I can’t think of a kind way to deal with tailgaters either. A flamethrower is my best solution.

Imagine if we had fixes for all irritants. An irritant-free world. Could we even stand it? I know I’d like to try.

5 thoughts on “Chatty Checkouts”

  1. I love the idea of a chatty Cathy lane for people who are alone. If it helps make someone’s day, all the better.
    Tim’s please have two lanes, beverage only and food only!!
    People have lost their consideration of others, especially the younger generation. We owe them! NOT
    What happened to just being kind?
    Thanks for the post! Enjoy the day.

  2. I have found one benefit of the pandemic is lines in stores have changed. You get in one line and are the next customer when a checkout is available. No more getting in line behind someone who has a few items, then it turns out an item doesn’t have a price tag or the price is challenged and someone has to be called to do a price check, etc. If you have someone who is chatty it won’t matter – you are able to go to the next available checkout. I find it very efficient. I love it. Now if we can get the stores to turn their music down so you don’t have to shout if you have a question….. Cheers!

  3. I remember an era when every checkout had a cashier! And we liked it that way!

    This is a brilliant idea and all of your ideas are brilliant, too!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *