In my youth I was an observant child, more so than most perhaps. To the point of aggravation to my parents, I'd often demand "why?" several times over in an effort to understand why (oops, there I go again) things were the way they were. My 3 year old grandson has the same affliction and I guess I know where he gets it from.
Many of those childhood memory "snapshots" have stayed with me over the years, being poked loose from time to time from the recesses of my cranium by current day occurrences. One such incident made me hearken back just the other day, forcing me to ask myself "why?". Actually, at middle-age the phrase is another interrogative that starts with a "w": wtf?
I was doing the weekly grocery shopping and was zipping up and down the aisles, making good time, when I and my basket came to a screeching halt. As I turned the last corner and headed for the front of the store and the cashiers I encountered the apocalypse. People and their shopping carts were everywhere, snaked across the front of the store. Why? Because only 2 cashiers were on hand to handle the hoards of harried customers.
I deftly circumvented the crowd and headed for the automatic check-outs. I don't know why they call it this because it's actually you the customer that checks out your own groceries as opposed to the cashier. Do you pay any less for this apparent attempt at express egress? No, but you can pay more at the rate of 5 cents per each plastic bag if you didn't bring your own. Alas, not unlike love, the true course of automated cashiering never runs smoothly and there were about another 20 people lined up to engage in technological supermarket sado-masochism.
2 cashiers for 50 people? My middle-aged mind cried "wtf?". And here's where that innocent childhood memory came flooding back. As a young boy in the 50s I visited the barber on a weekly basis, as often as I went to church, to maintain my very cool brush cut. The shop was at the back of a small variety store where, with the change from my haircut, I'd load up on gumballs, licorice twizzlers and other candied confections, an Illustrated Classics comic book or a copy of Hot Rod Magazine. But the thing I remembered most about this picture of little boy bliss was the sign in the window of the barber shop: "Six chairs, no waiting."
And it made me think. Lining up at automated grocery store cashiers, ATM machines, fast-food drive-throughs, self-serve counters and the like just doesn't make sense. Why in the world do things intended to speed us along at twice the pace in this modern world end up taking twice as long?
God I yearn for the days of "six chairs, no waiting". Why? Because.