Grocery Shopping in Tartarus

  Occasionally we go to the grocery store. It’s one of those unfortunate necessities that comes with being a living thing. They recently remodeled aisle 11 (dairy goods) and in the transition cooking crème stopped being a thing at our store. Which is unfortunate because the meal we are making this week calls for it. Liz apparently has a plan but it was incredibly bothersome.

  Today’s post isn’t about grocery shopping or the lack of cooking crème. Today I want to talk about logistics and something that bothers me deeply. We’ll begin with an excellent drawing that you will instantly recognize.


It is all so clear to me!


  For the few of you that don’t get what you are looking at we’ve got 2 rows of columns. The top row are various aisles where you can find food. The 2nd empty space through the end are all fairly active and you will often find people walking through them. The first aisle is almost always empty because its just specialty soda’s and a few other uncommon buys. I’ll color code this to make it less of a memory game.


  The further you get to the center of the store (this image only really covers half the aisles) the busier it gets as everyone is funneling down towards the front registers. For whatever reason most people prefer doing self service than going through the regular aisles these days which means that a line always forms for the 6 self service checkouts.

  Here is where my problem comes from. Naturally the smartest way to build the line for self service is to run it up along the empty aisle because you are only blocking the rare person that really needs a 0 calorie fruit soda. Which would look like this.


  It’s perfect! This is what I think every sane human being would do. We figured it out the very first time we visited this store and it has never resulted in us stopping someone from getting to registers or from getting to the more frequented aisles. You might think to yourself that this is exactly what everyone does. But lately we’ve been seeing a very strange decision made by people that is really screwing the pooch for everyone.





  The first instance was what we experienced today (and a few times before) and it resulted in a traffic jam across half the registers, and half the aisles. We got trapped in a maelstrom of flesh and herd mentality that was incredibly stressful and didn’t help anyone get anywhere faster. It boggled my mind because I couldn’t fathom why anyone would have thought it was a good plan but apparently a half dozen people did indeed think it was (note I only put 5 carts in the image above but the images are just for a visual aid).

  The second might seem like a fantastic option except that it blocks the entrance to the store (not something you’d know) and its impossible to really see that there is a line until one starts forming in that first aisle or to the other direction. This situation creates a mad max style battle between lines that ends in the deaths of literally dozens of people.

  This reminds me of a similar problem with malls which I think I’ve discussed before. If I haven’t (or if I forget) I’ll write a post about the perfect mall flow and why the “freedom” model we currently use is bad for everyone.

  In the end I really want to buy some floor stickers and build a queue for our local grocery because this is maddeningly inefficient. It ends up increasing the time it takes people to get through the store by many times and does absolutely nothing beneficial.

  Old man rant over.