You could tell it was the opening weekend of the July Fourth holiday. All one had to do was look at the traffic pouring off of Interstate 93 into the Lakes Region and the full parking lots at the local supermarkets.
I normally make by bi-weekly stop at the local discount warehouse every other Thursday. But due to another commitment I had to put off that trip until yesterday.
That was a mistake.
It was immediately apparent I was going to spend more time there than is usual as the lot was almost three-quarters full. I've never seen the lot with that many cars and trucks in it and I've been shopping there for over 12 years.
Seeing that the gas pumps had only one or two cars fueling up, I decided to fill up the trusty F150 before braving the shopping inside the warehouse. (This discount place also sells gasoline, usually for as much as 10¢ a gallon less than most of the other gas stations in the Lakes Region.)
Once done and making the trip across the parking lot and into the warehouse, I was able to pick up the items I needed pretty quickly. In less than 10 minutes I had gone through my entire shopping list. (When you're buying in bulk it doesn't take much to fill a shopping cart.) However, checking out was a different story.
It is my usual routine to use the self-checkout lanes as they're generally faster than using the regular checkout lanes. That wasn't the case this time. Due to poor planning or poor resource management there were only 2 cashiers working the regular lanes. They should have had all eight of them open. That dearth of human checkers meant the self-checkout lanes were also jammed. And to add insult to injury, many of those using the self-checkout had obviously not done so before as they fumbled around, trying to figure out how to use them. That slowed an already slow-moving process even more. In the lane where I found myself it got worse.
The fellow at the self-checkout terminal had finished running his items through the scanner and was paying for his purchases....with cash. It's one thing if he had cash wad in some logical order, but he had to pick through to find the bill denominations he needed to feed the terminal. It took a long time. It wasn't until he was almost finished that I realized why it was taking him so long: he was trying to give the machine exact change! Either he didn't know or didn't care that the terminal would give him the correct change if he fed it enough cash. (This wasn't an older gentleman who might not be conversant with the technology, but a fellow easily 20 or 25 years my junior.)
Then, his wife ran her items through the scanner and once again he went through his stack of cash, feeding one bill at a time into the terminal. Something that should have taken them all of 5 minutes to do took them 15, which meant the line got even longer than it might have otherwise.
I wasn't the only one having to deal with this as Deb spent a considerably more time at our local supermarket than usual.
First, the parking lot was full, meaning it took time for her to find a parking space.
Second, there were no carts available. She and others had to wait for departing customers to empty their carts before snagging it and heading into the market. She's never had to do that, either.
I don't know whether this is due to the fact that the Fourth of July is in the middle of the week and the summerfolk are making a long weekend or a full week of the holiday or if this is going to be happening all summer long.
I'm almost hoping for the latter rather than the former because it means the tourists and summerfolk are spending more time and more money here in the Lakes Region, something good for our local economy.