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The Scientifically Proven Way To Pick The Fastest Grocery Store Line

A handy guide to cutting down your time in the dreaded checkout line

It’s ok, we’re all terrible at this. Science says we’re just no good at choosing the best lines in stores. Thankfully, there’s help available.


Wondering how to cut down the painfully slow time you spend in line at the grocery store? Look no further: here are the top strategies for cutting down on your wait time, according to scientists that have studied the issue.

The New York Times spoke with experts who offered a number of strategies for cutting down on the supermarket shuffle and also proposed a few suggestions that stores (and customers) could implement to make the process run more smoothly for everyone involved.

One major supermarket chain, Kroger, has already reported great success implementing it’s “QUE Vision,” an electronic notification board that lets shoppers know which lanes are open and which occupied ones are moving quickly. They say the system has cut the average wait time down dramatically, from more than 3 minutes to around 30 seconds.

But if you don’t have a Kroger store nearby with QUE Vision, can’t afford a home delivery grocery service, or simply prefer to shop elsewhere, here are the highlights from that helpful New York Times investigation:

Get Behind A Person With A Full Cart

Wait, what? Chief Desmos academic analyst Dan Meyer tells the paper that it takes an average of 41 seconds to process each person. Getting through the actual items is the easy part. In other words, it will take less time to stand behind 1-2 full carts than 5-6 baskets with less items. “Every person requires a fixed amount of time to say hello, pay, say goodbye and clear out of the lane,” Mayer said.

Choose An Aisle On The Left

Left-handed people have a secret advantage. Most people are right handed and tend to pick aisles in that direction. So, next time consider making the “right” move by changing lanes.

Pick A Female Cashier

Well, this is either incredibly stereotypical or a testament to the superior skills of women everywhere but one expert says on average, women just tend to get customers in and out of the line more quickly than their male counterparts. “This may seem sexist, but I prefer female cashiers,” said Robert Samuel, whose company Same Ole Line Dudes gets paid to wait in lines for more fortunate and less patient clients. “In my experience they seem to be the most expedient at register transactions and processing.”

It’s True, Older Customers Tend To Be Slower

Beacon college professor A. J. Marsden says older customers tend to take a bit longer. But before you call us (or Marsden) ageist, we’re going with the explanation that it’s because they’re just so much wiser than their less experienced fellow human travelers.

The Times offers a few more helpful tips, such as avoiding lines where people are buying a bunch of smaller, delicate items like fruits and vegetables and to avoid lines with structural challenges like veering around corners. Read the whole thing and the next time you head off to buy groceries do so with the confidence that you’ll be in and out in no time.

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The problem with American Sign Language (ASL) is that over 500,000 people in the U.S. use it, but the country has over 330 million people.

So for those with hearing loss, the chances of coming into contact with someone who uses the language are rare. Especially outside of the deaf community.

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Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.





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Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

A new CBS News poll found that 70% of Americans between 18 and 29 feel climate change is a crisis or a serious problem, while 58% of Americans over the age of 65 share those beliefs. Additionally, younger generations are more likely to feel like it's their personal responsibility to address climate change, as well as think that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is viable. Overall, 25% of Americans feel that climate change is a "crisis," and 35% feel it is a "serious problem." 10% of Americans said they think climate change is a minor problem, and 16% of Americans feel it is not a problem that worries them.

The poll found that concern for the environment isn't a partisan issue – or at least when it comes to younger generations. Two-thirds of Republicans under the age of 45 feel that addressing climate change is their duty, sentiments shared by only 38% of Republicans over the age of 45.

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