I went to the Whole Foods located at Columbus Circle for the first time last week to buy a salad.
The express checkout section was divided into three lines, and each line had a marker: Blue, yellow, and green. An overhead monitor was divided into blue, yellow, and green bars, and as the next register became available, one of the bars would light up, and a computerized voice would announce the register's number. The order proceeded from left to right: The person at the front of the blue line would go, followed by the person at the front of the yellow line, followed by the person at the front of the green line, and this repeated.
It took me a while to even notice the color-coded system. I assumed people were just going in order and being sensible about it.
An Asian girl, who looked to be in her early 20s, was standing in the yellow line, and after however many minutes she reached the front of her line. Soon after, when the green line's turn came, she went to the register that had been announced. The person from the green line met her at the register, and, I guess, told her to go back. Then the blue line's turn came, and the girl again stepped out of line, went to the register, and the person from the correct line met her at the register. By now most people in line had noticed what was going on. Most of them found it funny, but I was getting pissed off, for a number of reasons.
1.) No one took the ten seconds to explain to her how the system works. Someone could have said: "Look up at the monitor. Since you're in in the yellow line, you only go when the yellow bar lights up." This was apparently too difficult.
2.) While the girl was talking with the person from the blue line, the yellow line's register was announced. The person standing at the front of the yellow line now had a choice to make: Either he could wait for the Asian girl to return to the line, and tell her, "Your register is #18."
Or, he could take the available register, and completley ignore the Asian girl, who would subsequently return to her line and have to wait through another cycle. In my opinion, this would constitute cutting in line, since the Asian girl had been waiting ahead of him.
He claimed the register and ignored the Asian girl.
3.) When the girl's next turn finally came, the surrounding patrons all egged her on her way, but they did so with the supressed joy of rubberneckers, as though it made their day to see a girl fuck up in the Whole Foods checkout section. There was an overweight man standing in the yellow line. Once the girl had stepped out he said, to no one in particular, "There you go sweetie."
Then he added: "Sayonara."
He then turned to the woman next to him and, with a smirk on his face, started whispering "I hate...", and I didn't try to listen; and anyway I assumed the woman was his wife. Then, when his number was called, he went to the register...and the woman stayed behind. So apparently he was just sharing his displeasure of the Asian girl with a random stranger in line with him at Whole Foods. I don't like to ask rhetorical questions in my blog, but seriously...who the fuck does that?
I wonder what his job is?
I imagine he's a full-time writer for Slate.com