Monday, October 29, 2018

Thoughts in the Checkout

Yesterday I made a quick trip to get a few things at the Owen Brown Giant. The cashier who checked me out was an older woman whose height was on the shorter side. She moved slowly but steadily to perform her tasks. It struck me yet again that US groceries are lacking in the most basic and valuable piece of equipment.

Here is a photograph from a Tesco, probably in England. (They do business in Northern Ireland as well.)

Notice anything?

The checkout clerk is seated in a swivel chair with a back. And all the items she needs are located around her at an appropriate height and within easy reach.

Why on earth do we not have this in the US?  It’s exhausting to stand on one’s feet for hour after hour and there is no good reason that this particular job requires it. This could make a big difference in allowing older employees or differently-abled ones to succeed. It would, of course, make anyone more productive if combined with setting up all the equipment in an ergonomically correct fashion, as Tesco seems to have done.

In doing research for this piece I came across one young man’s hilariously detailed account of working as a clerk in a Tesco. I don’t think he meant it to be hilarious. I was just stunned by his thoroughness. There’s even a few naughty bits.

What did the job entail?
For 90% of the time I was sat on a swivel chair on the tills, scanning groceries and charging people for them. It’s fair to say it got fairly boring at times so I used to just chat a lot of crap to my customers making them laugh.
The writer’s name is Jonny Blair and he’s now a professional travel blogger. And it all started as he sat at the till in the Tesco planning world adventures on the back of old receipts, or so he says. (And that’s what a Google search for grocery clerks in chairs will get you, friends.)
It seems to me to be remarkably humane to allow grocery clerks to sit down while they work. What do you think? Could it ever happen here? 

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