There's a secret to choosing the right checkout line to get in and out of the grocery store quickly, and it's not what you think.  Sometimes getting behind that lady with the full and overflowing cart can be the fastest.  Let me explain.

The New York Times did a study on checkout line speed, and figured out that it takes about 41 seconds for the extras like greetings and things to happen.  If you have a really chatty checker, it's nice that they're happy and trying to make everyone have a good day, but they're adding time to the process for those with a time limit who need to get back to work or pick up kids from school.

The secret to getting out quickly, is to pick the shortest line with the fullest cart. Getting behind one jam-packed cart will get you through the checkout line a lot faster than if you get behind three carts that have only a few items each.  It's the greeting and receipt printing and such that adds the most time, in theory anyway.  And then there are the coupons.  Sometimes that's a hidden factor that you can't see until the end, and then you have to wait in line while the cashier fixes the ones that don't work and scans and re-scans until others do.  It won't be long before all coupons are electronic and we'll all live happily ever after.

The Times also floats the idea that if we're in doubt, we should go left.  Most people are right-handed, and will have the tendency to veer to the right, and we might find shorter lines to the left.  Oh, and go with girls.  Female cashiers are supposed to be faster than the guys.

If we really want to save time, we should go to Albertsons or Wal-Mart on a weekday morning.  Those are typically the least busy times, and weekend afternoons are the busiest.  So go today, get behind that one full cart on the left, and you'll be in and out in no time.

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