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How To Pick The Fastest Checkout Line At The Grocery Store

Flickr / U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District

It’s estimated that Americans spend 37 billion hours a year waiting in lines, and you contribute a good chunk of that just talking your kid down from tantrums at the grocery store. (Damn you, strategically placed toys and candy!) Face it, grocery shopping with tiny humans is like playing Supermarket Sweep in The Hunger Games. Fortunately, The New York Times has consulted with experts on the subject and their insight could help you efficiently get in and out of line without any tears. Oh, and your kid might not cry either.

The Fastest Grocery Store Line

According to Robert Samuel, the founder of Same Ole Line Dudes — an NYC-based service that stands in line for you (so New York), most people are right handed and unconsciously veer right. Veering left will allow you to avoid all those suckers, for starters. Once you do that, Dan Meyer, chief academic officer at the math app studio Desmos, has a tip that’s a tougher sell: get behind someone with more stuff in their cart, not less. This might seem counterintuitive, but his research found that it takes an average of 41 seconds per person to greet the cashier, pay, say goodbye, and leave a lane. Add to that an average of 3 seconds to ring up each item, and you discover that it takes 6 minutes to stand behind one person with 100 items but 7 minutes behind 4 people with 20 items. Damn you, polite people.

Other recommendations from experts include avoiding chatty cashiers (which you were going to do anyways), pay attention to shoppers with duplicate items (which ring up faster), and look out for lines that lead to multiple cashiers (which are better than one). But one of the best tips might have to wait until your kid gets a little older to try: Splitting up in express lines. But be careful busting that out at Whole Foods. No one is sure what they do with free range children.

[H/T] The New York Times