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Don’t You Love Express Lanes?!

Since I'm not much of a shopper, my trips to stores often find me with only several items in my hands or cart. If there's no self-checkout, I usually try to go through the express lane. But that often presents at least a few frustrations, as depicted so well in the following pie chart.

Express Lane Realities

I could add several more wedges to that pie, such as wanting to pay by check or credit card when the sign clearly states "cash only," wanting to leave their cart to run and grab another item quickly, and many more. What wedges would you add to that pie chart?

Since I'm a bit of a grammar Nazi, I still bristle at the verbiage on most express lane signs, as shown in the chart above — using the word "less" with a plural noun instead of using "fewer." Here's how several people have tried to remedy that situation.

Fewer Added

10 Items Or Fewer Cartoon

Several stores actually get it right, as seen in the signs below:

10 Items Or Fewer

Publix Correct Sign

Supermarket Express LaneFewer

Even the Brits struggle with the less/fewer problem. A chain store called Tesco, based in the UK and whose slogan "Every little helps" almost looks like it's wrong, apparently got complaints about the following mistake in their signs:

Tesco 10 Items Or Less

In an effort to correct that situation, they introduced a new mistake:

Tesco Correction

Some Walmart stores have tried other ways to avoid the less/fewer confusion:

Express Lane 10-15-20

One store thought they'd help those who can't count:

Express Lane This Many

Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those Walmart-bashers — I actually like Walmart. But they are also a source of a lot of humor. Here's something I ran across on Facebook:

Walmart 12 Teeth Express Lane

I'll end with this story that makes me smile....

I was in the express lane at the store quietly fuming. Completely ignoring the sign, the woman ahead of me had slipped into the checkout line pushing a cart piled high with groceries.

Imagine my delight when the cashier beckoned the woman to come forward, looked into the cart and asked sweetly, "So which six items would you like to buy?"


Cashiers have told me that they've been instructed not to scold people or refuse to check them out if they exceed the limit for the express lane, so the story above would probably happen only in my dreams.

How about you? Are you a frequent user of express lanes? Do you have any favorite express lane experiences you'd like to share in the comments?


"I have but two days on my calendar — today and the day I stand before Christ." — Martin Luther


There are two rules for ultimate success in life: 1. Never tell everything you know.

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4 Comments on “Don’t You Love Express Lanes?!”

  1. #1 Vikki
    on Oct 3rd, 2013 at 9:30 am

    Ah yes, express lanes… How about when no one is in the express lane, you have over the number of items by at least double, but the clerk comes over and tells you to come and check out. Then someone gets in line behind you and glares at you the whole time because of how many items you have. I try to nicely tell them that I was told to get into the line – has happened to me several times.

    However, my biggest gripe is when the person just stands there through the whole check out process and, once the amount is announced to her, she THEN finds her purse and commences to dig for her checkbook. Now she wants to know who to write the check to, asks for the date, asks for the amount and FINALLY starts to write out the check. Asks again for the amount, verifies the date, hands the clerk her check and puts her purse away. Now she’s asked for her license and the dig and hunt begins again.

    Another is the person who is paying with cash and insists she has the correct change somewhere in her purse. Everyone stands and waits while she slowly empties her purse trying to find that last couple of cents she just knows must be in there someplace in spite of the fact that the cashier has told her several times that the couple of missing cents is fine.

    How come these things never seem to happen when you’re not in a hurry?!?

  2. #2 Ray
    on Oct 3rd, 2013 at 11:59 am

    How about “</= 10" ?

    I like the three hands, but somebody with a sixth finger would challenge it on a technicality … and hold up the line.

    Another hold up is a price check or arguing it is on sale that day / or missed the deadline for the sale.

  3. #3 Mary
    on Oct 3rd, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    For some reason, I get annoyed at the “loose change queens.” The ones who bring in a bagful of coins and slowly count them all out to pay for their purchases. Especially in the Express lane. But you have to admit, they are paying with cash.

  4. #4 Susan
    on Oct 4th, 2013 at 7:48 am

    I don’t thing spam peeps read… they just spam….not sure what they get out of it… are they paid? Anyway now that I am in a new chapter of life – one that has me doing one thing at a time, not the three to six at a time of my youth, it matters not to me what happens in an express lane. Just more time to pray is the way I look at it.