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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 [1], 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


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