It's a common phenomenon ton of shoppers have experienced: they walk into a supermarket and happily go on their way, filling up their carts and baskets with all of their groceries, maybe even a few little treats you didn't plan on getting but thought to yourself, "why not, maybe I'll treat myself," and you're excited to get back home and put all the stuff away and get to eating your yummies, but then you see the check-out lanes.
There are throngs of them, but only one or two attendants actually working the stations, with lines of customers who also have full carts waiting to be rung up. First, frustration sets in and you wonder to yourself, "why the heck don't they staff these places with enough folks? And why are all the world's dumbest people gumming up the works on the self check out lines?!"
So you stand and wait and your quick trip to the supermarket starts to feel like some type of interminable journey you wish would already end. And as frustrating as it may be as a customer to experience this phenomenon first hand, a TikToker says it's equally frustrating on her end as a cashier, especially when customers pipe up about the long check-out wait times.
In text overlay in a now-viral TikTok she posted while in her HEB uniform (if you're unfamiliar, HEB is a Texas-based grocery chain with over 420 locations as of 2022, including stores in Mexico) she writes: "it's the closing shift. We aren't going to have 10 lanes open. The lines are long, do don't yell at me...now help me bag your $500 order please."
The TikToker offers a simple explanation for why so many people encounter long wait lines at some store locations, saying that it's to be expected since it's the closing shift. While there are differing opinions from folks regarding closing shifts, it's understandable why some employees would be reluctant to work them.
Typically speaking, the majority of US workers begin their workdays between the hours of 6 and 10 AM, which means that the majority of the population is out of week by the late afternoon/early evening. This means that many folks are probably looking forward to getting out of work and partaking in some recreational activities or trying to get all of their errands done during the week at these "after hours" or spend some time with family and friends who work similar schedules.
According to Azbigmedia, the busiest times for retail are between the hours of 12-2pm and 4-6pm, so it would make sense for stores to keep their locations fully staffed at these times. The latest shifts, or right before closing are generally associated with the least amount of foot traffic, so stores will more than likely reduce the amount of staff at these times in order to manage costs more effectively.
Which could be why they were so frustrated with customers for not understanding this concept. What doesn't help matters, either, is that American consumers are widely regarded as being gratuitously rude to retail employees, a trend that has only seemed to worsen after COVID-19 mandates/restrictions were lifted. The Atlantic straight up called "American shoppers...a nightmare."
Tons of TikTokers who saw the video commented on her post and shared their own cashier horror experiences. Others also sympathized with her plight, adding that they too had no idea why so many customers were just so darn rude.
"They wait till the very last minute then complain there’s no cashiers"
"No frs I die every time"
"left bruh, on 4of july it was slow allllll day and then once the fire works ended, everyone came in, i was pushing carts for 2hours straight be4 close"
"when they come into my check lane with a cart full of items, and it’s 3 minutes before closing"
"LITERALLY THIS LADY WAS LIKE “y’all don’t have any more lanes open” ma’am it’s 10:40"
"At that point i just walk out of the store without paying"