Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Stacking Up

     Stacking is all the rage these days, apparently.  I am being serious, Company.  My niece is involved in some sort of competitive cup stacking.  She is eight.  And she can stack and unstack red solo cups like nobody's business.  I can only flip them.  And fill and empty them of liquids, of course.  And let's not forget about Jenga.  We are Jenga-ing everything now.  But those are easy and uniform items.  Child's play I tell you.  In our everyday lives most of us deal with a far more difficult stacking issue, and we don't even bat and eyelash at it.
     The issue occurs at the grocery store, and it comes because, well, groceries are not uniform.  It would be great if it were possible.  There are heavy canned goods, there are light but bulky boxed goods, all manner of frozen goods, and don't even get me started with the fruits and vegetables.  Most of them don't even have packaging at all.  And things like bread and eggs are dentable and breakable.
     As a consequence of all of this stuff, there is sort of a hierarchy of where stuff needs to go in the cart, right?   The canned goods go into the bottom because they are the heaviest Same goes for the milk.  You don't want to get into a situation in which you have - say a can of tomato soup lying on top of your multigrain bread.  That is bad juju.  Then comes the boxy stuff because it can still support some weight.  By the time you get through all that stuff you are in the frozen and dairy areas and they can go next.  Meat and fruits and veggies go back on the top.  The bread and the eggs, of course, go into the seat where your child should go.  That child, as we all know, should remain safely locked inside your vehicle while you are shopping. (Editor's Note:  That was a joke.  DO NOT ever leave a child unattended in any vehicle.) 
     And that is the same order they teach the baggers, or at least it should be. Because of all of the same reasons.  The heavy stuff goes on the bottom.  And the same in the car, too.  The heavy stuff on the bottom of the trunk.  It all makes such perfect sense, and that is why we all do it.  Except, of course, for me.  When you are a media mogul, Company, you can just take a bigass moving truck to the store so your bags can lay out in one layer.  But you get the drift.  The heavy stuff goes on the bottom.
     Problem with all of this common sense is that the process is not laid out in a way that supports it.  You go through the store and do an awesome job loading your cart with the heavy stuff on the bottom.  Then, you roll up to the register and it is time to unload.  Well, unless you are really and overachiever, the cart is sort of a FILO affair.  That is First In Last Out.  So as you unload your items onto the conveyor belt that always makes me wonder if it is a long enough distance to really require a conveyor belt, all the light stuff goes on first.  And since it passes through the checkout person FIFO (First In First Out) all the light and breakable stuff gets to the bagger first as well.
    The problem here is that what the bagger needs first is the heavy stuff - all the cans of stewed tomatoes that are still lined up on the conveyor.  So now he has a situation where he has to flip the whole group that is coming in.  In approximately four square feet of space.  But he does it because he is a professional.  Unless it is a woman, then she does it because she is a professional.
     Now let's assume that things are in your cart correctly.  Or as correctly as the bagger gets it.  Truth be told, baggers get a bad rap, and I think that it is because of the system.  They do pretty good most of the time with the job that they are asked to do.  So let's give them the benefit of the doubt and say they get it right.  Now you have a cart loaded with the same things that you loaded in it earlier, albeit in a different order.  But the same general order.  Heavy stuff is on the bottom.  Oh, and don't forget the beer on the way bottom rack.  I seriously think they put that there just so you forget shit.  So now you get to the car and have to unload the cart.  But all of the heavy bags are in the bottom of the cart, so now you are in the same boat as the bagger was.  Except that you are mobile out in the field.  In the snow.  Maybe you live in Arizona.  Now it is a sandstorm.  And that kid you had locked in your car has probably escaped and is running around the parking lot.  Oh, and now you have a dog too.  So have fun with that.
      The point here is that the system is broken people.  All of this flipping and flopping back and forth.  Maybe we need some innovative solution like a circular conveyor belt.  Or a reversible one.  I don't know.  I am not a grocery conveyor belt expert.  I am a media mogul.  I guess that I just don't stack up.

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