While trying to pay for an item at the Poughkeepsie Job Lot, I was yelled at and berated; and I'm still confused about what I did wrong.

I'll admit, I'm not a usual shopper of the Ocean State Job Lot on Route 9. But on Thursday, I needed to pick up a hook to hang a picture on, so I decided to stop in real quick while waiting for a coffee in the same plaza.

I found my $1.99 item and walked to the front of the store where two registers were open. As I waited in line at the first register, I noticed that the people in front of me had carts full of items, and the person checking out was in the middle of a dispute over a sale price. I eyed up the other register and noticed that there were just two people in line, so I bailed and went into that line.

When I finally approached the cashier, she mumbled something about wanting to know if I was in line. I said "yes," I was just waiting in line. She looked at me with a confused face as another shopper came behind me. I put my item on the counter to pay as the other shopper started yelling something about "everyone doing whatever they want!"

As I turned around I realized he was talking to me. Confused I said, "I'm sorry, what did I do wrong?" He didn't answer so I turned to the cashier and said, "Honestly, I'm sorry, is your register not open?" She mumbled, checked me out, and, still kind of stunned, I turned to the person behind me and apologized, although I had no idea what for. He said he wished he could just follow whatever rules he wanted to and gave me the stink eye as I walked away.

Not being one of those people who can let things like this go, I called a friend of mine who frequents this store and asked them what the hell just happened. They started to laugh and said, "Oh no... you broke the line rule."

"What line rule?"

Apparently, there's an unadvertised rule in place at the Ocean State Job Lot that has no signs explaining it, nor any employees who will volunteer to tell you about it. But if you're brazen enough to break this "secret" rule, you'll be shamed by the cashier and chastised by regular customers as you try to pay for your items.

According to my friend, it all started during COVID. Like many other stores, Job Lot changed its procedure for checking out to help customers socially distance themselves. I'm told that a huge sign used to be displayed in the front of the store that informed shoppers to line up at the furthest register while another employee would direct customers to which actual register to check out at. I remember similar situations at many other stores at the time, so this made perfect sense to me.

But let me make this clear: there is no longer a sign there, nor is there an employee directing cart traffic. With two registers open and two lines going, someone who doesn't frequent this store would never know about any special line procedures that used to be in place months ago. Both lines looked like any other checkout lines in any other normal store... but I learned quickly that this was absolutely not the case.

Virtually all stores and supermarkets in the Hudson Valley have abandoned the one-way aisles and long social-distancing lines. In fact, people in line at the Job Lot were packed in like sardines, not six feet apart. Plus, I noticed I was virtually the only one in the store wearing a mask. So I'm not sure why this rule is even still in effect.

Regardless, I'm not in any rush and am always perfectly fine following whatever rule you have for checking out... as long as YOU TELL ME WHAT THE RULE IS!

So please, Ocean State Job Lot, do your new customers a favor and let them in on your strange, one-line/two line checkout rule. And if someone gets in the wrong line, perhaps explain it to them instead of scolding them. Like most everyone else, I'm doing my best to get through the day without making people angrier than they already are right now. There's no reason to make me into a villain when all I want to do is check out when it's my turn.

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