I blogged last week about the unparalleled experience my sister had during her surgery and stay at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. A key ingredient for me, as an advocate for her, was the clarity that helped me navigate from the patient drop-off area to the Family Atrium and then to her bedside without hesitation or confusion.

So when I was at the grocery store last Saturday I had to laugh at what, for me, was new signage at the check-out. There was a distinction being made at the express lane which I had never noticed before. Rather than a specific number of groceries as illustrated here, the wording on the ShopRite poster read: Express Checkout – About 20 Items.

I immediately imagined the staff meeting that preceded the decision on that phrasing–

“Customers are constantly counting the  number of items the person in front of them puts on the conveyor belt.”

“We have to stop the fighting at the checkout line!”

“Does anyone know how to count these days?”

For anyone who follows directions to a tee (like me), and fantasizes lethal punishments for those who don’t, this new wording strikes an hysterical chord and reminds me, “Is this really important?”

Actually, the bottom line here that prompted me to pull out a pen and paper to record the new message (I’m still in the generation who doesn’t immediately think to snap a shot with my phone) was the nod to the customer experience. If you have 18 or 23 items in this express lane, you’re not going to be yelled at by the irate or irrational customer behind you. The rules have been loosened and the margin for acceptability has widened. Let’s all breathe a sigh of relief.

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