Social Question

jca's avatar

If you're in the front of the line at the store, and a new cashier opens a line close by, should you have "dibs" because you're next in line, or should the privilege be for whoever is quickest to get there?

Asked by jca (36002points) June 3rd, 2010

this question is not because of any particular incident. i was just thinking about it today when i was at the store, waiting in line. sometimes a cashier opens a new line, and calls “next in line.” it seems to be open season for whoever is quickest. should the privilege go to the person next up in the original line, because they were obviously in line for the longest time? or should the privilege go to someone random, maybe someone towards the end of the original line who just happens to be observant, quick and ready? have you ever pondered this?

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31 Answers

Randy's avatar

In stores, it’s a dog eat dog world. First come, first serve. You’ll find polite people that will let you go in front of them but only on occasion.

Watch out for mothers. They’ll cut your throat to get out of the store faster if they can.

faye's avatar

I think it should be the person next in the original line unless it’s hard for them to get out. That said, if I’m near the end of the original line I love it when the new teller looks at me.

JLeslie's avatar

Next in line. Some stores the new cashier directly addresses the next person on line to come over to the register, to make it clear. I think that is a good practice.

MagicalMystery's avatar

i got annoyed today because i was in Costco and i had my stuff on the conveyor belt, and the lady in front of me had issues with her membership, and ringing up stuff, and it was taking a lot of time. a new line opened up and the people behind me noticed and jumped on it, and i was stuck because my stuff was up. by the time i even noticed the new line, it had people on it. all i could do was sigh and be patient, and wait it out. it was like Murphy’s Law. The line you pick will be the line with problems.

YARNLADY's avatar

Every store I shop at will take the next person in line and pull them over to the new cashier. Why would anybody shop at a “everybody for themself” store?

JLeslie's avatar

@MagicalMystery If your stuff is already on the belt you are kind of screwed, unless it is just a couple of things. That sucks.

kevbo's avatar

This is another possible response. It’s a little bit of reading but worthwhile.


Personally, I think it should go to the person standing next in the original line, since he has been there the longest. I think it’s actually rude for someone who just appeared at the back of the original line to make a dash for the newly opened cash till. That happened to me last week at a large supermarket. I had been waiting in line for about 10–15 minutes when another cashier opened up next to my line. I was next in line and about to step over there, but two boys at the end of the line dashed over to the newly opened cash till and beat me to it. I was miffed. The boys were only about 14 or 15, but I was ready to go over there and punch their lights out. Lol.


@Randy And also watch out for mannerless teenage boys! Lol.

Coloma's avatar

I am extremely easygoing about stuff like this, infact, I like to give my turn away.
Pay it forward, always. ;-)

bolwerk's avatar

There really should be one line, and everyone should go to a cashier as they become free.

YARNLADY's avatar

@bolwerk I like that idea best.

JLeslie's avatar

@bolwerk I say that all of the time. I have never seen a grocery store set up like that. I do see it in banks, and some smaller shops.

MissA's avatar

Next in line would seem to be fair. I’m now retired, so usually I am in no hurry…which feels GREAT! Grocery-line etiquette means a lot to people, so I let others in front of me as much as possible without being totally silly. I like to let others have the right of way in traffic. It’s just nice to give the other guy a break.

bolwerk's avatar

@JLeslie – I’ve only seen it in really big cities.

JLeslie's avatar

@bolwerk You’re right. I wasn’t thinking. Whole foods in NY comes very close to “one” line.

Coloma's avatar


Right on!

Don’t sweat the small stuff and always look for the opportunty to make anothers day! :-)

WestRiverrat's avatar

Depends on how much stuff they have. If they only have one or two items and were at the end of the line, I think get them done and out of the way. If they shop like the Duggars and have 3–6 carts of stuff, next in line should take precedence.

lilikoi's avatar

In my experience, the cashier will typically call “next in line” and signal to the person at the front of the line. And also in my experience, people tend to expect that the first person in line has first dibs. And usually if the line is really short and moving and a cashier is opening a new register anyway, they will just grab the person at the very back of the line (since the line isn’t very long). So in general, I think accepted supermarket courtesy says that you yield to the person at the front of the line.

Ltryptophan's avatar

If I am opening my register, I go hand pick the person I want before I open if there are lines. No confusion…

Merriment's avatar

No cashier should open a new line without saying “May I help the next person in line”?

This stops the leg race behavior that rude people indulge in…and it averts the ass kicking that this rude behavior inspires in me :)

Coloma's avatar


Maybe look at it as an exercise in patience, be merry, live up to your name. lol

YARNLADY's avatar

I always give myself enough time to let other in line ahead of me. I don’t always have to be the next one.

MissA's avatar

I love to see people smile in the check out lanes. It’s one of those times that it makes a great difference to the general atmosphere.

Also, we live in a tourist area, and when I realize that the person in front or back of me is one…I offer my discount card to them. It can make a HUGE difference and they get an even better feeling about our community.

Merriment's avatar

@Coloma – Oh, I’m very Merry and patient about it! I never stop smiling as I patiently explain to them that they aren’t royalty and that the next person in line is entitled to be served first. Where it goes from there totally depends on their “patience” and “good sense” . lol

Silhouette's avatar

It’s common courtesy to take the next person in line and everyone knows this, the cashier, the next person in line and the last person in line. Like @Ltryptophan says the cashier should approach the next person in line and ask them to follow to the new register. The foot races and arm wrestling matches are for sport, any employee worth a pinch of shit will take charge of the situation and make sure the customers are served in the proper order.

shego's avatar

I was taught when I was a cashier, to take the next person in line. I am not a totally patient person, so I do kind of complain when the whole world migrates to the “new” line, and I should have been next. It bothers me, that many companies don’t expect the cashiers to take the first person.

whitenoise's avatar

@kevbo thanks for that link. Do as he says do and don’t do as he did.

Wallace was severely depressed most of the time and sadly took his own life in 2008

FishGutsDale's avatar

When i used to work as a cashier if i opened up a new register and there was a big line, i would go and grab the next person in line and bring them to my register before i even opened. Then more often then not the other people in that queue would follow suit.

man i hated being a cashier though

JLeslie's avatar

I let people go ahead of me all of the time also. But, that is not the same as someone pushing ahead of you in line.

Cruiser's avatar

Since everybody seems to be in such a hurry where I live it almost always is a grab fest free for all when a new cashier shows up. Most stores lines where I shop are fast movers so if people behind me dash for the new cashier no biggie to me. But it still irks me when they don’t offer to me and/or the next person in line the option to be next at the new register.

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