« When Memes Attack Hellmart | Main | I Vote That These Signs Become Standard Issue »



Key word there is 'shouldn't'. Some people just don't care, and some will even do it just because they see you wrapping up.

Just because most decent people would take the hint and not come to your line after you've toggled your light, doesn't mean all of them will :/

Red and Khaki Redhead

She should have gone to another line and not tried to guilt you into taking her. The same thing used to happen to me all the time (but especially during the holidays) at Bullseye because the guests knew I was one of the fastest cashiers. Our registers had an awkward setup so that we'd have to turn our backs to our lines to bag the purchases. I swear that people would purposely wait until my back was turned to jump in my line. I just had to learn to check my line constantly to catch the guests as soon as the jumped in my line, and firmly but politely inform them that I was unfortunately closed but any other register with the light on would be happy to assist them. The thing that sealed the deal for me is that management got so strict about people working over their shifts that we'd get written up for clocking out late. Sure, people would get upset sometimes but if they tried to push the issue I would just tell them that I had to get to the complete opposite corner of the store (our Bullseye is one of the largest in my state) and clock out in x number of minutes or else I'd get written up. I also had to keep a non-red jacket at my register so that I could cover up my red shirt and not get stopped six times on my way back.

The Last Archimedean

The correct phrasing is, "I don't care if you just got here. This register is closed, move to another one." If she whines, call security to escort her out.


I have this happen all the time. We use to have those "Lane closed" signs, (but corporate made us get rid of them) but when we had them I once had a customer pick it up, throw it at me and tell me "Now you are not closed so ring me up."

Our store's policy is if they put it on the belt I have to ring them up, even if I am closed. But like like at Red and Khaki Redhead I sometimes have to turn my back to my line, and that is when they will jump in and start unloading their carts. We also can get written up if we clock out late. But usually our managers are understanding, it is pretty only used against you if they want to fire you. So any one of us cashiers can be fired without warning and the excuse they use is "not clocking out on time"


My experiences as a customer are that the light doesn't mean anything: I go where it's lit and they tell me to use that one over there (being helpful about opening another lane), but there's nobody AT the other place, there will BE nobody there until several minuted after I have unloaded my cart, and I'm happy to wait. And when I point out that the light is not lit, meaning that the lane is closed, they seem to be offended at my observation.


Most likely, the customer knew exactly what she was doing. You were the shortest line, and if you're trying to go home, well then you should be EXTRA FAST in checking her out because you want to GTFO before another self-important hag can delay you further!

Scuffed Truffles

It's startlingly easy to not see a grocery store lame light from my experience. They're not anywhere close to eye level and most people when focused look straight ahead. So all she saw was a seemingly open lane. I've done it myself several times. However what she did next was rude.

Scuffed Truffles


Curse the lack of an edit button!

Bored at the Bookstore

Okay, just my customerly opinion here... my understanding has always been that when the light goes off, the last person then in line will be the last one rung out. I have often had cashiers look up at the line with two or three people in it and flip the light off, saying, "Ma'am? In the red coat? You're last in line! If anyone else comes, would you tell them you're last?"

If I were in line, waiting patiently for my turn and the cashier suddenly said, "Sorry. I'm done. Go to some other line," and I had to go get at the end of some OTHER long line and wait all over again, I would be seriously ticked off.

With my luck, I would get near the register the second time and once again the light would go off before I got there (Is that the origin of the phrase "flipped off"?); whereupon my cart would be abandoned where it stood.

After all, the absolute worst part of shopping is waiting to check out. To have to repeat the process in more than one line is cruel.

If you know you're going off duty in five or ten minutes, then you or your manager should allow time for taking care of those presently in line. If you finish the last one before your time is up, the boss can always send over someone with a small order to fill the time. It's called time management. That's what we did when I worked for the now-defunct Bradlee's (think classier than K-Mart,lower-level than Kohl's) as a cashier back in the ancient days when we lived in caves and fought off the sabre-toothed tigers on the way home...

Crazy Cashier

People do it all the time. People just think, oh there are people here that must mean it's open! I generally switch my light off a little early expecting at least one more person to sneak into my line. ( I go grab extra customers if I finish earlier than my clock out time)

I very rarely have had trouble seeing whether a light was on in a lane or not and I'm legally blind! And it's pretty easily to look at lanes as you're walking up and see which have lights on in them.

Crazy Cashier

@Bored : I believe that's what she's suggesting; is that she turned off her light and then a customer came out. At least that's how I understood it.
That's how I always understood the light to work at least.

grocery store slave

thanks everybody i wish i had a voice to prevent this from happening but i am an introvert and i should try to not let customers bully me i do ring up people that are already in my lane after my light is closed and alot of people do see that my light is off or understand that when i tell them so i hope never to encounter this again and i'll try to be more firm with customers

Poetry Otter

Oh boy, an introvert. I feel your pain.

Sales Agent Guy

I've had that problem before. I swear, some customers will ignore the sign, or be like, "Oh, are you closed?" Unfortunately, the management tells us we still have to take them.

NC Tony

Sales Agent Guy nailed it. If you tell customers you're closing after the next customer (or two), they'll complain to management and you'll end up having to take them anyway, and they'll give you that self-important smirk that you wish you could slap off their face.

The one thing you have to remember is crusys and custo-monsters don't see us as people, but as servants, put here on Earth to do their bidding and kiss their asses. They don't realize or care that we have lives outside of the store. They also don't realize we have places like notalwaysright.com and here to bitch about how fucking stupid they are and how much we hate them.


While it is frustrating, I think there needs to be a better method than the "light" method. I find that in general while at a distance, the lights are clearly visible. Sadly, while people are looking at eye level to find the shortest line, the lights are way too high. I hate shopping so when I find the shortest line, I jump in and don't ever think to look to see if the light is on. I've been told several times by both people in line and cashiers that the lane is closed, I always apologize and move on.

I think the Lane Closed placards and lane closed tape are the best methods. The lights- well, they are just stupid.


A large amount of customers are over entitled, and believe that wage slaves are there to cater to their every whim, regardless of their own lives.

This is fairly common, and honestly you should tell them no so they learn not to be such twats

The Last Archimedean

We have a large LANE CLOSED sign for each register. It works wonders. The first 5 times a customer tried to move it, they got banned by the manager, and word got around. Now even the crustiest of customers know to find a different line.


I was in a very long line at Target over Christmas time. A manager came up and blocked off the lane, leaving me as the last one in line and told the cashier to go on break as soon as she was done with her line. She got done with the person in front of me and told me, "Sorry, I'm going on break now so you'll have to go to another line." I got in line before he closed her lane off, my stuff was already on the counter and I had waited at least 10 minutes in that line. I told her I was NOT about to go wait in another 10+ minute line and she needed to help me. I made her ring me up- it was a small purchase- but she gave me a nasty attitude about it the entire time. Was I wrong for insisting she ring me up?

Hellbound Alleee

How it worked at my Bullseye was...only when the head cashier was a good one. If you have to clock out, and you get a steady line, even after your light is off, she either sends another cashier to stand behind you to sign in just after you sign in, or she does it herself until someone on the floor (who's been called four times) shows up.

As a floor person, it can get extremely annoying to have to run to the front constantly to grab a register. You have a job and are expected to finish it, but "Bob" help you if it's Saturday or the Christmas season. And then you get barked at by your supervisor for not finishing your Pulls or Endcaps.


I work in the land of Red and Khaki, as a cashier. We can't punch out late so all cashiers turn our lights off about 5 minutes before the end of our shift, which gives us time to clean the register, fill the bags and take care of reshop/hangers.

EVERY SINGLE SHIFT I get at least 3 people who try to tell me they were inline when I turned off my light. I just say "sorry, I'm closed" and point at the light. Unless its a person with like one thing, since that won't undo my cleaning. It's so annoying and rude when people do that though. I want to go home (or on break depending) there are other lanes, leg me leave.


Happened once while in line at one of the local grocery stores I only visit when the sales are good. An ex used to work there so I know a good majority of the staff. Was the last one in line, light was off and the sign was up. Did that deter the custy with an overflowing cart? Nope. When asked what she thought she was doing her response was that she was getting in line. "This lane is closed. X's light is off and there is a sign clearly saying this lane is closed. What makes you think you are more important than X? Do you know she will get written up for clocking out late? Not only that, but X has two children at daycare to pick up and will charged a late fee if she is late. 4 other lanes are open and there is also the self scan that isn't 15 items or less. So rather than acting rude and showing that you cannot read, how about showing a tiny bit of courtesy?"

Huffed, slammed her produce back in her cart and scuttled off to another lane.

As X was ringing me out she thanked me and said I didn't have to do that. Told that I did because some people forget that just because you're wearing a uniform/smock doesn't mean you don't have your own life that is just as important.


bottom line customers just don't give a shit about anything


In my former supermarket we had a sign which is attached to the belt. It said: Sorry this check-out is closed. It was simple but effective.

Even though I like talking to the cashiers I absolutely hate waiting in line, especially if there are more then 5 people with cart loads in front of me. So I often do self-checkout. It's a beautiful system. When you have a rewards card you can scan it to pick up a scanning device. While you go round the store you scan all your items and put it in your bags. When you check out, you just put it in a slot, scan your card and follow instructions to pay. Once in a while the computer will randomly target you for inspection and a cashier will scan 5 or 6 of your items (they target the more expensive items such as beer, soap and such). It takes a few minutes to pay.

Long Time Retail Slave

Yeah. . . I worked in grocery store hell for nearly two years. (I quit just before my two year anniversary thing came up.)

From my experience, that is the LEAST annoying thing that customers do. I've had people with overflowing carts come into my 10 items or less lane.

One time the store was very slow and there were 3 lanes open - my 10 items or less and two normals. Thing is, they were right next to each other and we were all standing in front of our registers twirling our thumbs. So this lady with her huge cart full of groceries passes a normal register and tries to go into mine. I put on my best shit stain smile and point to the cashier STANDING RIGHT NEXT TO ME and say "Oh, the lovely [insert name here] can help you!" This bitch ass customer nearly killed me dead with her glare. She said she couldn't understand why I couldn't help her. I explained the whole 10 items or less thing to her and she just scoffed at me AND SAT THERE TAPPING HER FOOT WAITING FOR ME TO MOVE. Finally my coworker practically pulled the bitch's cart over to her lane.

Before you say "Well why didn't you just help her? You were standing there doing nothing!" I saw about three or four customers with 10 items or less eyeing the lanes and waiting for the bitch to move. They all looked like they were in a terrible hurry. Otherwise I wouldn't have cared. Sometimes I did let the big ass cart-full-of-shit bitches come through the 10 items or less lane if I was really, really, really bored and the store was at a snail's pace.

Grocery store bitches are the worst. That type of job is full of all sorts of nasties. Just wait until you discover what I call "Half-Eaten Nats." They'll get something from the bakery, deli, etc, and eat half of it then hide it somewhere lovely just for you.

If I can give you some advice: take all of the nasty comments that you'll likely get (from customers, co-workers, and managers alike) with a grain of salt. Focus on something in your life that is fulfilling to you and IGNORE THE WORK BULLSHIT! You'll be a saner person for it. Your mind literally goes numb from all the bullshit people spew from their mouths in that environment, just have fun with the people you can and ignore the rest. If a bitch customer starts her/his shit, get a manager or supervisor and walk away. You don't get paid enough to listen to bitch ass's face yammering on about worthless bullshit.

Oh, and one more thing, if they ask you to level or face the aisles -- RUN FOR THE HILLS! Seriously, I had many nights in which I was scheduled for 10:30 and didn't get out until 12:30/1. If you have a manager who is a stickler for the details, then make up an excuse as to why you have to leave. They seriously CANNOT MAKE YOU STAY PAST THE TIME YOU'RE SCHEDULED! Don't let them tell you otherwise. The only thing they ever did when I "left early" was write it on my review and tried to take my 25 cent raise away. Fuck that, my sleep and sanity is worth far more than 25 fucking cents.

Sorry this turned into a rant XD

Long Time Retail Slave

Also someone should invent a button that, when pressed, shoots out a bunch of confetti and starts a recording of an angry person screaming "THIS LANE IS CLOSED, PLEASE FUCK OFF!"

Just a thought. :P

Red and Khaki Redhead

The Bullseye I worked at had no express lanes, no self-checkouts, and 3 experimental mobile registers that worked about 1% of the time. There were always long lines and it was always difficult to get off a lane, mostly because the "closed" signs were deemed too impersonal. I gained a whole new appreciation for having to close off lines when I became the Bullseye equivalent of a head cashier. Oh, the stories I have... especially of how I came to quit. But alas, those are for another day...


Here's the closed line etiquette as I understand it as a customer. If you get into line before they turn the light off/close it, then they need to go ahead and ring you through. They don't boot you out of line. If the light is off, you don't get into line. If you accidentally get into line at a closed register, you leave when asked.

As for accidentally getting into a closed line because you missed the lights... As I am approaching the check out lines I am looking up at the lights. Once I note which ones are on, I judge the length of those lines only. Inevitably I always choose the slowest line anyway.

I have a bigger problem with being able to tell whether the self checkout lanes are open or not. Some of the machine will have the green lights on and some won't (are they burned out?), but they'll be on anyway. Then I have to experience unpleasant feelings like confusion.


As was said by others, if the people are already in your line when you shut your light off, you take them. Otherwise, nope. The Midwest's version of Hellmart by me has these nifty chains with the word "CLOSED" on them. Once your people are past the chain, close the chain, and then you're set, I think.

The comments to this entry are closed.


Become a Fan