Monday, December 10, 2007

Why does this switch exist?

Wal-Mart has by far the best price on propane, so I'm there with the rest of the fearful masses buying stuff to survive the impending storm. Across from my lane one of the cashiers is closing down, and keeps having to tell people to move along. At once point I hear: "Lanes 9, 10 and 11 are all open... though John hasn't turned on his light yet." And my cashier hits this switch: And it occurs to me that I have always wondered "why?" The register is already a piece of powered equipment, has been for well-nigh a century. Generally, the operator has to enable the device; now by signing on with their own credentials, but in the past at least with a key. So, why a separate switch? Why not just have the light come on when the register is in "ready to accept transactions" mode? Sure, I can come up with cases where the register is being used for administrative tasks, but that's an exception, and an over-ride can be provided I guess. But the primary case by far is being missed, badly. Now, off to brave the ice weasels.


Jen said...

The switch is for turning on the light above the register, yes? When business has slowed, cashiers often leave their registers to stock shelves, help a customer, take a break, etc. Instead of powering down the register, they lock the register with a password (usually specific to the cashier) and turn their light off letting customers know their lane is no longer open (or conversely, that their lane is open). I used to work for a grocery store that didn't have those light switches. We had a door/magazine rack that you could actually shut, communicating that your lane was closed. I hope this sheds some light on the need for the switch.

shoobe01 said...

Nope. That doesn't help at all.

I worked for years as a cashier, at several levels of store. And I presumed everyone got that the switch controls the light.

Take your case: The cashier walks away, signing off their electronic machine. The light should go off as part of the signoff process. Because the cashier /already said/ they are no longer there. I cannot find a reason that a human has to perform a second action (which, just looking around any store, seems to be poorly used).

John Bossert said...

Could you have PUT a bigger red arrow on the picture? Dag.