Deli Counter-Intelligence: My Love-Hate Relationship
By Kimberley Coughlin
There are certain everyday situations that feel like little jackpots: getting a parking spot right in front of the store you’re going into; walking into the laundry room to find that all of the machines are empty; and arriving at the grocery store and seeing that there is no line at the deli counter. Like most Americans, I love a good sandwich. I don’t need anything fancy; bologna on hamburger roll brings my back to my childhood and my new favorite combo, Boar’s Head Buffalo Chicken with fresh avocado, is simple but delicious. Unfortunately, the take-a-number system at the deli counter – or lack thereof – drives me nuts. Thus, developed my love-hate relationship with the deli counter; I love their products, but I hate the ordering process. Something always seems to be out of order, either there are no tickets left in the dispenser or the LED Screen that displays the number is broken. Sometimes, after a particularly frustrating day, it feels like the little pink ticket poking out of the red plastic dispenser is a tongue sticking out just to antagonize me. When there are no numbers to go by, shoppers seem to conveniently forget how to form a line and the situation devolves to lunch-meat lawlessness; procuring provolone should not be this stressful. When I mention my deli counter frustrations to others they often ask if my grocery store has a self-order kiosk. The simple answer is yes, they do, but then it becomes an issue of quality control (what can I say? I like things a certain way.). My biggest issue with these machines is that no matter what thickness you choose you wind up with a medium cut of lunch meat. Not once when I have selected “sliced thin” has my order come out that way. It’s like the people working the counter figure that if you’re too busy to stand there and place the order yourself, then you definitely won’t have time to check if your order came out the way that you asked. Having to check the order defeats the time-saving purpose, but getting home and realizing that it’s wrong is far worse. So what’s a shopper to do? Lately I’ve just been shopping later in the evenings when the store is less crowded. Grocery shopping can be a very nice experience when the store is empty, but that doesn’t solve the problem for the rest of the world. What do you think is the best way to bring order back to the deli counter?