Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Belt

Do you know how the conveyor belt moves forward? It may seem like magic, but I know you’re too smart to fall for that explanation. You may think I control it with a little switch you can’t see. Some have guessed that there’s a scale that detects the weight and stops it when it does.

Actually, there is a little switch, but I’m not supposed to touch it. I’m not sure why, actually, but never mind. Let’s just say that, when I’m ringing up your purchases, that isn’t the mechanism in question.

It’s actually a laser, sort of. See, on one side of the front of the belt is a light, and on the other side is a sensor. When the sensor no longer detects the light, the belt stops. When it does, the belt restarts.

That means that if you place very thin, flat items, or clear items, on the belt, the light might go right over or through it. So the belt doesn’t stop and stuff piles up and gets messy. Solution? Place these things on top of or next to more solid items.

That also means that if you move stuff away from the front of the belt, the belt will just keep pulling it forward. Your options there are: wait for the belt to time out and stop on its own, or let it go up to the front so I can reach it.

But speaking of stacking, I have a request. See, I’m not a tall person. My arms are not long. Now if you buy, for example, a bookshelf, the box could easily take up the entire length of the belt. That’s fine. And you might stack your other purchases on top of the long box. That’s fine, too.

But I can’t reach the things at the very back of the belt because my arms are short. They won’t move up, because the sensor light is blocked. And I can’t move the box forward without disrupting – and perhaps breaking – your other items. In other words, without help, I cannot scan your items. So if you’re going to stack things on top of long boxes, please keep them stacked near the front of the belt, within my arm span. And if you can’t do that, please be watchful so you can push the stuff on the back up. You want to be out of the store quickly, and I want to help you (and keep my productivity rating high). Let’s make this easy for both of us.

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