Sunday, August 13, 2006


Above every register at Target is that register’s number. Each cashier has two light switches. The “Bottom Light” controls the register number. The “Top Light” controls the beacon above it.

The Bottom Light is easy. If it is on, the number is lit up and the register is open. If it is off, the register is closed. It doesn’t matter where the cashier is, how many people are in line, or how many items you have (Express Lanes are a topic for another day).

So, let’s say there are two registers. One has its Bottom Light on, there is no line, and the cashier is standing in the lane straightening things up. The other has its light off, there are two people in line, and the cashier is ringing up purchases.

The first lane is the one you want. Open and no line, versus waiting in line to be told you have to move. This might seem obvious, but day after day, guest after guest makes the opposite choice. Now you know.

But wait, you might say. That register is clearly open, because the cashier is serving guests.

What happens with that is: when we close our lanes, we cannot simply kick out anyone who is already in the line. On the other hand, if we do not turn off out light until the lane is clear, we will be there forever. So, we shut off our lights, serve the people currently in our line, and do not allow anyone to join the line. People sneak in, of course, but they are not welcome, so please do not do that.

Now, the Top Light. The Top Light is a signal to the GSTL (Guest Service Team Leader) that the cashier needs help. If the Top Light is on, there’s a problem. It could be anything. The Top Light goes on if the register needs pennies, if an item needs a price check, if there’s a dispute with a Guest, if the cashier is about to take a break… pretty much anything. Because of this, if two lines are the same length and one has the Top Light on, go with the other. There might be a problem that could hold up the line – especially since the GSTLs are very busy and can take several minutes to even notice the Top Light.

To summarize: a register with the Bottom Light on and the Top Light off is open. A register with both lights on is open but potentially troubled. A register with both lights off is closed (regardless of its activity). A register with the Bottom Light off but the Top Light on is weird, but not unheard of (for instance, a cashier about to go on break might need a price check).

Hopefully, this will make your shopping experience a bit smoother.

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