I’m really sensitive about how I utilize my time. When it feels like my time is being wasted, I immediately become defensive. Case in point, the time spent ordering lunch earlier today at a new grocery store with an attached café. I wasn’t quite sure what to order so I walked around the various displays and then spotted a sign on top of one of the counters for the “Chef’s Special,” an entrée with two sides for $6.99. The café had so many different things to choose from so I got in line after ogling the cold and hot foods on display and settled on a bacon ranch chicken breast with a baked potato and Caesar salad.
I was pretty happy with my choice and when I got to the register, I ordered the Chef’s Special. The young lady behind the counter informed me I was in the wrong line, and pointed me in the right direction to order food. OK, so I moved over to another line which was apparently the line for hot food.
There was one person in front of me so I patiently waited my turn and then proceeded to once again order the Chef’s Special. The man behind the counter asked me what I would like and I relayed my choices for entrée and sides. Chicken bacon ranch, check. Baked potato was a different story. He informed me that even though they were displayed side by side, the baked potato would be an additional $2.50. I was slightly irritated so I went ahead and asked him which sides came standard with the Chef’s Special. He rattled some of the choices and I stopped him when he got to mac n’ cheese. I love mac n’ cheese so that worked.
This grocery store has a beautiful, well-stocked salad bar, so I asked if a Caesar salad would count as the other side. He promptly responded no, the salad bar was by the pound so if I wanted a salad, I would have to pay for it separately. At 6.99/lb that wasn’t a very appealing option. Meanwhile I’m taking all this time to order food, my husband is dutifully waiting with his sushi so he can pay and we can have lunch.
I finally chose some mashed potatoes as the other side, and went to stand by my husband as the chicken was warmed up. There was a line at the initial cashier, so I waited while 3-4 people paid for their food. My husband paid for our meals and the person behind the counter finally handed me a plate. We walked over to the seating area and realized I didn’t have any utensils (my husband was using chopsticks). I hunted all over the place trying to find something to eat my food with and when I couldn’t find anything, went back to the checkout counter to ask for a knife and fork.
By the time I rejoined my husband, I wasn’t even really in the mood to eat. What should have been a fairly straightforward interaction took a lot longer, robbing me of time I could have spent enjoying my meal. All of the odd hurdles this store placed on getting food (no not that one, we have two separate lines and neither of them are clearly marked), made eating there a hassle, and more importantly, a waste of my time.
I know this is one very small issue in the grand scheme of things but it’s still a good example of how ones precious time can easily be squandered in seemingly innocuous moments. It was only 15 minutes, but over a week, month or lifetime, how long does that turn out to be? I don’t have an answer, I just know that even 15 minutes of my time is too long to let go to waste.