There’s nothing worse than queuing up for too long at the supermarket, however one scientist has worked out the scientific art to avoiding large shopping line queues and is sharing it with us all!
According to ‘queuing theory’, the best line to join is something known as the serpentine line. This is one long winding line in which a number is called to send you to the next available register. It prevents one person from holding up an entire line if they take too long with their shopping.
Without a serpentine line, queuing theory claims that the odds are stacked against you in picking the fasting line. For instance, if there are three lines in a supermarket, delays will occur randomly at different registers. This means you only have one in three chance of being in the fastest line.
Despite this, many people have a natural aversion to picking the serpentine line because of the perception that it takes longer.
If there isn’t a serpentine line, then head for the left.
Raphael Rosen reports that because around 90 per cent of the population is right-handed, and so they tend to naturally head to the right.
‘This may be an old wives’ tale, but if you’re at a theme park with long lines, heading left is worth a try,’ he said in his book, Math Geek: From Klein Bottles to Chaos Theory, a Guide to the Nerdiest Math Facts, Theorems, and Equations.
And while it may not seem that way, waiting in line may not be such a bad thing. Scientists have previously found that people who queue place a higher value on the goods they are waiting for.
So there you have it – your annoying shopping dilemma solved!
Tell us, which line do you head towards?