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Tis a puzzlement

The song, “Tis a Puzzlement” from “The King and I,” comes to mind whenever I encounter something that makes no sense to me. Here’s a potpourri of things that I fail to understand:

Why do banks and grocery stores have six to eight teller/checkout stations when only a couple of them are ever open? I recently waited in line at a bank while the only teller on duty was enjoying a lengthy personal conversation with a customer. While the waiting line kept getting longer, other employees would appear briefly, getting our hopes up, but then disappear. Just as we thought Chatty Cathy was completing the transaction, there was a machine malfunction and she had to go to another station and start over. At this point a man, who had obviously reached the end of his patience, knocked on one of the office cubicles asking for service and another teller magically appeared.

As I waited in yet another line at another bank on another day, I wondered whose decision it was to have only two tellers working on the last day of the year ... one of them being “in training.” I’m not knowledgeable in bank management but it would seem predictable that this particular Monday, between a Sunday and the New Year holiday, would be a tad busier than usual and require at least a third teller. Glancing over to the office cubicle area, there seemed to be a surplus of personnel ... and a good bit of pre-New Year’s Eve hilarity going on.

Finally it was my turn — with the trainee (who was actually doing fine.) As she and her supervisor processed my fairly simple transaction, I noticed the smiley-face note posted on her window that said “I’m being trained. Thank you for your patience.” Observing the long line behind me, I hoped that both she and her trainer’s stress levels would not spiral out of control before the day was over. They were the ones who would need patience.

I’ve also been in long queues in grocery stores when I feared my ice cream would melt and the bananas would produce fruit flies before another checker was called. The traffic jam of carts extending into the food aisles should have been a clue.

So wouldn’t banks and stores save a significant amount of money and space by limiting teller and checkout areas if they’re only going to use a small portion of them? Just wondering.

And why do businesses go to the added expense of having “compact” lettered on parts of their parking lots that no one pays any attention to? Many times I return to my compact-size Jetta (parked in a compact space) to find it sandwiched between a pickup and a van, making the backing-out process extremely challenging. More than once I’ve had to get into the driver’s seat via the passenger side as there was not enough room to open the driver’s door. I realize there are times when these may be the only available parking spaces, but usually I see plenty of others vacant.

The post office is another place to while away time in a waiting line and has its own set of mysteries. I’m still wondering why my box of Christmas gifts mailed to Eden Prairie, Minn., well ahead of the Dec. 15 deadline, ended up in Dallas, Texas on Christmas Day. Fortunately, it did make its way back to Minnesota and arrived a few days later. Thanks to my purchase of a delivery confirmation (which experience has taught me is a necessity), I could track its travels. Why it went from St. Paul on Dec. 20 to Fort Worth and then Dallas is unexplainable.

These are all petty ponderings on my part and, in the bigger picture, are mere pebbles in the stream of life. I’m sure there are logical reasons involved that I am not aware of; but, for “The King and I” — “tis a puzzlement.”

Jo Ann Parsons is a member of the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.




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