Joe and the Line Buster

Joe Wilson is always good for a quick touch, so I happened to be outside his Bovine Coprolite Hardware store last Monday when he was rolling down the shutters.
“What’s this I hear about you breaking up lines?” I asked as a conversation starter.
Joe chuckled, “That’s my new line buster device. It‘s a little radio frequency doohickey that lets me go into a long line and prescan their products. That way, when they get to the register, all the clerk has to do is punch up their order number and take their money.”
“I don’t know about all this new-fangled stuff,” I demurred. “Spendin’ all that money when there’s better things to do with it, like havin’ a drink with your friends.”
“You thirsty, Clem?” he asked, “I can afford to stand you one.”
He continued once we were comfortable ensconced at Bill’s Bar. “See, the thing is, I was getting pretty jammed on weekends, what with the popularity of that Tobacco Chaw target practice and everything. People would peek in, see the lines, and they’d turn right around and go down to slick Bob Lowe’s depot center and try to find it there. Once they get there, why some of them never come back.”
Joe took a sip and continued, “I’d even have people come into my store, fill up a cart, then just abandon it rather than stand in line. There was even an article here in the Livermore Post-Daily Gazette Journal about waiting. Some folks from the AP polling organization had a study saying that half the consumers would never come back to a store that made them wait too long.”
Talking is thirsty work, so I took the opportunity to order another one for Joe. And myself, of course.
“So it’s a big problem, huh?” I asked.
“Yep,” Joe said, “I figure that I was losing about 10 transactions each weekend day.At an average of $25 per transaction, that’s, uh….”
One thing I was good at, was figuring money stuff. “About 4 grand a month,” I said.
“Yeah, that’s about right,” Joe agreed, “At first, I thought I’d have to add a new point of sale station. But, heck, those things cost money. What’s worse, I’d have to take out my skunk cleaning products display to make room. And that’d raise a real stink.”
“About this time, Trevor the snake oil salesman came slinking around. You know he sticks around like Red Pine sap in August unless you buy something from him. So I tell him I need a solution, figuring to stump him. Well, he jus grins and does this.”
Joe stood up, cocked his arms out silly-looking, then does a quick draw and pulls out a Star-trekkie phaser thingy.
“Wow,” I said, “That’s Symbol’s new MC 9090 RF terminal. With a 3.8 inch color screen and 53 big keys, it’s sweet to use. Rugged, too. They dropped that baby 36 times from 6 feet over concrete and it still worked.”
Joe looked at me funny-like then sat down to continue his drink. His story too.
“I already had the basic Radio Frequency stuff, so I buy the thing and sign up for that there Line Buster software, and it’s been going great guns ever since. Whenever I see a line starting to build up, I grab this bad boy and start clearing it out. On slow days, I can use it for receiving and spot inventory checks.”
“The best thing is, I get to talk to my customers. You know, usually I don’t get much of a chance. If they come up to me on the floor, they’re wanting to know where I keep left handed spanners or the best way to sharpen spikes on an Iron Maiden. “
“When I start breaking up a line, folks are real appreciative. They look at the line and figure they’re stuck there til Christmas. Then I show up and they start flying through. While I’m scanning, I can drop a few words with them, or recommend a different type of lapidary powder, or run a price check without holding anyone up. It’s one of the best buys I ever made.”
Well, I agreed with him and we made to head out. I let him pay this time. After all, he’d just saved himself a pot of money.