How to Properly Use the Grocery Belt Divider

The fact that the employees at my local grocery store know me and ask where I’ve been if I don’t stop in every couple days gives you an indication of how often I’m at the store.

But don’t worry.

This won’t be about how watching some people use the self-checkout is like watching fish ride a bike or how people still don’t know how to go up and down an aisle. 

No, this is about the plastic grocery belt dividers.


I enjoy the grocery belt divider for the practicality and simplicity it provides.

Placed on the belt, it divides my order from the one in front and the one in back. There should be no confusion as to where one order starts and one order ends. If for some reason confusion does arise, it’s not hard to clarify and say, “Oh, that’s not my stuff.”

However, there are still people who are entirely too concerned that the cashier will confuse their things with the next persons, protectively creating about two feet of extra “empty” grocery belt space between their order and the divider.

Intercom announcement to this person ahead of me: I did not load up my cart and assume that I could sneak 25 items to the end of your order, dupe you into paying for them and then follow you out to the parking lot to retrieve said items.

But with that said, I do have an issue with the people behind me from time to time. While I don’t exhibit the behavior mentioned above and graciously place the divider at the end of my order, this is apparently not enough for some people. No, instead of waiting for the cashier to move the belt along, they insist on using every single square inch of belt space up to the plastic divider.

This I can overlook, as it’s their own bread they’re squishing in an effort to unload their cart at warp speed.

What I can’t overlook is when they insist on using every single square inch of personal space past the plastic divider, creeping up closer to me with their cart and sighing so heavily at the apparent lack of cashier expediency that it blows my coupons off the checkout stand.

Intercom announcement to this person behind of me: Regardless of how close you creep up or how many items you throw on the belt, you will be next—after me.

If you continue to creep up, I will pretend to go through my coupon keeper for an extraordinary amount of time, chit chat with the cashier and lift up the plastic divider and put it back down repeatedly under the guise of making room for a pack of gum I am actually just using as a prop to piss you off.

But because I’m all about solutions, I propose that instead of the grocery belt divider, we install a plastic divider in the LINE to keep the person behind me from creeping up and invading my bubble.

It could be like a shower curtain or one of those things you walk through at sporting events that simply lifts up and down when appropriate.

Now I realize this plastic divider could be symbolic of the way our society is divided and that unity can only be achieved when we remove these barriers, blah, blah, blah. People who think that are insane. I’m all about being friendly, but we need personal space—on the grocery belt and in the line.

Intercom announcement: Until they install these new plastic people dividers, please just back your shit up.

Unless, of course, you would like to pay for my produce. In that case, I welcome you with open arms and an open grocery belt.

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19 responses to “How to Properly Use the Grocery Belt Divider

  1. Take your time. Impatient folks will fret waiting, yet the lesson is likely lost on them.

  2. LOL!!! So true. I too think we are doing so much ‘socializing’ that we forget how important privacy is.

  3. Yes!!!!!! What the heck are they doing?? Those people who think their food and time is more important than mine, it kills me. I am all for plastic people dividers!! And yes I’m going to stand here and put my bank card back in the slot it belongs in instead of throwing it in my purse so I don’t “bother” anyone by finishing my purchase.

  4. Yeah, I always go in front of my cart so my cart acts as a personal space buffer. Sometimes they push up so much that they then need to back up so i can push the cart back to get to the credit card machine. #noregrets.

  5. Hilarious as always. I suggest the plastic divides for people become a thing.

  6. I read this earlier today and, as always, thought you were hilariously on target. Little did I know that I would be going to the store later today and encounter the worst kind of checkout offender. My wife was unloading our cart and while it was still half full, the woman behind us put up a divider and started unloading her cart. I kept glaring at her and pushing the divider and her stuff back while my wife scrambled to get the rest of our food in the small space left. Bring on the shower curtain dividers!!!!!

  7. So true, so very, very true.

  8. Personal space… I remember hearing people talk about that. There definitely isn’t any of that in stock at any of the groceries I’ve visited.

  9. I always try to leave a few inches of space between the end of the order of the person ahead of me before I put the divider down so that when I start doing my crazy OCD Tetris-like organizing of all my items onto the belt, I don’t run the risk of intruding on Before Me Person’s space. I call it the Banana Buffer. I don’t even usually buy bananas…I just think it sounds like a good name. Also, I just realized it sounds vaguely porn-related. WIN.

  10. This is hilarious. One time, I had to tell a guy in the grocery line that he was too close. I told him “If I can actually smell your breath…then you are too close to me”. And HE was offended. WTF?

  11. I havent ever had this problem, but it definitely sounds frustrating. Us Brits love a civilised queue.

  12. So thankful that someone, especially you, is addressing this major issue sweeping grocery shopping across the nation. The behinders are simply uncooth.

  13. Well shit, you could be on to something. Do an article on fences next please. Let’s get to the bottom of this, together.

  14. I like this plastic people divider, especially when I’m in line for something.
    The other day, I actually felt the hair on the back on my neck move when the person behind me heaved a great big sigh. Too close people, too close.

  15. Why is it that people who usually are perfectly capable of saying “Excuse me” can only resort to sighing heavily when you’re blocking their way in a store aisle, for example?? I’ve never been able to understand that. “Excuse me” is such an easy solution to so many problems! Use it, people!

  16. I say the same thing to myself on the road: “Please just back your shit up.” Can we get a buffer between cars creeping down the road at 0.1mph? We’re all going to be as late as the car next to us.

  17. As long as the person isn’t in my personal space [arms length which comes from working in psych with violent patients], I have no problem. There may be a very good reason why the person loaded the belt to the line and tries to get as much as possible on while you are there. For example, they may be handicapped and are afraid they will slow up the people behind them or simply trying to get it on before their back gives out from pain. I’m not a mind reader. I won’t fuss over piddly stuff but I will fuss if you are too close to me physically because too close means you can be sucker punched.

    It does remind me of my favorite book tho… It was from the Serge Storms series. The woman in front of Serge is fussing about paying for her lottery tickets with pennies and Serge finally yells “Listen you Crisco based life form, pay and get out.” Of course that was right before he finished his coffee, paid for it and went bouncing down the highway on top of cars reciting all the historic places in Florida…

  18. Yes! That perfectly describes an all too common situation!!

  19. Thank you for the suggestion: “never breaking eye contact with the person behind me when putting down the grocery belt divider”. I use the dividers and I have been tolerant of those moving the divider from the 2-3 inches I leave behind my orders. I stand firm when people want me to move up as the person in front still needs to pay, giving them the privacy I appreciate myself. I have had to turn the signature screen or whisper to the clerk when people stand too close. I look for opportunities to help others while shopping and observant of my own personal actions.
    But three days ago my tolerance evaporated. As usual, I had placed more fragile and light weight items at the end of my order to secure them and for ease of bagging, then the divider. I had seen a woman without a cart walk up behind me, holding some flat items but not struggling. During check out I looked back over the belt and saw a few items from the end of my order, like my bread and greeting cards, were now on top of the middle of my groceries and bar moved. I thought about what to do, I take great care in shopping to reach behind on each shelf for undamaged/unman handled items (germs and re-shelved items), and to stack and group items on the belt to conserve space and for packing efficiency. So why would I want someone to squish my bread and toss my cards? I stepped back and decided to act in kind. Without a word or glance, I used my forearm to push back all the next person’s items and replaced mine. As I left the store, the woman that was behind me passed me and with an almost inaudible voice said, “I’m sorry”. So maybe one person is more aware of her actions without a hash word spoken or anger, just holding my own ground. Although if it were to happen again, I am considering asking them to request help as it is obvious they needed it and I would help anyway I can.
    Thank you for this opportunity to express my opinion. Be kind to others and observe personal space.

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