Get in Line!

Get in Line.

If only it were a simple click. A four digit pin. A password and a thank you for payment on the screen. No, in Brazil, paying a bill is a treat. To buy something simple, say some craft supplies for a project with the kids in Aningas, takes a minimum of five sales professionals to escort you safely through the process of choosing, securing, recounting, paying for, and getting your items wrapped and ready to take out the door. Pull up a chair, this will take a while.

They have this method that North American stores should consider adopting. Pay close attention: the pre-payment receipt. Once you’ve picked out said art supplies, they are carefully checked, gone over, counted and entered into the computer. Once that’s done a paper receipt is printed. But you still haven’t paid. No fear. That’s still to come.

You’re now authorized to take those items and head to the actual register. Here the items will be recounted and checked against your paper receipt. There they will be reentered into the computer, this time with prices, and tallied for your total. Now you can pay.

While you pay, salesperson number five (perhaps six, depending on the quantity of your items) is now checking those against your receipt and carefully wrapping each item to put into bags for convenient handling.

Now you have a final receipt to take with you for your personal records. Don’t worry, shredding not necessary–the ink will fade within six months of purchase, for your financial security.

Checking out at the grocery store is a treat too. Employers are thoughtful, and go so far as to provide seating for their employees at each register. This gives everything a more relaxed, slow-paced feel which is good for morale. And if you’re a bagger, feel free to take a break in the middle of an order. Walk around, shake some hands. Come back when you feel rested and ready to continue. We’ll wait.

Despite these pleasant day to day routines, the most progressive, the most time-saving is the door to door service offered by the alarm company, the internet supplier, the power company, etc. And by door to door, we mean your personal opportunity to meet each supplier, shake their hand, check out their office, and hand them the bill in person. None of this over the phone, online, mail-in nonsense. How impersonal.

To pay your monthly phone bill, pull up to the shop where you bought your phone and hop in line. It helps if you’re over sixty, or at least if you look over sixty. The “older and wiser” skip right up to the front. For the rest of us, it’s a great opportunity to meet new people. At said store, the store-keepers will present you with a bill. Don’t pay it here, that would deny you the chance for more mingling. Get back in your car, a quick jaunt across the city to the bank that handles such transactions, and lucky you, another line for meeting neighbors. If it’s a busy time, which is usually is, you’ll get to mingle here for quite some time before you get to the front. And be sure to thank them for their exceptional service!

Happy shopping! And bill-paying!

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