The “Silverman Effect”


The “Silverman Effect”

I experienced the “Silverman Effect” the other day.

This is something which occurs on a regular basis. It happens in banks, on highways, and last night, at IKEA.

I was standing in line at the cashier. At IKEA, there are two types of cashiers, the self-serve and the one with a person doing the item scanning. I decided to stand in the line with a human doing the addition; although I go to the self-serve queue at Metro for my groceries, I had a case of cold feet. With so many people checking out, I didn’t want to get stuck holding people up, it being my first time at IKEA’s self-serve check-out.

As I stood in line right behind a couple trying to deal with two very tired sons who squirmed and whined incessantly, I couldn’t help but notice that the self-serving line just to my right was moving quite quickly.

Well, why not? There are four cashes where there normally would only be one. Also, an IKEA employee was there to help expedite the check-out process.

Gosh, I thought, perhaps I should be in that line. After all, can scanning a few objects be that complicated? Still, I stuck to my guns and watched in envy as my neighbouring shoppers moved quickly ahead of the stagnant ones in our line.

It took a lot to move me. Sometimes I’m forthright, sometimes I’m not. Then the “Silverman Effect” occurred.

I moved over to the self-serve line. Immediately, it stopped moving. And stopped. And stopped.

I looked to my left and noticed where I would have been had I stayed in my original line. Way up ahead!

The effect happens, too, on the highway. When I espy a ‘winning’ lane, I’ll take it (it’s rare that I’m so mellow that I won’t take advantage of passing all the suckers in the slow lane). Very often, too often, as soon as I do this, the winning lane starts losing and cars start passing me like crazy in the lane I was just in!


Ultimately, at IKEA, a new self-serve lane opened up and I pushed through my old one and made it to robot cash. I still had to ask for help with a couple of gift cards but the staff at IKEA, even near closing time on a Tuesday evening, are super helpful and I ended up hefting two far-too-heavy-for-the-price clothes dressers into the trunk of my car.

Now, like a university student with too much time on his hands before classes begin, I’m trying to put them together. That’s another “Silverman Effect”, best to leave for another time.



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