Queuing For A Pickup During Extraordinary Times

During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in the USA, while I was beginning work on Project Gibson, I needed a couple extra parts to go with the salvaged motherboard and processor that made the heart of the system. In particular, I needed some PCIe SATA controllers and SATA cables to connect the stack of drives that I was about to install into my new 13-bay tower case. Micro Center has been my local go-to parts house since I got my first PC, so I figured that I’d take advantage of their in-store pickup program that I often use when I need a very specific part.

“Flatten the Curve” lockdowns were still in place, but had been lifted for “essential retail” outfits (including computer/technology stores like Micro Center and Best Buy), so the store was open for in-person shopping, albeit with significant occupancy limitations. Naturally, I assumed that an outfit like Micro Center would have their idiomatic ducks in a row regarding their first-in-class pickup program (one that had been in place for years before COVID forced the concept upon the entire retail sector)–perhaps they would have an outside counter setup and a runner to go inside and locate purchases?

Apparently, their logistics managers weren’t that insightful.

What they did have set up was a virtual queuing system that allowed customers to wait from the relative comfort and safety of their own vehicles. Everyone waited in the same queue to enter the building whether they would be a quick pickup or a lengthy browsing excursion. Once inside the store, I joined another queue to pick up my online purchase! The entire system seemed to create more problems than it solved, but after a lengthy browsing session (wherein I picked up a couple of impulse buys–perhaps the system was implemented by marketing to encourage more shopping?) I did pick up my parts and I could finally begin assembly on my “pandemic project.”

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