THERE'S NO escaping it anymore. Television may soon be coming to a supermarket near you. This after it has penetrated the classroom, the beauty salon, the doctor's waiting room.
Ted Turner's 1991 plan to design a new TV program service consisting of eight minutes of news, sports, business, weather and consumer information and commercials aimed at shoppers in the checkout line is just another example of good old American ingenuity.
What it says about our nation's attention span is more than a little frightening.
Apparently, we can't even wait in line for a few minutes without becoming bored.
Personally, I'd prefer it if the supermarket idea never got rolling.
Shoppers should spend those minutes doing really important things, like keeping their kids away from the candy and reading a tabloid headline about the latest celebrity who allegedly put a voodoo hex on his former marriage partner. More importantly, customers might do something really thoughtful while they are in line -- like get prepared to pay for the groceries.
It always amazes me that a person can place two carts full of groceries on the belt, watch the checkout person charge him for each item and not make a move toward his wallet or purse.
It is as if these customers don't realize they are going to have to pay for the groceries.
I usually want to hit them with their own purses. At this point, they are wasting my time as well as their own.
When the cashier announces the bill is $101.83, these customers invariably begin searching for the money, down to the 83 cents, of course.
We're talking valuable seconds, maybe minutes here.
When television joins the checkout line, I imagine things are going to get a lot worse.
I can just see it now, a customer telling a waiting cashier, "Can you please wait until the sports scores are over?"
I join my colleague Janice Okun in protesting the planned move. But I also realize that we don't stand a prayer.
In fact, I can see the future of TV expanding everywhere.
The most logical extension is the, eh, bathroom, where eight minutes can really go quickly. This thought, however, frightens me. After all, it could be a severe blow to the newspaper industry.
I'm sure Turner won't stop there. Where else do I see TV?
ATM machines: Have you ever driven past the Marine Midland automatic teller machine at Elmwood and Utica during the weekend?
This place is often mobbed with a line out the door. It may take 15 minutes for these consumers to get their money. Presumably, they'll be willing to spend it on advertised items, too.
Gas stations: Many self-service stations can have lines of cost-conscious consumers. After all, they'll wait for several minutes to save a few pennies. A good group to pitch to.
Ted's hot dog stand: On a hot summer or spring day, we're talking 15 to 20 minutes easy. And many of Ted's consumers are savings-conscious. They usually bring coupons.
Golf courses: On a warm spring or summer day on one of the area's nicest courses, a 10-minute wait per hole can be routine. A 10-minute sports report would help the time pass more quickly.
Post office during Christmas: A 10-to-15-minute wait easy.
Bowling alleys: I went bowling for the first time in about 15 years several Saturdays ago and waited 30 minutes for an alley. Another perfect place to air sports-oriented news or a country-and-western music concert.
Concert lines: I'm told young concert-goers can wait hours to get tickets for their newest heroes. Turner would be more likely to get their attention here than in the classroom.
Bills ticket office: This, of course, presumes that the Bills are winning. Pool halls: Now that it is yuppie entertainment, 15-to-30-minute waits may become routine.
Movie theater lobbies: Have you ever tried in suburbia to get into a popular movie on Saturday night? And this crowd has great demographics for advertisers.
McDonald's in the Soviet Union: People apparently wait for hours. But they don't have a lot of expendable rubies.
City Court: The wait to be arraigned can also last for hours. However, this group is unlikely to be sought by advertisers. Which brings to mind the classic line relayed to Rupert Murdoch, who was looking for advertisers when he owned the New York Post.
Supposedly, one retailer said, "But Rupert, your readers are our shoplifters."