A slow-moving cash counter queue at supermarkets is something many customers would dread, but not for this one bunch of customers and cashiers in the Netherlands. Recently a photo posted by the Instagram page- Good News Movement- introduced social media users to the Dutch practice of "Kletskassa." This practice enables a special checkout lane that allows people to engage in a conversation with the cashier and help combat loneliness.
Many senior citizens prefer these slower checkout lanes as a relief from their mundane routines, and it has helped thousands with five minutes of kindness. Here's why this trend became popularised among the Dutch and why it needs to reflect in other systems as well;
One Against Loneliness
Kletskassa initiative is part of the action plan of the National Coalition Against Solitude, created by the Ministry of Health and Welfare of the Netherlands, along with about twenty major organisations in and around the country. This institution addresses the issue of social isolation that plagues part of the population and attempts to provide a space for them to interact and create interpersonal connections. It has a range of campaigns, and the Kletskassa has proven to be among the most effective ways to make the elders feel a little less lonely. Speaking about the initiative, Dutch politician Hugo de Jonge said, "Everyone can do something to break the loneliness of others."
According to Statista, over two million people in the Netherlands are over the age of 65, and at least 33 per cent have reported feeling at least moderately lonely. This is the age when they tend to feel lonely as their children might have left for better jobs, and their closest friends would have succumbed to problems faced in old age. All it would often take is a smile and a kind "How are you doing today?" to make an elderly feel seen and heard. Addressing the need for such a system, the dutch established the Kletskassa, which means a network of chat boxes in various spaces such as supermarket chains.
This would help the elderly, or even anyone else, to engage in a moment of conversation at the time of payment of their purchase. The first Kletskassa had reportedly opened in the town of Vlijmen, where the recorded response was highly positive that the company made plans to create 200 such lanes across the country. There were also "chat corners" introduced, where local residents could gather for a cup of coffee and a little conversation.
5 Minutes Of Kindness To Make Someone's Day
The Instagram post, which has now gone viral, spoke of the Kletskassa's set across the dutch supermarket chain, Jumbo. They have special slow-paced checkout lines installed in more than 200 stores and have made the day of thousands of people. While it had initially started to combat loneliness among the elderly, it is open to all ages who can benefit from it. The post about the chat checkout program under the 'One Against Loneliness' initiative received over three lakh likes and three thousand comments.
While it is undeniable that the goodwill initiative could help many, the comment section reflects why it matters. Many users conveyed that loneliness is a bitter part of life that almost everyone faces, particularly the elderly. "Take time out of your day to engage people in conversation. You never know what a 5 minute convo can do for a person's spirit," commented a user in this regard.
Speaking from personal experiences, many users narrated how their parents' day(s) were made with random interactions with kind people. "My mom stops and talks to everyone we run into at the grocery store, bars, the movies, etc. When I was younger, it made me impatient (and some days still can), but she always says, "What if I'm the first person who smiled at them all day? The first person who talked to them! It makes a great difference."
Yet another user wrote that her mother lived with her family, but she treasured the people she met and often spoke with at the supermarket. "They even bought her a present at Christmas. She looked forward to her morning chat every day," she added. This is the impact a five-minute conversation leaves behind on people, and that's often all it takes to bring a smile on someone's toughest days.
A few other comments that also shed light on this factor were from a cashier who worked at a grocery store and a nurse working with the elderly. The former said she had the chance to interact with many senior citizens as a cashier, and they continued to hold on to that bond dearly even after she left her job at the store. Speaking on the same lines, the nurse commented that she had to take care of senior citizens during the pandemic, and within a short time of their interactions, they considered her as their family.
Loneliness is not always an age-related concept; it can affect anyone, anywhere, at any time. Even the briefest of friendships and relations built as they go could help one in unimaginable ways. The Instagram post and lessons on Kletskassa are reminders to be kind and that it takes just a few minutes of your busy schedule to help someone out of their loneliness.
Also Read: How This Online Platform Is Bringing Country's Senior Citizens Together During Pandemic