1. It’s the mall exit from the limited access highway. There’s still some local driving to do before even getting to the mall. So getting to work is going to take longer than they had planned.

  2. Take longer to get to work, presumably; maybe take longer to return something (at another store at the mall).

  3. Yes, she works at Grumbles, but even people who work retail have lives, just like normal people. She has to return a gift on her day off, just like normal people. She has to wait in line, just like normal people. The line starts at the exchange counter, winds outside the store, around the corner, through the parking lot, out to the exit from the freeway. The wait in line may be longer than they thought.
    What’s not to understand?

  4. “What’s not to understand?”

    The “exit” sign in the cartoon suggests they’re trying to LEAVE the mall, not GET TO the mall.

  5. I was going to point out that in-store returns are becoming a thing of the past as Amazon et al. (is there an “et al.” for Amazon?) replace brick and mortar stores. Then I remembered that one of the themes in the strip is how the brick and mortar stores are turning into not much more than the package depot for their stores’ internet orders. So within a couple of years this strip will be taking place in a shipping booth.

  6. There are a couple of customers who have become recurring characters. Are we sure the woman in the passenger seat isn’t one of those?

    I’m not sure what the problem is that the question in the headline means to be identifying. Maybe it’s not clear that “line starts here” goes at the BACK of a line.

    It’s not uncommon to have traffic conditions result in a backed up line of vehicles in the right lane of the highway waiting to take the exit. The incongruity here is that the highway department would know to attribute it to returns at Grumbels and say so on a sign.

  7. You were obviously referring to Saturday’s RETAIL strip . . .

    And for me, the ‘et al’ for amazon.com is walmart.com, altho not as often as formerly because WM still charges for shipping under a certain amount, wheres with Prime, amazon doesn’t. And I do a LOT of online shopping, so Prime is definitely worth it. (And I think Hubby uses some of the other features, whatever they are, altho I don’t bother.)

  8. I also find that amazon.com, for the most part, doesn’t charge for shipping returns. Oddly enough, I once had a choice of PAYING for return shipping, or bringing the return to Kohl’s for free . . . I thought that odd. Luckily, Hubby shops at Kohl’s, so did the return the one time I had to choose this option.

  9. Interesting. I had to read the header four times before I could understand what CIDU Bill was confused about. Why should it be hard to understand that the joke is that the return lines are so long the begin the moment you get off the freeway to go to the mall? Sure, it’s not *literally* likely to happen but… that’s why it’s a joke.

    We could have had an amusing “Why would I want to cook houseplants in my crock pot” moment over “Why does the line start at the exit”
    “It’s an exaggeration; the lines so long it begins as soon as you go to the mall”
    “But shouldn’t it being at the *entrance*?”
    “It does! See it says ‘mall exit’!”
    “But wouldn’t it be funnier if the line began when people are coming into the mall”
    “This is funnier because it happens *before* then. It happens at the very point of the exit”
    “But it’s not funny if they are leaving the mall”
    “Of course not. That’s why the cartoonist had it starting at the exit!”

  10. Appearently I’m not the only one confused, but unlike KenK and Mitch4 I seemed to have figured what was confusing Bill.

    So to spell it out: The freeway offramp to *ENTER* the mall is marked as “Mall *EXIT*”. So if you mistakenly assume that means you are *leaving* the mall, rather than *entering* the mall the joke makes no sense.

    As I said, it took me four times to see that “Mall Exit” could mean an egress rather than an access.

  11. Woozy, you’re correct that some of us missed seeing the problem with “Mall Exit” as the source of Bill’s confusion in the headline. A bit oddly, thought I didn’t think to apply it that way, I actually did immediately notice the problem, saying to myself Gee instead of “Mall Exit” they should say “Exit to Mall” or “This exit for Mall”. But didn’t take the next step.

    Also I should retract my suggestion that the passenger might be a customer. She’s pretty clearly the employee named Crystal, though her hair is usually curlier or wavier.

  12. If I were on a highway, a sign reading “Mall Exit” would make sense in context. But without that context (it’s not clear they’re on a highway) , the logical assumption is that it’s the exit from the mall.

    We discussed this the other day. I think: It shouldn’t be the reader’s job to mentally rewrite an awkwardly written phrase so we can figure out what the artist meant.

    Unless we choose to follow Funky Winkerbean, obviously.

  13. I always thought it strange to take an exit to get ON the highway, not just OFF the highway. Things make more sense in Germany, as I learned reading these comments, where you have an Einfahrt and an Ausfahrt.

  14. “If I were on a highway, a sign reading “Mall Exit” would make sense in context. But without that context (it’s not clear they’re on a highway) , the logical assumption is that it’s the exit from the mall.”

    The Green coloring and it being on the other side of a guard rail was enough for me. And it’s not that I thought “Hmm, if I get then everyone else should”. It’s that it never occurred to me that it could be interpreted any other way. Even with bill saying “the line begins at the *EXIT*?” I just couldn’t see it as being interpreted as anything other than the offramp *to* the mall.

    “We discussed this the other day. I think: It shouldn’t be the reader’s job to mentally rewrite an awkwardly written phrase so we can figure out what the artist meant.”

    No, but the artist doesn’t always recognize there’s another way to view this.

  15. It didn’t confuse me, but that’s because the scene looks so familiar. I live close to Opry Mills in Nashville, and the exit off Briley Parkway looks like that even on slightly busy days. The weekend after Christmas, you don’t want to go anywhere near that place.

  16. The first time I drove through Germany, I wondered why I had never heard of this city “Ausfahrt,” which had to be HUGE judging by how many exits it had from the Autobahn….

  17. I had no problem interpreting “Mall Exit”; the color and style of the sign match highway signs (at least where I am) and that’s clearly a highway guardrail underneath it.

  18. I can park in my driveway, but I rarely do. Mostly I drive on it while getting in and out of the garage.

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