Dear Heloise: These days, almost all retail operations use a bar-coded inventory and retail sales system. An item cannot be entered into a cash register without a bar code or its accompanying number. Knowing the price just isn't good enough anymore!

To make shopping go faster, as I approach the checkout stand at a department store, I try to arrange all the merchandise on the counter so the tags and bar codes are in sight, and the salesperson is able to quickly scan the bar code. I place the garment, package or greeting card with the tag facing up and visible. I don't make the clerk go on a hunting expedition.

This makes my purchase go faster, and other shoppers don't have to wait as long. This really helps during sales, when shoppers have cartfuls of merchandise. It doesn't take any extra effort and it sure makes things go faster. — Sue Girard, Nipomo, Calif.

Sue, checkers everywhere will thank you! Folks, even though scanners make it easier, this is a nice courtesy! — Heloise

Dear Heloise:My mother keeps a bag of clothespins in her closet, as well as next to the washing machine. Whenever something has a stain on it that will require special attention at wash time, she marks the stain with a clothespin. That way, when loading the washer, she can quickly identify the things that require spot treatment. — Katie, San Antonio

Dear Heloise: I have two safety hints that are especially important for the elderly and for single people.

First, we have a security screen door and every time we come inside, we immediately lock it. Whether the front door is closed or open, we have the locked screen door between us and any stranger who knocks. Our other doors are all locked, too.

Secondly, when getting into your car, immediately lock the doors, even before starting the motor. — Barbara J. Fenley, Buena Park, Calif.

Dear Heloise: I read in your column where a reader offered her hint for preserving blocks of cheese by cubing them and freezing part for later use. I personally don't care for the texture of cheese when defrosted, and cubing just exposes more surfaces to mold. I have a method that has served me for 40 years. The hint was originally from a chef in the '60s.

Unwrap the cheese immediately when you bring it home. Take just enough paper towel to wrap the cheese. Soak the towel in vinegar and squeeze until almost dry, then wrap the cheese in it. Place in a plastic bag. It will last for weeks. No mold and no taste of vinegar — honestly! — Eilene C., Lake Forest, Calif.

Dear Heloise: In a pinch (no pun intended), a picture postcard makes a great shoehorn. — G.E.D., Houston

Send a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonsio, TX 78279-5000, or you can fax it to 210-435-6473 or e-mail it to I can't answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column. © King Features Syndicate Inc.