Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Self Checkout Aisle Pulse Check

While doing my usual round of grocery shopping this past weekend, I decided to try the “Self Checkout” aisle and ring up my own groceries in an effort to avoid the inevitable two hour delay in line at any of the other regular check out aisles.

There is nothing worse on a weekend afternoon than waiting at the Check Out at the supermarket with your boxes of Presidents Choice prepared meals, while ahead of you, Grandma Moses is having the poor basic like-skilled minimum wage checkout clerk calculate complex finite math with all her cut-out coupons and penny-sale discount items. Heaven help you if you arn't quick enough on the draw with the dividing bar and should ever allow your grocery items to accidently intermingle with hers - it'll be anarchy!

I just don’t have that kind of patience. Fuck, a dead person doesn’t have that kind of patience!

How hard can checking out your own groceries be anyways? Scan the product code and place in the bag – simple. I've seen the process performed a million times before and I’ve even worked in retail and sales before. In fact, I have operated dozens of normal retail store cash registers on three different continents – so why am I so scared about checking out my own groceries? It should be easy.

I was wrong. And what a terrible wrong it was. It was right on par in wrongness as Phil collins covering Cyndi Lauper's 'Time After Time' and boxed wine.

What started out as a simple exercise in applying learned retail skills; quickly turned into the Philadelphia Experiment. It was like I was suddenly taking orders from an evil KITT from Knight Rider.

“Please key in your produce items first” – and then I couldn’t help but think that I had also heard this particular demon register add “or else” to the end of that statement as well. But I can’t confirm or deny that just yet. Regardless, it was disconcerting to say the least. It’s like I was suddenly sucked into the plotline of Maximum Overdrive and I was waiting for the register to decide that it was time to turn on its human master and blind me by shooting its red scanning laser into my eyes.

Maybe some things are best left to the basic life-skilled minimum wage donkeys. In light of this recent failure, I for one, will wait in line until those ahead of me have either finished checking out, or have dropped from sheer exhaustion before I attempt to use another one of these personal “Self Checkout” lanes again.

Thanks - but no thanks.

Call me old fashioned, but your groceries should be scanned by a humorless woman in a hairnet while being bagged by a seventy year old man named Chester who has just been released from prison and continually refers to you as “Boss Man”.


Blogger MPH said...

I like my check out ladies to be toothless and humorless. I also like for my old bag guys to have arthritic hands. Their complaining is funny.

2:34 PM  
Blogger Shamus O'Drunkahan said...

Well, you nailed it. Self-service in the grocery store (WalMart has it out here as well) is demeaning. What's next? We need to pry open boxes to get the merchandise out? Or help unload it off the trucks?

Because that's where we're heading.

5:29 AM  

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