Tales from the Checkout Counter

Be honest. Do you like the automated grocery store checkout counters? I’m talking about the ones that are do it yourself and are supposed to save time.

I’ve used them on occasion and I thought they were okay if you have a carton of ice cream and your only other option is a line with four people waiting.

I like to shop in the morning. Most of the time I go to a small grocery story that has people behind the checkout stands. But this morning I needed about ten items before breakfast, so I hurried down to my local mega-chain conveniently located less than a mile away.

One check-out counter was open. Long line waiting. I decided to use the self-check-out counter because everything in my basket had a bar code.

First mistake. I left items in my basket.

Machine: “Please put items in the area designated.”

Me: “Screw you.” I began swiping the bar codes. The machine tells me the price. After two items I swipe a third and when it won’t fit in the bag I put it back in my cart.

Machine: “Please return your checked item to the bagging area.”

Me: “It’s a half gallon of milk. If I leave it there, I won’t have room for the bag.”

Machine: “Please return your checked item to the bagging area.” I notice the checkout device is now locked. I can’t continue.

Me: “Fine.” I set it next to the open bag. The checkout device is activated again so I finish loading the bag and I set it in the cart.”

Machine: “Do not remove your bag from the bagging area.”

Me: “Are you kidding me?” Actually, I muttered something worse, but I’ll let you imagine the word I used after “you” and “kidding.”

Machine: “Do not remove your bag from the bagging area.”

Me: “That’s it.” I admit I’ve now raised my voice. “I’ve had it, you stupid machine. Nobody yells at me at seven o’clock in the morning, especially a piece of metal.”

I remove all the items from the bagging area, put them back in my cart, cancel the transaction and leave. The attendant (a real person) runs over and makes sure I’m not stealing anything I guess. I explain I do not like to be scolded by a rude, obnoxious machine. He nods and I return to the checkout stand with the long line, now fully understanding why people choose to wait.

End of story? I calm myself with deep breathing, smile at the woman checking items, and refrain from telling her what I’m really thinking when she politely asks if I found everything.

I should have said, “Why yes, I found my sanity, and I learned a lesson. I will not function well in a society run by robots.”

End of story.

1 thought on “Tales from the Checkout Counter”

  1. I refuse to check my self out. I do not work at these stores, and am not getting paid to do it . Let them hire more people. Besides, it is taking a job from someone who needs one.


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