Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Self-Serve Checkouts

I have a confesson to make: I love the self-serve checkouts at the grocery store. From talking to other people, I think I supposed to loathe them; everyone else seems to. But I use them quite happily, and without incident, and they satisfy my super-secret desire to use the scanner all by myself.

Some people object to the self-serve checkouts because they are confusing and hard to use. Really? Because last time I looked, the gum-chewing, monosyllabic teenager who passes my stuff over the scanner does not have a PhD in geophysics. Now, I will allow that those scanners take a little bit of getting used to; the first few times I took a crack at them it was like something out of an episode of "I Love Lucy", but I figured them quickly enough, and use them all the time now.

I know some people also object to the self-serve checkouts because they take a job away from a person, and diminish the human interaction in the transaction. Now, I'm not thrilled to be doing someone out of a job, but, seriously? my shopping expedition has rarely been improved by the bored silence or surly grunts of the person checking out my groceries. Cashiers who have entire conversations with their co-workers (usually complaining about their breaks, or bosses or how little that cow over at the service desk does at closing time every night) while they are getting my order through piss me right off. If that cashier doesn't bother to even tell me what the total of my bill is, and just stands there waiting for me to look at the screen with her hand out, I am enraged beyond all reason.
Worse, is the cashier who feels the need to comment on my purchases....."oooh, someone's having a party!" (No, not really. But thanks for the reference to our less than ideal eating habits.)
"Wow, you sure must like a lot of salad!" (Actually, the idea that buying three heads of romaine for 4 people for one week is not really that crazy. And judging by the size of you, salads, and vegetables in general, is a concept you might want to investigate in the near future.) "What do you do with this?" (in reference to an avocado) (I slather it all over my naked body and dance around a campfire singing "Copacabana".)

Having said that, I do have some very favorite cashiers, who I will make a point of going to every time I see them working at my local Loblaws. There is Val, who I went to high school with, who aways welcomes me warmly and is good for a laugh. There is Speedy Meg, who can whip through those codes for the produce like nobody's business. (She might actually be working towards a PhD in geophysics.) And Cory, who is about as much fun as one can handle while standing in line at the checkout...he's outgoing, and cheerful and clearly loves talking to people
and is unfailingly good company. I will happily skip the self-checkout if any one of them are working, even if I'm only buying a pack of gum.

If you are at the grocery store with a couple of children, fewer bribes are more effective than "if you do that again you won't be able to scan stuff at the checkout". Honestly, the self-checkout is the best, most immediate reward for good behavior ever invented. My kids are 12 and 15 and they still beg to be able to do the work at the checkout. I heard a woman with a couple of preschoolers at the grocery store threaten to use the cashier if they didn't behave, and man, did that do the job. It was like they were little self-serve checkout addicts, and she said she'd withhold their hit.

Now, if I could just get a self-serve checkout at the passport office, or the American border, or doctor's office, that would be very sweet.


Dawg said...

I vote for self check-outs at the border. Please. Can you rush this request?!?

Anne McDonald said...

(In Loblaws one day)
Pete: I love self check-outs. It's a beautiful world Anne, except for the people.