My 10-year-old daughter loves it. She gets to play checkout girl and pretend she works at Safeway. It must irritate my fellow shoppers that I allow my daughter to do all the work – but she’s a better checker than. She can actually read the tiny little codes on the bananas, she has a superior command of the alphabet, and while my fake nails can’t hack those plastic bags, she’s a whiz at bagging.
A few helpful tips: if you buy produce, alcohol and cases of water, skip the self-checkout lane. These items will slow you down and require the help of the patient attendants who must drink heavily after their shifts. I know I would.
I don’t know why any sensible person would prefer the self-checkout nightmare, but judging from the enormous line of shoppers waiting to use those lanes, they surely do. Maybe they feel they’re better at it than the actual employees who’ve been trained to do it with impressive speed and accuracy and who have every possible produce code memorized.
I need to look up every code at the self-checkout lane because I can’t see those little numbers on the avocados and I refuse to wear my reading glasses. Using the code look-up option is no easy task, either. It requires incredible alphabetizing skills. It’s time-consuming and nerve-racking. People stand there watching you while you feverishly try to look up the codes one by one. It’s like being on a game show.
One day I was so flustered I dropped a large carton of strawberries, which went rolling everywhere, triggering the dreaded Automated Voice. It reminded me of the “Lost in Space” robot: “Danger, Will Robinson! Unknown item! Remove item!”
There’s nothing more stressful than scanning all your grocery items in front of an audience. They stand there and glare at you. And how embarrassing is it to buy those personal health and beauty items in front of a dozen strangers? You’d better hurry and not make any mistakes or the Automated Voice will scold you and demand you remove and item, return an item or (if you really blew it) wait for assistance – the ultimate penalty.
At that point you’ll see eyes rolling or hear a big deep frustrated sigh from one of the waiting customers.
It’s too much! By the time I rip my receipt from the machine, I’m sweating and need a drink!
I’ve seen it all in the self-checkout lane. I’ve seen fights between customers over who gets the next checkout station. I’ve seen arguments between customers and attendants. I’ve seen arguments between customers and the Automated Voice! Tensions run high in self-checkout, while the other checkout lanes manned with ready and waiting human checkers stand empty.
What’s the attraction? Why do so many people put themselves through this anxiety? I don’t know, but I’m one of those! I’m trying to wean myself off the self-checkout habit, but it is tough. I’ve decided to buy a case of water, a ton of fruit and vegetables and some alcohol each time I shop, so I won’t be tempted. I miss my old checker friends, anyway.
Not to mention – they don’t yell at me.