One thing I truly despise is when people use convenient technology inconveniently. Self-checkout lanes at the grocery store are a perfect example. I find the self-checkout lanes to be a genius idea. It’s quite possibly the most convenient technology available for the shopping experience. If I only have a few items, I don’t want to wait in line behind some person purchasing 100 items, it’s a way for me to quickly skip the waiting process… and interacting with the cashier… and thanking the bag boy… For an antisocial lump like myself, these are things I would rather not do, even if the regular lane is wide open. I prefer almost all of my shopping experiences to have as little human interaction as possible. So a system that offers 100% self service is perfect. But that’s only if people use it correctly. Which is very often not the case.
There should be strict rules to using the self-checkout lanes at the grocery store. People of average intelligence who have used a computer in the last 10 years should theoretically have no problem using these lanes. But don’t bother using them if:
1. You are old as dirt. Elderly people are the worst when it comes to self checkout lanes. I’ve seen an old woman in front of me walk up to the self checkout lane, and just stare at the computer screen for 30 seconds. She didn’t do anything for 30 seconds. Think about how long 30 seconds really is if you’re just standing in line behind someone staring an angry hole into the back of their head. She had to get the self-checkout lane supervisor to literally help her with every item… She effectively turned the self checkout lane into a regular lane. I’ve seen other old people not immediately understand the concept of touch screen technology. If the supervisor tells you you need to press the screen and you say “OH?!”, then you are TOO OLD FOR SELF CHECKOUT LANES. You NEED the assistance of others.
2. You have a fucking cart. I know not all stores have the little sign that says “15 items or less”, but you have to understand that these lanes were designed for EXPRESS checkout. They are for people who have made quick purchases, or only purchased a small amount of items. If you’ve gone shopping for a month’s worth of food, and you have a cart brimming with merchandise, GO TO A REGULAR LANE. Even I, who declares myself to be a perfect self-checkout lane user, would still take forever to use these lanes if I was purchasing 50 items. That’s why I don’t use them when I purchase 50 items. The regular lanes have a perfect design for large quantities of items. The cashier whizzes the items through the scanner like a pro, and the bag boy puts them in the bag and back into your cart. They’re both good at what they do, because they do it all day, and it’s a great system for what it is. That’s because scanning 50 items is more than a one person job. At least in terms of efficiency. So to the lady last week who had that cart full of food in the self-checkout lane, I hope you were aware that I was daydreaming about murdering you. Now, hand carts are acceptable to a degree, because I like using hand carts if I’m getting 8 items and milk or something I wouldn’t want to juggle in my hands. But I’ve seen people using the self-checkout lanes with hand carts filled with countless little $1 items that take forever to scan. Just because it’s in a hand cart doesn’t always mean it’s OK. It’s about the number of items, you melvins.
3. You have fruits or vegetables. Alright, alright, I know some people are smart enough to purchase fruits and vegetables in the self-checkout lanes. It’s actually not that big of a deal if you know what you’re doing. But as you can imagine, some mouth breather who’s buying a bag of apples for the first time in his life is going to struggle with the process. I’d say it’s somewhere around 80% of people get slowed down by this, and have to ask the supervisor for help. I kind of actually enjoy watching the supervisor come over and do it right in front of them in like 3 seconds and make them look foolish, but still, it’s delaying the process. How about this, if you want to play with the big boys, wait until there is no line in the self-checkout lane to experiment with the vegetable process. There’s no place for your adventurous, asparagus buying spirit when 4 people behind you are waiting for you to figure out how to work the scale.
4. You have coupons. 90% of the time the supervisor has to come over and deal with people when they use coupons. It’s ridiculous. The objective here is to have as little human interaction as possible, so don’t risk it with the coupons. And don’t fucking *argue* with the supervisor about the coupons and their validity. If you wanted to argue with a human about your coupons, then go to the regular lanes, dingus. There’s a human waiting for you at the end of the line. Every time. Meanwhile, I’m stuck waiting for two extra minutes so you could save ten cents on that packet of chicken gravy.
5. You are paying with small cash. I was waiting behind this white-trashy looking couple recently who were paying for $24 worth of groceries with $5 and $1 bills and change. You do realize if you go into a regular lane, you can hand your big wad of smelly hooker cash to the cashier all at one time (I KNOW, RIGHT?) and they will give you change immediately (!). It’s a 10 second process. In the self-checkout lanes, you have to put every dollar in one and a time, nice and slow… Oh, there’s a rip in your dollar?! Better keep trying it over and over again! I’m certainly not seething with rage while standing behind you! This vein on my forehead was always here! …get a fucking bank account, you lowlifes. Debit cards make everything better.
6. You are using the self-checkout lanes because you think it will be “fun”. You know, the guy who created the self-checkout lane didn’t create it as a novelty. It’s not some demented virtual reality machine designed to give rich suburbanites the chance to experience the life of a poor grocery store cashier. “Did you use that new machine at the Jewel, Tina? I feel like I know what’s like to work for minimum wage now, haha! It was so much fun!” There’s nothing fun about scanning your own items. You’re essentially doing work. You’re actually doing work that the store pays other people to do, but you’re doing it yourself for free. The benefit is that you get to skip the long lines with the people purchasing many items, and quickly purchase your 6 items, if you are efficient with the technology. It’s almost like the store is giving you a great responsibility, saying “you can hurry up this whole process if you’re willing to do the work yourself”. It’s actually a nice message. Meanwhile, these ditzy teenagers are taking forever because they are cracking shitty jokes and laughing about how Cody is scanning it wrong (OMG! LOL). If you are the kind of person who is so entertained by the concept of scanning bar codes that using the self-checkout lanes puts a gleeful smile on your face; then you need to fucking get out of the house and find a hobby as soon as possible. Your life is terribly empty.
7. You let your kids scan the items. Kids are known morons and they slow everything down. I mean, that was a nice father/daughter bonding session you had right there. It was sweet. But I only have an hour lunch break, and I’m trying to get home in time to squeeze in an episode of The Daily Show before I have to go back to work. Hurry the fuck up.
I will say though, that *for the most part*, I have no problems with the self-checkout lanes. I have probably a 70% success rate of going up to them and waiting a minute for normal people to use them correctly, then I go ahead and use them correctly, and we all get out of there as quickly as possible. Maybe it’s *because* of all the perfection I’ve witnessed with the system working beautifully that it bothers me so much when someone screws it up. Even a two minute delay shouldn’t happen! I almost wish that the grocery store would require that you pay a yearly fee to use the self-checkout. A small amount. $50 a year or something. That would weed out the lowlifes and the stupid people, and give an opportunity for those of us who actually appreciate the efficient gift that has been given to us to continue to use it with maximum efficiency. I’d happily pay for my convenience and my time.
This post was originally written, by myself, as a guest spot on a new up-and-coming blog at Off My Soap Box. There should be more updates on there in the next couple weeks, and probably more guest spots by me. Hooray?!