Wednesday, April 11, 2007


***back to back rants. my apologies. i sent someone a message which became a spout off on this topic, leading to my realization that i've got a lot more to say about it. i've been rocking a lot of new music lately and am always checking out the quality flicks that breeze through my local cineplexes. i keep intending to write up some reviews, but either get distracted, or revert to some other topic half way through, deleting what i'd started. consider this a disclaimer.

and now, back to our regularly scheduled programming...

self-checkout lanes have been popping up everywhere over the past few years. maybe this is isolated to my neck of the woods. if that's the case, to explain, its basically a line without a cashier. you scan it yourself. you bag it yourself. you tear your own receipt. simple enough, right? these self-checkouts are featured predominantly in grocery stores. every grocery store i go to has at least four of them. lately, i've been seeing them in retail stores like target and wal-mart. everyone's got self-checkout fever! come bask in the glorious convenience of technology. the idea is to speed up the payment and receiving process. we've all finished our food shopping only to find a mere 2 lanes open, each with a dozen full carts in waiting. with self checkout, four lanes can run with only one supervising employee.

my friend refuses to use them. he feels that these machines are outsourcing jobs from america's able bodied youth. while i agree, i'm not as strict with my principles. plus, in rebuttal, these machines don't build and maintain themselves...and i don't know of anyone who achieved their childhood dreams by climbing the grocery store corporate ladder.

my problem isn't actually the machines, its the people using them. some individuals turn the speed and convenience into stagnation and confusion. as a result, i've developed new stereotypes to increase my chances of avoiding deadlocked checkout traffic.

the vegetable eaters:
broccoli. carrots. belgian endive. none of these come with scan-able bar codes. instead, you have to set it on the scanner to be weighed, then either type in its designated 4 digit number or find it in a huge, slow loading produce picture library. sometimes its not even in the library. they could put the number in, if they knew that were an option, but most don't. the number is usually found on the little stickers on apples, oranges, peppers, etc., but not on loose wet vegetables like spinach, cabbage, herbs, and so on. if you're really observant, steer clear of any line with cabbage buyers.

the elderly:
two reasons, really, and i'm going to use the word "tend" a lot. old people tend to be set in their ways. they tend to continue to operate with there outdated technologies and comfortable familiar ways. in my grandparents minds, why have a DVD player if there's a working VCR? why worry about a CD player if the radio works fine? most old people tend to have no reason for owning a computer, and therefore tend to see no reason to learn how to use one (i spent an hour last week explaining how to use the computer at the library to find a book. in thanks, the old lady gave me a peppermint. score!). when faced with a scanner, a bagging system with a scale and a touch screen, expect bewilderment... and reason two. wheelchairs, walkers and canes should set off the warning lights. its a hands on process, folks, and these accessories can and will become quite inhibitive.

the cash carriers:
we've all been faced with a vending machine or change machine that just wouldn't accept our mangled bills. these same dollar takers are used in most self-checkout lanes. if that's all they have or if they're stubborn enough, you'll likely stand there scoffing as mr. or mrs. moneybags repeated forces their cash in, the machine sucks it up, then spits it out. repeat. repeat. repeat.

the over zealous:
some people can't move fast enough. in most cases that's fantastic, but this isn't one of them. say your buying peanut butter, jelly and a loaf of bread. you scan the 16 oz. jar of peanut butter. beep beep. "place in bagging area" appears on the screen. what they don't tell you is that the bagging area has a scale under it to prevent stealing. you have to wait a couple seconds for the scale to register that you just put something weighing 16 oz. in the bag, compare it to what was scanned and approve it. if you jump the proverbial gun, scanning and bagging the jelly before these few seconds have elapsed, it freezes until the clerk comes to void it. this happens A LOT so its likely that this could take a minute as the clerk is likely helping someone else who did the same thing.

so...the safest bets? 18 - 30 year olds. these people are the most technologically savvy this nation's got. they are the cell phone yakking, video game playing, myspace socializing, text message typing, debit card swiping generation. they all have computers. they also tend to shop light. college kids rarely buy more than 10 items at once. also, the younger they are, the more likely they've recently had a job doing just this.

1 comment:

Monica said...

!.Two thumbs up.!

New York Times calls it witty.

After watching Blood Diamonds I needed something that kept me from abandoning all things American and moving to a third world country.

Just one more testament to how America rocks!