I think secretly, when I was helping my high school friend to learn PLU (Price Look Up) codes for her job at Overwaitea back in 1989, I was really wishing it was me that was going to wear that hideous polyester golf shirt and poorly fitted brown pants. I mean, I still remember that yellow bananas are 4011. Yes, they are. Go look it up yourself. But no, I chose to work at a video store, so to this day I am not able to look at a seven digit number without instantly memorizing it.
Anyway, when I get the opportunity to use a self serve checkout, I secretly I squeal with delight inside and rush right over there to be a quasi cashier. I know all sorts of tricks for making it go smoother. Like, if you want to use your own bag, but don’t know how to fool the machine, you just stack everything up unbagged in the bagging area and then take your sweet time to pack it all into your own bags after the transaction is complete.
Now, I know I am getting ripped off here. Going into a store that employs cashiers to manhandle my purchases means that the prices I pay include a portion that is allocated to covering the wages of those people. So, using a self serve checkout means you are paying for something you don’t get. But let’s face it – when was the last time a cashier at a grocery store was conversational? Pleasant? Went out of their way to ensure that you had a good experience? Not scowling?
Anecdote: the other day, toddler-free, I hit up Safeway. I normally avoid Safeway, but in this case, I had gone to the produce joint across the street and they were out of fresh sage and I needed it for a recipe. So I walked over to Safewat and while there realize I need a few other things and so I grab milk, bananas, crackers, panko crumbs, and the sage and walk to the cashier. For once, the cashiers had no lineup but the self serve checkouts did have a line up, so I went with “fastest way out of here”. Like a good little eco-conscious shopper, I had my own bag, which I put on top of the pile of groceries on the conveyor (dirty and disgusting – what the hecks is with that, why do they not wash those things?) and my Friendly and Helpful Cashier did not look up, did not say hello, did nothing other than move my canvas tote from one side of the scanner to the other, and then proceeded to scan my items and pile them ON TOP of the bag (not IN, where it would have made sense). Because apparently bringing your own bag to the grocery store is actually super secret cashier code for “I WANT TO BAG MY OWN STUFF TOO”. You know, while I am juggling my Safeway card, Airmiles card and debit card while YOU PICK YOUR FINGERNAILS WHILE I WORK THE KEYPAD.
Okay, seriously? When did this become the new thing? I bring my own bags (and PS, SAFEWAY, why the heck don’t you offer me something in return? Every other grocery store chain out there does – sheesh) and this has somehow been translated to “In addition to utter and complete shit service, you get to bag your own stuff! Enjoy!”. You know, I don’t mind bagging my own things. I actually don’t. In fact, I do a better job because I understand Grocery Physics and don’t stuff a 4 litre of milk in with a loaf of bread. I am careful not to DROP the tomatoes into the bag or bounce an apple across the scanner. But if I am not getting EYE CONTACT or at the very least a muttered HELLO or some freaking COLLECTOR POINTS FOR BRINGING MY OWN BAG then sweet mother of all that is holy and good in this world, you better not pick your fingernails while I juggle all the cards you ask me to produce and then watch dejectedly as I bag my own stuff.
Anyway. Where was I? Right. Self Serve Checkouts = Awesome.