What the fuck is up with Self-Checkout? It terrifies me. I know it’s supposed to be “convenient” and it’s supposed to cut labor costs by putting octogenarian cashiers out of work in Wal-Marts everywhere, but seriously. I can’t get shit done at them.
I walk up to my friendly Harris Teeter self check-out about once a week only to have it scream, politely, “WELCOME TO HARRIS TEETER PARA ESPANOL, MARCA DE LA ESTRELLA,” to which I respond with a blank stare, not noting any Spanish or English stars anywhere on the apparatus. Once we overcome our language barrier, I rest easy knowing that every item I scan will beep at a reassuring decibel level of four million twenty six, except for every third-and-a-half thing which will result in the SCO wobot yelling, “PLEASE SEE CASHIER FOR ASSISTANCE.”
I don’t want assistance with my box of Playtex Super-Flo tampons, okay? The UPC is large, flat, quite visible, and, in my opinion, secretly outfitted with a code on certain items such as tampons, condoms, and other embarrassing personal items to result in an absolute technological meltdown just so all the fratboys behind me can giggle at my ineptness and/or private needs.
When my items have all been scanned to the best of my ability, minus the ones I have discarded into the rack of chewing gum and emergency keychain flashlights because I do not want to risk certain things being broadcast to my fellow shoppers, wobot starts yelling again.
“DO YOU HAVE ANY ITEMS UNDER YOUR CART?”
“No,” I press, since I and everyone else know that you’re not even supposed to go through SCO with a WHOLE SHOPPING CART OF SHIT BECAUSE THAT’S NOT WHAT IT IS FOR, THAT IS NOT WHAT IT IS FOR.
And then, “DO YOU HAVE ANY COUPONS?”
Which is also worthless, because I have tried inserting coupons and every time I get directed to a human cashier for assistance, thus rendering the offer, and the SCO, moot on all accounts, so again I press, “No.”
And riddle me this. The easiest part should be paying, right? Wrong. For some cosmic reason, I ALWAYS get the machine that is out of money for change. I don’t own any credit or debit cards, and writing checks is a sure way to get scoffed at in any major retailer nowadays if you don’t have a current driver’s license, a birth certificate, a snapshot of your latest police lineup, and the results from your most recent MMPI personality test on hand for confirmation your citizenship and resulting qualification to purchase 2% milk and a giant jar of pickles.
And most of the time, the “cashier assistants” aren’t much help either. The last time I was in a SCO line, I was behind a very frail old man who could not get his debit card to work. No matter how many times he punched in 1-0-0-3, his PIN simply would not register. The gangly teenaged cashier sauntered over to the old man and asked what the problem was.
“My PIN number won’t work.”
I closed my eyes gently and breathed deeply at the redundancy, knowing America would never get it right, would never stop saying “number” like they can’t stop saying, “ATM Machine.” The cashier sighed with impatience and said, “Look, let me try. What’s your PIN?”
“One thousand three,” the old man responded, handing over his card.
The cashier shook his head with an amused grin on his little rat face.
“Well, sir, there’s your problem, obviously. This machine doesn’t HAVE a ‘thousand’ key.”
Check THAT out.