I’ve learned to pump my own gas. I’ve accepted those automated phone systems which replaced real, live customer service people. I’ve finally (mostly) gotten over the anger I felt when the Verizon representative told me to go outside and check my own phone lines. (Really? Up a telephone pole? I don’t think so.)
But is it too much to ask that someone else scan and bag my groceries?
I had a few extra minutes and decided to pick up some groceries on my way to work. There are two stores on my way – Wegmans and Tops. I love Wegmans, but the store is huge and once I’m in there, I get distracted and always buy more than I really need.
So, I opted for Tops. In fact, I was looking forward to stopping in because this particular Tops is not crowded in the early morning – and they have really good fresh-baked products.
Maybe I should have taken it as a sign when some old lady tried to run head-on into me in the nearly empty parking lot. She seemed confused to see another vehicle, and I had to swerve once I realized she had no intention of slowing down or stopping (maybe she forgot where the brake pedal is?). Swerving was easy, of course – the entire lot was empty except for one or two cars at the edges which likely belonged to store employees.
Having shopped this store before, I was familiar with its layout. I got in, got my items, and was at the checkout within minutes. But none of the regular checkout lanes were open. Not a single one. Only the self-checkouts were available.
I hate self-checkout, even if I only have one or two items. I’m of a generation who is used to someone scanning and then bagging my groceries, usually with a smile and a bit of chitchat – but always quickly and efficiently, and always with respect.
Self-checkouts do not offer respect, nor do they offer efficiency.
The first lane I tried notified me it was a card-only lane, and no cash would be accepted. I don’t like to use my credit card when purchasing only a few dollars worth of groceries. I moved to the next lane.
This time, I made sure the checkout would accept cash. Yes! Then I followed the vocal prompts:
“Scan your first item and place it in the bag.“
Sure, where is that darn bar code? This is a bakery item. Oh, there it is, underneath. (Now the frosting will be f*d but does the store care? Not at all.)
What about this 12-pack of bottled water? I had a hard enough time getting it off the shelf and into the cart, now I have to take it out again and try to scan that itty bitty code on the side? The damn package is HEAVY!
Ever tried to scan a package of bacon? Or a bag of potatoes? The scanner doesn’t like those plastic packages with slightly crinkly bar codes.
Do you know how annoying it is bagging groceries? I had scanned the bakery stuff first and the heavy stuff last. Now I had to arrange everything properly to avoid damage to the contents during the car ride. And I didn’t want the bacon in with the pastry, nor did I really want the bottled water in a bag (even though the machine told me to). Grrrr.
“Do you have coupons? Please scan them and then place them in the scanned coupon slot below.“
Huh? What scanned coupon slot? Oh, that little slit that’s so skinny I need a magnifying glass just to see it? And it only take those coupons one at a time, and you have to really maneuver them in there? Thank heavens I only have two coupons today!
By now, I was cussing and mumbling – a lot. Wouldn’t you think one of the store employees would amble on over to help? Nope, they were all too busy chatting with each other while the customers fended for themselves.
Remember that jingle: “Tops never stops giving you more” ? This Tops stopped. Maybe the manager of this particular store needs a little re-education.
“Now, insert payment. If you are using coins, please insert those first.“
My total was $19.47, and I had a $20 bill. Should be easy, peasy. But, of course, the scanner didn’t like the first $20 bill I inserted (too crinkled, maybe?), so I had to find a second one in my purse. It takes time to find anything in my purse.
By the time the machine finally spit out my 53 cents in change, I was so aggravated that I forgot to grab the receipt that was eventually generated. By then, I was already halfway to my car. Hopefully, there will be nothing wrong with the items I purchased because I wouldn’t be able to return them without a receipt. A human checker would have been sure to hand the receipt to me; the machine couldn’t care less.
The total process took me three times as long as it would have taken to go through a regular checkout lane. As a result, I was late for work.
I should have gone to Wegmans.
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Images by Cordelia’s Mom