So, here’s the thing.
As I see it, the option to use the self-checkout line at any grocery or big box store should be seen as a privilege, not a right. If you have a handful of pre-packaged, SKU bearing items, your debit card is liberated from your wallet, positioned to insert, chip end first, with a quick and accurate pointer finger at the ready then I say Godspeed my friend, and encourage you to proceed with that “Can Do” attitude to the nearest self-serve terminal.
If, on the other hand, you have a basket filled to the brim with bushels of leafy green produce and numerous bulk bags containing several different kinds of organically grown and ethically harvested grains (all of which you have neglected to write down the correct product codes for), then I implore with you to remain steadfast in your socially responsible life choices by showing some respect for your fellow shoppers and piling that vast hoard of hippy snacks onto the nearest automated conveyor belt where it all can be dealt with by a trained professional!
Those who know me personally are aware that I am generally a really kind and friendly person, but the one thing that never fails to make me really grouchy is wasted time. As a result, when my hopeless sense of whimsy has been allowed to prevail on occasions where I have been significantly delayed by people fumbling and flailing through the self-check-out process, that time has been spent developing an elaborate punitive system for those who use and abuse their right to access the self-service line.
On my happy days, the ones that are filled with magical unicorns and colorful rainbows, my system simply requires the shoppers in the wonderful land of 9Dorz to pass a basic, practical skills test which awards one a license to use the self-check-out service. Reasonable, yes? Under this system if one repeatedly fails to quickly and accurately navigate their way through the process then this license would be revoked, and whilst there would most likely be some level of public shaming involved (these details have yet to be finalized), justice would indeed be swift, yet fair.
On bad days (when it is rainy, cold, or I am feeling hangry) then a Mr. Burns style trap door is added to the equation, where again, if one fails to navigate the system, error free, and within a pre-determined length of time, this door would swing open beneath the offender delivering them to a medieval style moat where they would have ample time to reflect upon their grave misdeeds while swimming their way to safety.
On REALLY bad days (when it is rainy, cold, I am feeling hangry AND I have slipped in one of the magical unicorn’s poop) well, that moat also contains a small family of peckish crocodiles.
In the magical world of 9Dorz a Mr. Burns style “Trap Door” app would be a government funded project.
With this knowledge in place one can imagine the panic, nay, disbelief that I experienced last week when I was quickly and efficiently scanning my way through a small basket of packaged goods at a well-known local retailer and quite unexpectedly heard that stern and rebuking robotic voice utter the phrase “please remove the last item from the bag”.
What the what?!?!
I had followed my regular, pre-check out routine to the letter and had not deviated one iota from the tried and true, iron- clad, 9Dorz self-checkout system! Prior to approaching the terminal I had mentally noted the order that I would scan my purchases based on size, shape and weight, I had listened carefully for the telltale beep which indicates that an item has been successfully scanned before depositing it in the pre-arranged plastic bag to my right (getting caught with a static charged, unopened bag and no place to put your items is a total rookie manoeuvre), and to top it all off my debit card was tucked halfway into my jeans pocket, chip side up, and ready for action!
As I attempted to quickly shake off the red hot shame of being caught making an error so grievous that under the laws of my own kingdom I could potentially be tarred and feathered with a large stack of on-shelf, in-store coupons (one of the public shaming options I tabled in my head the last time I spent ten minutes in line behind a lady who thought it acceptable to bring a whole cart load of groceries to the self-checkout terminal ), I blindly grabbed the last item I placed in the bag and scanned it, only to immediately realize that the Vitamin Water I held in my hand now appeared twice! As I frantically searched for an onscreen option that would allow me to delete the duplicate scan, the terminal began to loudly and repeatedly prompt me to “please place the item in the bag”.
Flustered, mortified, and exhibiting a code red level of anxiety that was slowly drawing the attention of my fellow shoppers I knew that the only way to extricate myself from this daymare was to draw upon the tenets of my own belief system, fall on my sword, and call in professional help. With that decision made, I hung my head in shame, pushed the “Call Attendant” button, and waited for the trap door beneath me to swing open.
Only, it didn’t…and no one came.
As I slowly came to the realization that I had not been ushered to a cold, watery grave, and that it was sweat running down my forehead, not hot, sticky tar being released from above, I lifted my head to bravely prepare for the retribution the real world had in store for me that was obviously so horrific that it was causing THIS long of a delay to prepare. Yet as my panic clouded vision slowly began to clear, I quickly realized that there was an attendant, sporting a jaunty tie and an apathetic stare, standing not three feet away from me.
Could this individual not see the self-checkout shit storm that that was currently going down on his watch? Was he not alerted by his high-tech, hand-held, remote device that a tornado of chaos worth $1.98 (plus tax) was getting ready to tear apart the universe at terminal three?
With my wits now about me I leapt into action, approached the young man and humbly asked for his help. Yet, again, surprisingly, no reaction! After what seemed like an eternity of dead air I repeated my request, pointed to the terminal, and despite the fact that this second request actually prompted him to move towards the area, he still refused to speak to me.
As I followed in silence I began to wonder if this was a new style of retribution being doled out by this retailer in response to an increase in incidences involving self-checkout deadbeats. My mind flashed back to an episode of The Twilight Zone (the 80’s reboot, not the original) where a man accused of the crime of “coldness” was imprinted with a mark on his forehead that indicated to the rest of society that he was to appear as if invisible to them, and that under no circumstances were they permitted to acknowledge his presence. I began to contemplate the possibility that this was the type of futuristic justice now being doled out by one of western Canada’s most beloved retailers when I was brought back to reality by a series of loud beeps, and saw the young attendant return, in silence, to his post.
Still in shock, I turned back to the screen and saw that not only had he deleted the extra bottled beverage from the bill, but the terminal had stopped its incessant squawking and I apparently was ready to return to my “iron-clad” self-checkout system.
Embarrassment, shock and self-preservation make for strange bedfellows, so I scanned my last item, a box of my beloved Crest brand teeth whitening strips, listened for the beep, placed it in the bag, paid for my order, and exited, stage left, as quickly as possible.
When I arrived home I dropped my bag at the front door and it was not until about a half hour later when I went to retrieve something from it that I thought to go over the receipt to ensure that everything was in order. This is something that I normally do before leaving the store, but in light of my futuristic shunning experience this time I had chose to get the hell out of Dodge as soon as was practicable.
As I began scanning the receipt I noticed that the list seemed really short, and when I arrived at the total I realized that something was drastically wrong. That amount charged was WAY too low to accurately reflect the value of the items that I purchased. As I mentally checked off each line in my head, praying that one or more of the items I had purchased had been subject to a significant reduction in price due to a sale that I was not aware of, the reality of the situation began to sink in. Despite the terminal having emitted that telltale beep of approval, and it allowing me to put the item in the bag without losing its ever-loving robotic mind, the teeth whitening strips did not appear as part of the total!!!!
As I trudged down the hill back towards the store to pay for the unaccounted for item (there was never any question in my head that I would not make the error right), all I could see ahead of me was that family crocodiles, circling…and they all had REALLY white teeth!
Have you ever had any self-checkout mishaps? Have you been behind someone in line who you would deem worthy of trap door justice? Please share your self-checkout experiences in the comment section below.