Two Steps Back

Seems like technology has us taking one step forward to take two steps back. Late the other night, I realized I had to go to the grocery store. I hate going to the grocery store, but we were out of the stuff folks need, like food. I used to have my groceries delivered by this great online service and all was good, then Safeway bought Randalls and took the service away. Sigh. I've recovered from that trauma and now shop at Alberston's even though it is more expensive, but it is closer and I know where everything is. Hell, my time is worth something, right? I can get in and out with minimal fuss, that is, if I don't take any kids with me. In that case I have to deal with one kid wanting EVERYTHING that is packaged in a colorful box and the other sneaking things into the cart. I would just tie them in the cart, one in the seat and one on the front, the way they used to tie virgins to the front of sailing ships and be done with it, but I believe that Child Protective Services would come get me. (I'm kidding). Alas, the people in my house insist on eating every day and even more than once a day, yet I still seem to be the only one able to make that grocery store trip. What do you mean I can't send little kids to the store by themselves? Now that you mention it, I guess that highway crossing is a little dangerous.
Well, of course all the Valentine slackers were in the store buying up the last minute sweet treats for their honeys, so the store was a little fuller than it might otherwise have been on a Monday night. But Valentine's Day comes every year and you would say that the store manager would have anticipated this right? No of course not. There were only two lines open. The first was the 15 items or less lane. At first glance, that makes sense. Most people were only goign to buy one or two boxes of sub-par chocolate or one bunch of cheap flowers. The other one that was open, though, was the one of the new automated ones, the type that you operate yourself, four to a lane, that all led to one guy (lets call him Jed), standing there monitoring what you are doing and checking the occasional ID for would-be underaged drinkers.

Now, my supermarket has had these automated lanes for several months and I have used nary a one. I already told you I hate grocery shopping, so the idea of do-it-yourself checkout is downright funny, rating right up there with Cheney shooting his friend while hunting and then mulling over what kind of spin they would put on the story. If I wanted to do-it-myself grocery shop, Iwould be shopping for my groceries at Home Depot.

I obviously had more than 15 items, so I reluctantly headed for the automated line. I gotta tell you, I was at a loss for words. I stood at the machine and I looked around the store. It was clear that with people backing up into the aisles that they were not going to figure out within the next five minutes that they should open a regular line and use the automated line as the express line. That would be too much like right.
I made eye contact with Jed. He looked at me and I growled, "I hate these things. I need a person."

You know what the M'F-er did? he shrugged.
So I just stood there.
He folded his arms.
I picked up one of the items in my full-ish cart and turned it over and over, then touched the screen on the checkout.
The machine screamed at me. 'SCAN ITEM!"
I let out a litle scream. "Ahh!"
I turned the box over some more and then swiped it over the register.
The machine beeped.
Jed looked on.
The line got longer.
Jed looked on.
Well, I repeated my theatrics for about four items, and finally Jed got the picture. He was swift one, this Jed. He finally sidled over to help me.
I wondered how much was he gettign paid to stand there with his arms folded. Twelve dollars an hour? Fifteen?
He reached into my basket and started to pass the items over the scanner, not much faster than I had been doing.
Hmm. No wonder he was being replaced buy a machine.
I finally got all of my groceries scanned and bagged, (Who knew there was a grocery-bagging science?), and made my way home to enjoy a glass of wine that I had also ordered on the internet. I reflected on my experience and decided that it coudl have been worse. Pretty soon, even Jed's watch dog position might be replaced by a person video conferenced in from India.


Anonymous said…
maybe a grocery store prima donna might like to try a new store:

and a shoe-shonista won't have to get her monolos wet getting food on a rainy day...

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