Monday, February 14, 2011

Guilty as charged

Well, I caved. I was at the grocery store the other day and I had about 11 items and those 'self check-out' lanes had no people. I don't like them for a number of reasons; one being the most important is that they take away someone's job. Plus, they scare me. But I used it anyway, guilty as charged.

I have had experienced a PTSD moment when I have used them in the past. My first time using them was not by choice, it was by a young man who led me to it. He was so angelic looking, leading me to an empty line away from the crowds of people. Oh, I'm sure he meant no harm, but when I got there, he also led about 6 other people there.

Me first. So I started scanning and I was going real slowly as to not make any mistakes as the people in line looked on in hope that I would hurry up. secretly you can see them cheering me on in hope that the red flashing light never flashed and that voice, oh that dreaded voice "Please stand by, help is on its way" would pop up.

Remember that angelic looking young man, well, he turned out to be a meany. I did get the flashing light and I did get that horrible voice, and he was not at all happy to leave his post to help me.

He started to give me the evil eye, you know, that nasty look that you get of disapproval. He was probably mad at himself for leading me to the promised land of fast service, but little did he know, that I have avoided these things for a good reason.

So there I was, with all my goodies and everyone in line hating me. Yep, I said it, HATED me. They all had the look. I felt like yelling "it’s not my fault, he was the one who brought me here", but that stupid voice kept coming through that darn machine. No matter what I scanned "please stand by, help is on its way" I avoided all eye contact at that moment with my fellow shoppers. They were secretly throwing knives at me. Thank God I couldn't read their minds.

So I got out of the store realizing that if I just stayed in my original line and dealt with a breathing human being I would have been out quicker plus all those people wouldn't hate me. But as I try to convince myself "I'll never see them again", isn’t always the case.

So since that horrible moment in time, I have avoided those things like the plague. Every time I see one, I go into some sort of anxiety attack.

Now, this anxiety I get is not new to me and this whole 'we-don’t-want-to-pay-someone-to-work' concept and not new. The telephone has been doing it for a while.

Just last I was calling my doctors office and I had to go through this whole animated voice mail thingy.

The reason I bring up my doctors, because I couldn’t spell his last name because you needed to be able to spell it to get to his voice mail, and God forbid if you didn’t know how to spell it, you would end up in some foreign country in a language you never heard before.

So, that's what made me thought of this post, because during my medical appointment, which I would of canceled If I could spell his name, but I wasn’t about to be charged for an appt that I couldn’t make, so I went.

So there I was waiting in my doctors office, whose name I can never pronounce, That just reminded me that I have to switch my doctor to a name I can pronounce, but I digress, I was reading an article in some magazine, which I never heard of btw, the article suggested, that in a few years, all these cashiers will be replaced with these self checkout machines to save time and money. While reading this, I started to notice my hands actually started to sweat. My fears started to come true, I read it there, in black and white. My can feel my anxiety level rise.

Then my doctor, whose name I can't pronounce, told me my blood pressure was high, and that I needed to watch my salt intake, but as I tried to explain that it's not the salt, its those self help cashiers taking over the world and I'm not ready, Dr. what-cha-name. (Remind myself, must look for a new doctor) said soon you will be able to diagnose your own problem with an ap and you wont need doctors anymore. Gee, thanks, Dr. what-cha-name man.

I can’t even imagine what my life would be like. I mean even 411 are all automated. Jim Croce would be rolling in his grave if he knew that there would be no 'operators' out there for him to talk to in his most vulnerable moments.

I admit here and now, I am missing those people that come up to you in the store and say "can I help you with something?” Of course in those days I would have my auto response "no, I'm just looking, now go away, scat scat and leave me alone".

But what I would give for someone, anyone, to say "can I help you" and really mean it. Lets face it, now that we actually want the help, there is no one even around.

I was shopping the other day in one of those huge department stores. I needed help as I didn't want to be in the store all day. Apparently, customer service is the only people who can help.

So First you have to find the store directory which is usually by the escalators, but you have to find the escalators first, that’s always fun, then once you find them, you find out customer service is on the 3rd floor, so up you go, at least you can just stand there but the fear of being knocked down by some crazy eyed shopper running up the escalator with all her bags, hits you and nearly almost knocks you down. You know who you are, I'm not even going to give you space on my blog.

So you make it up unscaved, you then have to walk around the whole store looking for 'customer service' which it's usually tucked in the back somewhere, and then upon arriving you have to stand in a line, you know the kind, which I like to call 'the snake'. You see, returning items seem to be a favorite past time now, everyone is returning. Yea, I see you there lady, the one who nearly knocked me over on the escalator apparently to beat me and who ever else on the customer service line. Aren’t you just proud of yourself?

So after 30 minutes on the 'snake', and giving the evil eye to the lady with the bags (I can do it too you know) I ask where I can find cooling racks. Here is the response I got.

"Go to the 2nd floor, in ‘home goods', in the baking section, and it should be there, if its not there, then we don't have any"

Me, "uh, if there is none, when will you be expecting them?"

Her "like I said, if we have them, that's where they would be, you have to check"

Me "uh, I have to ask, but do you even sell them?"

Her "I don't know, I work in customer service, you may have to ask someone in home goods which is on the second floor, as you can see, I work on the third floor, NEXT!!!!!".

So I walked away, no closer to getting my cooling racks then when I walked in the store. .

Long story short, I couldn't find my cooling racks, I did look, but I also couldn’t find someone in home goods to help me.

But I did find these cute heart shaped valentine bake pans. The only problem was, I didn't know how much they cost. But at the end of the aisle, in neon lights, was this little machine attached to the wall where I can scan my item and it tells me exactly how much it cost.

At that moment, I realized, I didn’t have to wait on another line to find out how much those heart shaped baking pans costs while I decide if I was going to buy them with everyone looking at me with evil eyes while I decided. . Plus, there is no guarantee if the cashier would even know what the cost would be I can see it now, " Jeffery, can you go to the home goods department and get me another heart shaped baking pan, it seems they got one with NO price tag on it!", Evil eyes, here they come. Not this time mister, I know exactly how much it costs

So, how do I feel about these' do it your self' checkouts? Well, I really hate the fact that someone is out of a job. But I also realize that this is our future. I read it in that 'no name magazine' in my doctors office whose name I cant pronounce, never alone spell. I just have to get use to it.

Would I prefer a human being, absolutely? No doubt about it. But I think those machines are here to stay.

But you know what, you know what I really think should happen, is the least they can do, is that the machine can at least say "oppps our fault, not yours" so your not on everyone’s hit list.

Ok, now off to find a doctor named Smith.


  1. LOL. I hate those do-it-yourself aisles too - it's like the fairground "thread the metal hoop along the wire without setting the buzzer off" tricks. Impossible to get through without something going wrong and the machine telling the whole shop about it.

  2. You have my sympathy! I too felt moved to write a blog post about those self-service machines last summer -

    You have to laugh or you'd cry!