What is there to say? I'm not very interesting. I'm not a good writer. I don't even dress well. If you insist on knowing something about me just wander through the archives. It's all there.

Monday, October 10, 2005

On automated self serve checkout lanes

I do not use the “U-scan” lanes at the store. Even if the registers are busy and I only have a few items behind the lady with a filing cabinet full of coupons, I wait in line for a cashier.

It is not that I like waiting. I hate waiting. I have on more than one occasion impatiently walked out of a store leaving my cart behind, because they had only three out of thirty registers open with lines halfway down the aisles. No, it is not that I enjoy waiting.

I do not like machines that talk to me. They do it so poorly that it is annoying. It is like listening to endless voicemail options. I can feel my blood pressure rise and the vessels in my brain start exploding after, “Press 38 for …”. The self-serve lanes at the grocery store are not only annoying, but I find them to be somewhat condescending. Like a third grade teacher telling you “put away your books now”, I am instructed to, “place your purchase into the bag (you half-wit)”. The parentheses are mine, but the sentiment has certainly been electronically encoded into that female voice. Why can’t they invest in a little more memory and, at least, have a joke-of-the-day or a local weather report? Perhaps, with a little more processing power, a pleasant compliment about "how nice your hair looks, today” or a “did you see the game last night?” question could be programmed.

I stood in line last evening and eavesdropped on the cashier talking to the “lady with a filing cabinet full of coupons” in front of me. I realized that the strongest reason I have for not using the talking machines is that that cashier needs to feed and clothe her family. She has to raise her children (three of them, I heard her say.). She needs the job that my purchases provide. Do I want my few cents to go to her or be used to enrich the bottom line of the store’s owners? Perhaps, deep down, I can see myself standing there someday inquiring about the desirability of paper or plastic.


Post a Comment

<< Home