Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November Blog #2: "Self Check-Me-Out!"

 So, I was at the grocery store today and all of the lines were full and I wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible.  I wasn’t in an incredible hurry, but the lines were annoying me and I decided to give the self check out line a try once again.  SIDENOTE:  SCO and I met for the first time one Christmas Eve, an excruciating encounter which left me questioning the exact practicality of such a service.  I have, though, since used it on occasion, usually when I only have a couple of items and want to check out quickly.  With such occasions I have found that when used with only a moderate amount of items, it does seem practical.  There is, however, really a spectrum of inconvenience vs. convenience when it comes to the Self Check-Out, it seems.  This begs the question:
IS the Self-Check-Out line at the grocery store REALLY quicker?

I guess like everything it would depend on circumstances.  At times, its purpose can be put to proper use and you can buzz in and out with relative speed, having a ball playing cashier, because, let’s face it, it’s fun when you aren’t the one bagging and swiping all day.  It doesn’t seem, though, very practical when you have a large amount of items, especially ones that are unmarked or of the produce variety, because from personal experience, problems of patience can arise. 

Any mother can tell you that the act of shopping alone has the potential to be trying on your patience enough as it is.  (Unless, of course, you should happen to find yourself kid free on a spree with an unlimited credit card that is billed to someone else!)  At this point, my 14 month old daughter seems to enjoy shopping even more than I do, mind you, but she also chooses to spend most of our browsing and selecting time playing the pick up game.  I am usually able to successfully fend her off with odd items I approve of her playing with at the store that will be stimulating, safe, and unbreakable.  (Today she eyed up and I gave her a kiddy bowl with a pig head lid that resembles a pig plate she has at home).  After keeping her at bay and locating all of our needs, I just wanted to get out of there as soon as possible like most moms on a mission.  On a whim, I opted for the self check out line.  The first two lanes were in use, but a cashier who was packing bags at lane 3 told me lane 4 was open.  Aha!  I’ll take it. 

Today I had a modestly full cart.  I needed just a “few things” as I told my sister, which was true; I was only planning on getting mainly the baby’s bananas, yogurt, and milk, but we ALL know where that leads, right?  (Which is exactly why in our home Wal-Mart is jokingly referred to as, among other more blatantly insulting names, “THE [hundred] DOLLAR STORE”).  But even after adding in a few impulse buys and some last minute memory-sparked necessities, I was still able to keep today’s purchase comfortably shy of $100. 

I starting scanning everything through and worked on bagging it simultaneously while my sister helped stimulate the baby with a viddy at the tabloids.   For the last part of the check out she was helping me scan items and I was bagging everything up.  We were down to the last two items: a small houseplant and a whole rotisserie chicken.  My sister scanned the plant and put it on the belt and the thing for some reason sent it back multiple times in a belt line dance I have never seen before.  Long story short, it ended up ringing up the plant 4 times.  The self check out assistant/bagger/cashier extraordinaire came over to assist us, putting her code in and all that good stuff.  I watched her punch into the system and go to remove the multiples.  She removed one, but it only voided single items at a time, so she had to remove the other 3 the same way.  She went to go through the process again and ended up accidentally choosing to void my entire transaction!  I could have crapped. 
It was immediately apparent how incredibly bad the cashier felt.  She put her hand over her mouth and literally gasped “I’m so sorry”.  I had no choice but to laugh about the situation.  I think the poor girl apologized to me possibly 38 times throughout the entire experience.   

There was, obviously, no other choice but to remove everything from the bagging area where I had already bagged everything, and scan it all over again.  I reassured her it was not a big deal and not to worry about it, but would appreciate some help with the matter.  We decided she would re-bag and I would re-scan.  It was nice I had my sister with me to occupy the baby while we went through it a first and second time, though.  Meanwhile, the cashier continued to apologize to me over and over again.  She said she was already having a bad day so I told her it was a good thing it happened with me then instead of someone that was in a real hurry and would give her a hard time about it.  “That’s a good way to look at it, I guess” I told her.  I meant it to make her feel better, because it was obvious she felt like an ass, but I’m afraid she may have taken it the wrong way. 

What the cashier and I both found odd about the mishap was that the system didn’t even ask the girl if she was sure that she wanted to void the entire transaction.  We’re continuously asked on most programs, “Are you sure you want to delete?”  I felt bad for her, because it really wasn’t a big deal to me, just one of those humorous pain in the ass kind of things that you can laugh (or blog) about later.  She felt worse than I did, I’m sure. 

All in all, this encounter with the inconveniently convenient Self Check-Out Line was definitely better than that first Christmas Eve’s.  The cashier wasn’t required for every other item scanned this time and I wasn’t in the rush and stress of the holiday season.  I wasn’t a mama yet at the time either.  That cashier girl is lucky; if all of those stressors were stacked together at the same time against her, this may have been a less passive blog. Haah. 

[ What has been your experience with the Self Check-Out Line?   ]

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