Friday, September 17, 2010

Supermarket or Farmer's Market part two, Checkout Chaos

It never ceases to amaze me how an HMCS will advertise how much they value their customers. I mean really, they greet you at the door with a half-hearted “Welcome to our HMCS,” and then walking through the store it seems as though the employees are too busy or maybe too disillusioned to even so much as smile or ask if you need help finding anything. But the real irony is that now-days, at the end of a visit you are checked out by a machine. Well let me share about my last experience with a self-checkout machine.

On my last visit to my local HMCS I got into it with one of these nasty little units. I mean, talk about a lack of personal care. This little robot was scolding me before I even got started. I was greeted with an, “Unexpected item in the bagging area.”

“What,” I thought, “I haven’t even taken anything out of my cart!” This must have been the last customer’s error…geeze!!

Not liking how this relationship was starting out, I looked over at the other checkout lines to see how many were actually manned by a human. I spot one lady checker working furiously to checkout a long line of people which should say something to the HMCS executives. “PEOPLE LIKE TO DO BUSINESS WITH PEOPLE!!!”

I decide that even though I hate it, I will stick with the robot because I don’t have enough time to wait for a human being which I am pretty sure was part of the HMCS executives’ plan all along. I press the start in English button and the madness begins.

“Please scan your shopper’s card or scan your first item.”

I scan my card. “Unexpected item in the bagging area.”

“What, I haven’t even scanned anything yet!”

I cautiously scan my first item which seems to work. I then struggle for a few seconds to open the plastic bag thinking, that I wasn’t even given a choice between paper or plastic. If there is one thing I struggle with it is opening plastic bags and I take about 10 seconds to do this instead of 5 and because of my slowness the stupid robot shouts, “Please put the item in the bagging area!”

“Man,” I think, “who programs these stupid things?”

I am only given a few seconds to get the can of soup into the bag before this ridiculous machine starts telling me I’m going too slow. I mean, this is a can of soup, not a hand-grenade. What’s the big hurry?

I get through the canned items and the dairy items with about the same level of harassment. On several occasions an attendant in summoned who I politely tell that I’ll let him know when I need his help. Sensing my frustration he shyly backs away. I finish with the canned goods and boxed goods dreading what is about to come…..the produce! This is when the real drama begins.

The first item is a bunch of bananas. Fortunately these are not in plastic so I can read the product code. Of course the machine doesn’t know I can read so it summons the attendant whom I brush away reminding him I’ll call him when I need him. Next are the apples. I can’t read the code so I decide to look it up in the machine’s data-base, not a good idea! “Item not found” the machine bellows.

What do you mean, “Item not found?” I ask out loud.

“4033,” the attendant chimes.

“Oh great now he’s getting in on the harassment,” I think to myself. By this time I am starting to get frazzled and in turn am making more mistakes. Not thinking I place the apples in the bagging area, a big mistake.

The robot, now blaring shouts, “ Unexpected item in the bagging area!”

“Huh,” I think.

“You need to place them on the scale,” the attendant says in a scolding manner.

“Well pardon my ignorance,” I think to myself.

This chaos goes on for another few minutes until I finally get this nasty little unit to accept my apples. This whole leaves me the feeling that I have been demoted all the way back to the second grade! Then, I look over to see that the last person in the human manned line has already left.

“I should have gotten in that line,” I sigh thinking back to a time when a friendly checker would chit-chat with me while the bagger asked if I wanted paper or plastic and if I wanted help out to the car. I wonder, almost out loud, if those days are gone forever. As my stress subsides and my thoughts begin to clear, I think to myself, “The Farmer’s Market’s, I need to shop more at the Farmer’s Market’s.”

Stay tuned for part three coming next week.  In the meantime, Happy Gardening!

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