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Friday, December 21, 2007

Oranges are great, but how do you scan them?

This article was in the Ogden Standard Examiner. I THINK I HAVE BEEN TO THIS STORE!!

Oranges are great, but how do you scan them?

I’m in the grocery store. It’s late, I’m tired, and I need just a couple of things. So I scramble through the nearly empty store, grab the items I’m after, which include a sheet cake, and head to the checkout stand.
Strange. There’s no one there. Not a customer, and not a checker. Just me. I wander up and down, peering around, wondering if it’s shoplifting if you lay some money on the counter and just walk out with your stuff.
Finally a checker emerges from somewhere and silently points at the self-checkout stand. Noticing my dismay, she speaks, “You can check yourself out there.” She then parks herself at the station near the self-checkout stands in a stance that clearly states, “If you want that stuff, you’re going to have to get it yourself.”
I am not a fan of do-it-yourself checking. I figure that the prices I pay for groceries ought to cover someone checking them out for me, bagging them, carrying them out to my car, and staying long enough to wash my car and give it a good waxing.
No waxing tonight. Not even checking. So I glumly approach the scanit-yourself stand, arms loaded. I get one finger loose to punch the “Begin” button on the screen. A perfect female voice (just curious — why is it always female?) says, “Welcome” which I don’t believe because if I really was welcome, I wouldn’t be checking out my own stuff.
Anyway, “Welcome. If you have a Values Preferred Fresh card, scan it now.” The Voice is talking about a card that supposedly earns shoppers discounts on store merchandise, which has been marked up in anticipation of at least some shoppers using their card, and too bad for the rest of the folks who shop there.
In my scramble to find that card in my wallet, I set the sheet cake down on the scanning table. The Voice says, “Please remove all items from the scanner, and scan your Values Preferred Fresh card.” Balancing the cake, I use one hand and my teeth to extract the card from my wallet. I scan the card, and the Voice instructs, “Please scan your first item.”
I scan it, then hear, “Place the item in the bag.” I mechanically follow this instruction for each item, until I get to the oranges. How do I scan an orange? I think I’m supposed to punch in some numbers, but what numbers? I look around for Miss Checker, but she’s abandoned her post and is now at a regular check-out stand, smiling and chatting with three young men while she checks and bags their cartload of groceries.
I see.
I decide I don’t want the oranges any more. I look around for a place to put them that is not a scanning table. I find a new use for magazine display racks.
My final item is the sheet cake, which I scan. The Voice instructs, “Place the item in the bag.” I ignore that statement, since a sheet cake is not meant to be placed in a bag. Miss Voice gets testy with me. “Place the item in the bag,” she repeats, several times. I finally lean on the bagging counter hoping that might help. She responds, “Remove the item from the bag and scan it.”
I ignore her and punch the “Finished” button. She counters, “Select method of payment.” I punch “Personal Check.” She instructs, “Please write check as shown.” I study the picture. Apparently someone named John Smith will pay for my groceries if I write my check “as shown.” Going with my gut feeling, I sign my own name. And then, since Miss Checker is still busy socializing, I lay my check on her station and leave.
I think of the mounds of ads I get from this store, and countless others. I have a suggestion. If you really want my patronage, then when I walk into your store, be there for me. Don’t run when you see me coming. Talk to me. Smile at me. Act like you’re glad I’m there. Help me find things. Check my stuff out for me when I’m ready to leave.
And don’t ever ask me to scan an orange.

D. Louise Brown

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