LX – Serve Yourself

It seems like everywhere you go, there are more and more self-checkout terminals, self-order kiosks and online order/pickup apps. They’re in grocery stores, Walmart, Target, fast food places like McDonald’s and Taco Bell, etc. Hell, they’ve become ubiquitous.

Opponents of these computerized registers say that they’re taking away jobs from people and minimizing human interaction. Others claim that they refuse to use self-checkout since they don’t work for the company—they claim that scanning items is the employees’ job.

Many of those in favor of the self-checkout and online apps claim convenience. Some don’t want the hassle of dealing with unpleasant employees. Others don’t want to talk to anyone—just get what they need and go.

Many who know me will attest to the fact that I am of the latter group, the ones who favor self-checkouts. In fact, I always choose the self-checkout whenever it’s an option. My local Walmart closes all the self-checkout lanes after I think 22:00, so you are forced to use one single register, operated by a human. In my case, if I plan ahead, I’ll go to a different Walmart, one with self-checkouts open 24/7. The self-serve registers/kiosks are an anti-social (or socially awkward) introvert’s dream come true. I totally despise the small talk of the cashier, the “did you find everything?” and other mundane and unnecessary questions. Why deal with that when you can just go to the emotionless, non-verbal self-scanning station, buy your stuff and go.

As to the deal of jobs, there’s a person who assists those who need it, and labor costs can be reduced by having one person watch four to eight terminals, rather than one per register. There’s also a reduced chance of theft. People can steal, machines don’t. Besides, if the public didn’t want these machines in general, why would everyplace be spending thousands per terminal to have them installed? Additionally, many Americans don’t want to be tied to that computer terminal for their whole shift. I’ve worked in fast food and gas station as a cashier, and it was never easy for me. Not the using the register—the talking and constantly smiling part. In every place you deal with people, you’re supposed to be constantly smiling and pretending to be happy, and you’re supposed to be actively engaging someone within a certain distance, for example, five feet. For me, that’s too much smiling and socializing. For an extrovert or ambivert, that’s great. But for someone like me, who according to the Myers-Briggs personality system is 100% introverted, it’s like playing YouTube on your phone for hours on end—it depletes the social battery. For introverts, that social battery is like the battery of a ten-year-old smartphone📵. Whenever extroverts socialize, they’re social batteries get charged; they can’t seem to get enough.

As great as self-serve kiosks are, certain people should not be allowed to use them. For example, anyone who can’t operate a smartphone or other technology should be prohibited. If you still have a Motorola Razr or the Nokia 3310 from 2000, go see a cashier, please. There should also be an age limit to using these devices. I say this from an experience I had earlier this week. I went to Walmart to pick up a few things—eggs, bread and something else. Just a couple of things. I get to the register, and all four self-checkouts are occupied by old people (the euphemistic “senior citizens”) who had to be all in their 70s or later. One lady took one item, examined every square inch of the package for the bar code, scanned, then put the item not in a bag, but in a quaint wicker basket in the cart. Then proceeded to the next item in the same fashion, organizing her wicker basket every time, then repeated again for the other 30 items in her cart. Another register had a couple who had to examine the whole screen for the button to push, then press hard and deliberately. Then couldn’t figure out how to work the card reader (do I insert the card? Which direction do I hold the card to swipe?🤦‍♂️) Still another had a person with two dozen items. They could only grab one thing at a time, then put literally everything in the fucking cart onto the bagging area. The bagging scale is deactivated, so you can fill a bag and put it in your cart and continue. But did he? NOOOOOOO. He had to awkwardly rearrange multiple bags to fit everything into that two-foot-square surface😣. Anyway, this ordeal continued for what seemed like forever; in actuality it was probably fifteen minutes, but way too long for someone with only three items and in a hurry🤬. Finally the couple with the card finished, and before they got five feet from the machine, I was already over there scanning my last item. They then have the audacity to scowl at me like I was rushing them. Okay, I was. But hey, Karen, go through a regular cashier so you can chit chat bullshit small talk with them and let my happy little ass in and out.3afnfg

Sure, sometimes I’m “that guy” who will take a cartload through that little self-checkout, but if the option is there, I sure as hell am not going to deal with a human cashier. That’s why I was so happy to see one local Walmart (the one that has the self-serve open all night), in their recent remodel, install kiosks with a belt—like the human-operated registers—for big purchases like that🥳.

I don’t have anything against old people, per se. I just hate when people take forever when I’m rushing. Like when you’re walking down an aisle, and the couple in front of you are taking their sweet-ass time looking at everything and you can’t get around them. Or, in traffic, when you’re late and everyone else is driving five under like they’re on a scenic Sunday drive, while you hit every red light possible. The worst is those times when your light turns red for no reason: no cross traffic, no oncoming turning traffic. Then it sits there for what seems like forever…I guess some days Murphy’s Law really does apply: anything that can go wrong will go wrong, at the worst possible moments😵.

So ends yet another installment in the continuing saga of my rants. Remember to like my posts, here, on Facebook and Instagram (“Ray’s Rants of the Week” on both) and tell your friends. Maybe they’ll get a kick out of this, too. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoy writing this. Have a peaceful and prosperous week. All things willing, there’ll be a new post next week. Until then, [insert name of desired deity or higher power here] be with you, be safe and be well.

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