I played hooky yesterday from just about everything. I forced myself to do a couple of loads of laundry just so I wouldn’t sit up all night chastising myself for general sloth.

Among other wild goose chases yesterday, Art and I went to a “big box” home improvement store. We didn’t find most of what we wanted. Isn’t that always the way)? But we had a couple of very small items. Rather than wait in the line that went out the door and around the block for the (human) cashier, we decided to try the automated cashier.

Have you ever done this? Perhaps this is an innovation that has not hit your hometown yet. Just wait.

You still stand in line, of course, but the line is shorter. We found out why.

A disembodied voice that seems to emanate from the heavens welcomes you. In our case, it welcomed us in Spanish. We looked at the computer screen, and sure enough, all the written instructions were in Spanish. Now, I speak a little Spanish, so I probably could have struggled my way through it – but Art doesn’t speak Spanish, and besides, even if we could have figured it all out, there were about five people waiting behind us, and we were very afraid of their reaction if they were kept waiting in line for half an hour while we tried to translate.

Art called over to the young woman who was seated in a kind of catbird perch about ten feet away. She was kind of the overseer for the whole operation. He asked her if she would please change the machine to English, since no matter what he did, he couldn’t seem to knock it out of Spanish mode. She said she couldn’t do that, so Art struggled with the thing for another two or three minutes while the people behind us rolled their eyes, tapped their toes, hummed, and swore under their breath. Art called out to the young woman again, and this time she said, “Okay”. A few seconds later, the machine greeted us in English so that we could start all over again.

It asked us to scan our item. Art scanned the item. Then it said, “Place the item in the bagging area”, and Art had already started to scan the next item, but the machine refused to scan the next item until the first item was in the bag. Somehow, in the confusion of the moment, Art mistakenly scanned the first item twice. He had to call out to the young overseer again, and she started the whole process over.

Finally, Art was able to successfully scan the first item, drop it in the bag, and scan the second item, then drop it in the bag. (I can’t figure out how the darn thing knows whether or not you have bagged your item). Finally, we were able to walk out of the store, receipt in hand. Of course, we had to stop at the door for a security check. Then we were on our way.

Looking back to the first line which we had eschewed for the automated line, I noticed that we would have been long gone already, had we opted to go that way.

I don’t know about you, but for Art and me, I think we’ll stick with the old fashioned kind of cashier. And maybe next time we’ll skip the “big box” concept altogether and go to our local hardware store. At least there we don’t have to dodge the forklifts.

© 2005, Robin Munson

 Category: Humor Robin's Nest

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