Saturday, November 13, 2010

and behaving badly in the safeway self check-out line

Really, I do know better.  I know better than to use the self check-out at Safeway.  I have never managed to get through that experience without being supremely irritated, the machine asking for items that I don't have, challenging the weight of that particular box of brownie mix as if I have anything at all to do with that.  Today was no exception.  And now I am regretting making the choice of the self check-out, even though the regular check-out lines looked even more insane.  I annoyed and embarrassed my kid and just generally acted like an asshole.

I know this is one of those petty annoyances of modern life, like endless voice mail shenanigans of "Press 1 for this, Press 7 if you can't remember the last 6 god damn options."  I assume the supermarket chain is making money by putting one poor harried employee in charge of 6 self check-out lanes.  I can only imagine that on a Saturday afternoon like this one, that job is a huge pain in the ass.

But really: say "This is a one-person job, ma'am" in that condescending tone one more time.  Go on: awaken the sleeping Jules, I dare you.

Yes, when finally, the really, really tall woman working the 6 self check-out registers made her way to where we were trying unsuccessfully to get past the "unexpected weight detected" message on the touch-tone screen, after I chased her around, trying to get her attention while customer after customer cut ahead of me, when finally she came over to help us, she said, "Let me tell you how this works."  I said, "No, can you please just clear that error message?"  She responded, "This is a one-person job, ma'am," and simply would not believe that while my son was trying to scan things, I was doing nothing, standing by or alternately chasing her around the store, trying to get help.  When I said, "I wasn't doing anything," she responded, like a robot, "It's a one-woman job, ma'am.  Let me tell you how this works."

After lecturing me in monotone, she did clear the error message.  But we couldn't help repeating to each other, "This is a one-person job, ma'am" over and over, just to get through the frustration of the experience.  It gave me only a little pleasure to realize that we used the button for regular bananas instead of organic when prompted, because we were so excited to see the right picture and eager to be done.  So we saved a little money, but I don't feel good about any of it.

I know that Joe, truly my much-better half, is able to get through the self check-out just fine.  He is infinitely more patient and much less of a jerk.  So, just like my self-imposed ban from Trader Joe's for a few years, I'll be avoiding the self check-out from here forward.  Even if it takes longer, it's so much better for me and everyone else if I side-step the shop-rage.  Such a paradox, since I'd generally rather not deal with people if there's a machine option.  But it turns out that actually it's so much better for me to wait longer, make chit-chat with the checker, spy on the next-person-in-line's food choices.  As long as the person ahead of me doesn't write a check, it should be just fine.

And here's Jules.

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