Saturday, July 9, 2011

Retail Checkout Blues

I will be the very first person to admit that I can sometimes (well okay lots of times) be a bit (well okay a lot) impatient. I really don't do it on purpose and it's not a predictable character flaw as to when it will kick in. I try to convince my wife that is all part of the wonders and mysteries of learning every day a little bit more about the person you married. While my descent into impatience is unpredictable, I can guarantee you of one instance when it will kick in every...single...time. The time I spend waiting to have my purchases totalled up in ANY shopping environment is a meltdown waiting to happen.

My wife and I are often at odds over this. My goal is to go in to the store, get the items I want/need and escape in the most timely manner possible. For my wife, being a former cashier, shopping is as much a social interaction opportunity as it is a quest to get home with all of the items we set out to get in the first place. Of, perhaps, five possible lanes to check out through, my wife has been known to skip one with only one customer there (I don't like her so not going through her lane). Instead, she will stand in one that is six people deep just to chat with a friend working that register. That's usually when that big vein in my forehead rises to full prominence.

Another shopping point we differ on is the use of self-service checkout lanes. I figure that anything that removes a human obstacle from my intent to get the heck back out of the store in record time is a boon. My wife feels that they are evil and steal work away from humans. She gladly embraces vampires, zombies and flesh-eating insects but fears automation. Go figure.  So, instead of using the evil robotic checkout, I compromise and we wind up in the "15 items or less" lane. This is usually a prime opportunity for that vein swelling too.

I have yet to comprehend (though my honey has tried ad nauseum to explain it to me) WHY, in any given store, the cashier on the express register is the single slowest-moving creature in captivity. Tortoises zip by these hapless creatures like cheetahs on the hunt. This is, invariably, a cashier with two to five major limitations to their mobility (old, gout, bad heart, carpal tunnel, etc). Checking out through this "express" lane has been known to leave me twitching and mumbling in a corner by the time the experience has ended.

So, you can imagine my dismay when I was checking the online news today to find that Albertson's and several other major store chains are nixxing their self-serve lanes in favor of customers having more human interaction with the store staff. I'm quite sure they did extensive demographic and market-trend research before arriving at their decisions, but I fear that a segment of their customer base MAY have been slighted or overlooked.

The customers in question would be those like me. I hate to break it to their research folks, but I don't WANT social interaction when I shop. I don't WANT to get to know Employee #17 any better than I already do. What I WANT is to get out of the grocery and on to one of about say..a bazillion!...other things that I need to get done today. What I WANT is to get my 'fridge and freezer items bagged and home before any of a number of offending predatory bacteria set in on them. What I WANT is to get out of the whole shopping experience before I waste any more of the unknown amount of remaining life I may have left in their retail establishment.

I just want...out. I want to do my very best to adhere to my friend Walter's sage advice of, "Welcome to Wal-Mart! Get your sh*t and get out!!" Trust me Walter, I'm trying bud...I'm trying.

1 comment:

  1. Ummm, it is a 25 items or less line and they are not slow. You are just impatient. And those self checkouts are evil and not as cuddly as a vampire.