Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Observations from lunch

I just returned from my midday meal break with many observations.

First, the closest shopping area from where I work is in what would normally be considered a low-income neighborhood. I could be wrong, but there is evidence that fits this demographic:

  • Neighborhood treats shopping carts as community property
  • Lots of gray-haired, fixed income citizens
  • Lots of broken down cars in parking lots
  • Tons of payday loan establishments
  • I pass by three "cheap smokes" places in less than one mile

Today the lines at the store were longer than normal so I figured the state must have mailed out the food stamps recently. (actually at this very store I learned that our state distributes debit cards with certain amounts available on them instead of stamps) Along with the long lines the pop and candy aisle was more packed than usual.



After getting a couple of corn dogs from the deli (which was also too busy to ring up my item there) I walked to the front to pay for my items and leave. This store (Fred Meyer) has four U-Scan stations where you can check yourself out acting as your own cashier. I figured my best bet to fight the crowd was to duck into one of these stations, work my debit card skills and get out.

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There was already a long line to use the U-Scans and the four who were at each station didn't appear to be moving anywhere soon. One woman had a coupon for ice cream that was expired or for a different brand, another woman needed her ID checked for the case of beer she was buying, one other lady was trying to enter the code for onions to no avail and then there was this one guy.

This guy I imagine was in his early 60's and was dutifully obeying every command that the U-Scan was telling him to do. The problem began when the machine was mixed up and wasn't able to finish the transaction. Here is how the next four minutes went. (yes, I timed it.)

U-Scan Machine: Please place the item in the bag

Gentleman: (places item in bag)

U-Scan Machine: Please take the last item out of the bag

Gentleman: (lifts item out of bag)

U-Scan Machine: Please place the item in the bag

Gentleman: (places item in bag)

U-Scan Machine: Please take the last item out of the bag

Gentleman: (lifts item out of bag)

U-Scan Machine: Please take the last item out of the bag


Repeat this scenario eleven more times

Finally this guy threw the item on the floor and yelled, "I don't want it anymore!"

Most people turned their heads away to not look at the man or to disguise their smirks to preserve the man's dignity. Not me, I just stood there laughing. I picked up the bag for the gentleman and asked the attendent to help the man who was frustrated beyond words. To be honest, I didn't pity him. That could've been me in his shoes. He just needed some help.

No one was at fault here. The attendent had her hands full, the U-Scan's can be confusing, the gentleman just wanted to be able to buy his items and leave, and well...I laughed. I did my best to help but the damage was already done.

I bought my corn dogs five minutes later.

1 comment:

little one said...

That is awesome. I am a master of the self-check at Albertson's, but sometimes you've got to be taken through a process like that to remember: you don't need this thing that bad. But eleven times! Two points for the old man just for being so determined!!