2008: A Supermarket Self-Checkout Odyssey

As the customer approaches the self-checkout machine, an eerily feminine computerized voice intones:

Welcome! If you have a Preferred Shoppers’ Club Card, please scan it now.

The customer fumbles for a card.

Welcome! If you have a Preferred Shoppers’ Club Card, please scan it now.

The card is located, and it is scanned with a [doink!].

Para Español, numero dos.

The card is scanned again: [doink!]

For English, number one.

The card is scanned again: [doink!]

Para Español, numero dos.

The card is scanned again: [doink!]

For English, number one.

The card is scanned again: [doink!]

Para Español, numero dos.

The card is scanned again: [doink!]

Thank you for scanning your Preferred Shoppers’ Club Card! Please scan your first item and place it on the conveyor as shown on the monitor screen.

[doink!]

Sixteen … dollars and … eighty-nine … cents. The item scanned is too heavy for the conveyor. Please remove all items from the conveyor and wait for assistance. Help is on the way.

The item is removed. A minute passes.

Please remove all items from the conveyor and wait for assistance. Help is on the way.

The kid who sat at a desk staring vacantly at the self-checkout lane for the last minute now gets up and waddles over. “Just put it on the floor at the end of the lane,” she says, “and ignore that.”

The next items are scanned, and they roll down the conveyor and collect in front of the bags at the end of the lane. In the middle of scanning the next item —

[doink]

I’m sorry. The bagging area is full. Please bag some items and continue scanning.

The customer bags some items and resumes scanning. Two items later —

[doink]

I’m sorry. The bagging area is full. Please bag some items and continue scanning.

However, this time the bagging is not done quickly enough, and —

Please remove all items from the conveyor and wait for assistance. Help is on the way.

One minute later, the machine will scan no more:

Please remove all items from the conveyor and wait for assistance. Help is on the way.

One minute later, the non-functional aisle continues to bark:

Please remove all items from the conveyor and wait for assistance. Help is on the way.

The Dead-Eyed Kid again gets up and slopes to the rescue. “What the heck is wrong with this thing? I’m going to have to cancel this out, and we’ll have to do it all over again from the start.”

The customer goes to another aisle.

FIN.

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One Response to “2008: A Supermarket Self-Checkout Odyssey”

  1. Allison Says:

    The self-checkout scanner and the War Game Computer. Which is scarier?

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