What better inspiration for a blog than one’s firsthand experience of something incredibly annoying? Recently, I was at Albertson’s patiently waiting for one of the four self-checkout kiosks to become available. I waited in line for what felt like an eternity (6 minutes), because the four other patrons ahead of me had a combined IQ of 17.
When grocery stores first introduced the self-checkout kiosks, they were God’s gift to man. The inept, the decrepit, the fearful, the outright lazy, and parents with kids dared not venture into the strange land of do-it-yourself. Why spend time scanning groceries when there’s a kid 10 feet away perfectly willing to do it for me, and bag my groceries alphabetically.
But one day the unthinkable happened. The sky darkened. Stupid people became more brazen, and starting using self-checkout.
Self-checkout machines were not invented as a form of entertainment, or to raise your self-esteem. The whole point behind the self-checkout lane was (and still is!) for people with only a few items to get in and out as fast as possible. All the rules about how to use and how to not use the self-checkout kiosks boils down to one thing: Hurry the fuck up.
Have Payment and Sufficient Funds Ready
What better way to look like an ass than to be caught pants down at the kiosk, fumbling for your credit card or digging in your pockets for an extra 17 cents. The kiosk didn’t just pop out of nowhere and boom, suddenly you’re first in line and caught off guard. While you’re making your last pass down aisle 12 and begin making your way to the register, you should be getting your ducks in a row. As soon as you find yourself staring down that machine, you should be hitting the ground running, ready to scan, swipe, bag, and bounce.
Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast
A for effort for the people who try to be quick. But if you’re going so fast every other item doesn’t get scanned, then F for execution. You know in the slasher films where the girl is being chased by the killer, and she’s trying to unlock a door but she can’t, because her hands are so jittery she can’t even stick a key in a damn lock? That’s how you look when you try to be a show off at the self-checkout. Take it easy, and scan each item methodically. If you really want to be quick, remember this one piece of advice: Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, every time you purchase alcohol a store rep has to come over, check your ID, and type in some authorization code that seems to take an eternity. Even though the store lets you, the unwritten law is don’t go to the self-checkout if you’re buying alcohol because it holds up the line. As a matter of fact, when at self-checkouts, don’t purchase alcohol, cigarettes, or any products that require you to present an ID or get help from a store clerk.
If what you’re buying needs to be weighed, or if you have to manually scroll through an endless list of different breeds of tomatoes, then you don’t belong in the self-checkout lane. Women tend to be the biggest offenders of this rule, probably because women are more likely to buy produce, and men are more likely to buy frozen pizzas. If you’re getting one banana, your sins are forgivable. If you’re into juicing, or it looks like Carmen Miranda is hiding in your basket, then you need to get in a regular line. The rule here is: If it has a bar-code then get it. If it requires a scale then forget it.
In this instance, women are the only offenders. Coupon collectors are already annoying enough as it is when you’re in a regular line with a skilled cashier who knows what the hell they’re doing. Imagine the frustration of everyone in line behind you as you un-crumple a million paper coupons and tediously scan each one. The whole point of the self-checkout is expedience, not thriftiness. If you want to use coupons, get your ass in the regular line.
10 Items or Less
Yo mother fucker, I see you over there and that’s clearly 12 items.
Seriously though, be courteous. I’ve noticed people have started breaking the 10 items or less rule in the regular express checkout lane. It’s becoming the new speed limit. The sign says 65, but we all drive 70, and cops let you slide by without a ticket.
If you require the use of a shopping cart to hold your entire purchase, then you don’t belong in the self-checkout. Baskets only people!
Leave the Kids at Home
This is a store, not kindergarten. If you can’t find a sitter, fine. But make sure your kids are well behaved, and most importantly, don’t let your kid use the machine. Yes, you win the parent of the year award for wanting to teach your toddler how to buy groceries, but when there’s a line of people behind you, set the kid aside and make haste. Kids are slow, and if they touch the wrong button or mess up the machine, then a clerk has to come over to bail you out. Teach your kid something useful like how to file taxes, and do it on your own time.
Bag at the End
It sounds counter intuitive but from personal experience I’ve found it’s usually easier and faster if you bag your items after you’ve paid. When scanning, simply place the items on the weight tray. The kiosks usually take 5-10 seconds and the end of each transaction to process your cash or credit card payment. Use this time to two-birds-it and bag your groceries while the machine is wrapping up your purchase and printing the receipt.