My local supermarket has adopted the practice of self serve on an optional basis. You can continue to wait in line to be served and have your items bagged for you, or you can choose to do it all yourself. I find myself so well trained to be an independent operator that I have quickly found myself being my own ‘checkout chick’ to use a colloquial term.
Some people lament the loss of old fashioned service. However, in this situation I find I actually prefer to serve myself, rather than wait for someone to serve me, particularly when I don’t have many items to purchase. I do get frustrated when the technology fails, but my efficiency has improved with practice and it results in me spending the minimum amount of time in the supermarket. Now, that’s a great outcome. I like the idea of getting in, getting what you need and getting away. Life is too short to waste in the aisles of the supermarket.
I am familiar with checking groceries, having worked for a short time at a food co-operative in Park Slope,
It is interesting to watch the ’newbies,’ -those consumers unfamiliar with the demands of this new system. There is an element of fear in their eyes as they tentatively work their way through the process. The checkout machines ask questions and give prompts at a rate that quickly has them flustered. Some commence talking to the machine, (a disturbing action) while others appeal for help from a partner, the person next to them, or they look to the heavens for divine deliverance. They need not fear, a conveniently located consumer support operative employed by the supermarket stands at the ready to rescue the hapless and fight for supermarket sanity! These lovely people, equipped with eternal smiles, rescue people throughout their rostered shift.. They are the life guards of the checkout station.
Some befuddled consumers adopt a look indicating they want to be beamed up and out of the predicament in which they find themselves. At the very least, they wish they had a brown paper shopping bag lodged on their head. I see people displaying a quiet determination. They remain calm and work their way through the challenge, no matter how long it takes. They walk away just a little taller, despite the weight of their shopping bags. There goes persistence personified! The music rises in my head and I can clearly hear the Finn Brothers singing, ‘It means that I won’t give in, won’t give, won’t give in…’
As I stand watching this theatre of the food palace unfold, I find myself thinking that the self serve section of the supermarket is a metaphor for problem solving. Some persist, while others flame and burn and melt; vowing never to revisit such discomforting fortune. Who would have thought that standing at the checkout would reveal so much? PRICE CHECK ON AISLE THREE!