Sunday, April 7, 2013

You know what really Grinds my Gears? by Jeffrey J. Thivierge

You know what really grinds my gears….?

The self-checkout lanes that they have so conveniently set up for us at the grocery store.

For years, grocery stores were staffed with helpful clerks that would gleefully walk up and down the aisles, straightening products, always making sure things were dress-right-dress so the manager and/or owner would be pleased if they walked by.  If a customer had a question, they were more than happy to get you an answer. 

And don’t get me started on the prices….

Every item had a price tag.  It was actually required of the stock-boy to ensure that every item had the correct price tag displayed on either the front or top of the item.  On some occasions, if the item happened to be on sale, they would even place a “SPECIAL” sticker on it to show that it was on sale.

If you went to the meat counter, you could either pick your cut of meat or have a special cut for a little extra cost.  In some towns or stores, the butcher might even know your name and your favorite cuts of meat.

At the end of your shopping experience, you’d reach the check-out counter, where you would no doubt be greeted by the smiling face of a check-out woman that would gladly either enter in the prices or scan (I’m not that old) all of your items and give you your final total.  All the while, the cashier would be supervising the helpful bagger who would be gingerly placing all of your goods into bags, ensuring that your eggs and bread were treated with the type of kindness you would treat a newborn kitten.

The other day, I went to (insert large grocery store here) and found myself searching for eight minutes before I could find a specific type of powdered drink mix.  From there, I went over to the meat section, where I would’ve liked to get a rib-eye steak, but there weren’t any visible.  I looked for the button to push to get a person to come out, but couldn’t even find the button.

By the time my shopping was done, I had successfully navigated this massive grocery store without having encountered a single employee to answer my question regarding my powdered drink beverage.  (It contains aspartame, so I probably shouldn’t have it anyway.)  I ended up at the self-checkout, scanning my four items.  In high school, I actually worked at a small grocery store, so I consider myself pretty good at scanning things.  (Sarcasm).  Item #3, however, wouldn’t scan properly, and in my frustration trying to scan it, I eventually scanned it twice.  Now I had to call an employee over for assistance.  I looked over to the other three self-checkouts, only to see that all three were manned by citizens such as myself that were having nearly identical problems.  Either their grapes were ringing up improperly or their Flintstone’s Vitamins coupon wasn’t accepted by the system.  All problems requiring the swipe of an employee badge and some fancy keystrokes to make everything better.

When all was said and done, is this really saving us any time and money?  Are these really a convenience?   I’ve seen more than one grocery store that actually removed them.

For once, I will have to admit, yes, honey, you’re right.  I’ll just go to the register with a cashier.  It will be faster.

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