DECEMBER 10, 2008

Keep baggin' it
       Grocery store clerks: thank you! I appreciate what you do for me and now I have a whole new respect for your job.
       In a world where technology is doing most of the work for us – and I think this goes back to the introduction of the calculator – we’ve either wanted something done easier or faster. Because of this, people lose jobs because machinery is taking over.
       Now, with self-serve checkouts in the grocery store, we not only bag our own stuff, we also now ring it through the computer. And perhaps this will get easier as technology improves, but for now, it’s a lot less convenient than having someone do it for us. That’s right, a someone, not a something.
       Case in point: four self-serve checkouts are operational and one “attendant” is manning all of the stations from a separate workstation. In a transaction that has a customer purchasing a couple dozen items, it could mean several “Please wait for an attendant” messages and about 10 minutes to complete the purchase.
       By the time the attendant comes to see what’s wrong, fix the problem, and reset the terminal, most experienced grocery employees could have handled a few customers by that point.
       In fact, it was so frustrating having constant error messages that I finally gave up and asked the employee to do it for me. Rather than getting frustrated… OK, rather than get REALLY frustrated, I turned it into something funny. I sarcastically informed newcomers of the ease and speed of the machines and offered to give them a demonstration.
       Trust me, I wasn’t holding up the lines – the computers were!
       So, grocery store cashiers of the world, I salute you and the fine scanning and bagging that you do for me.
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