How I loathe thee, self-checkout. #lupus

I don’t know if this is a growing trend everywhere, or just in California, but there are more and more self-checkout registers at grocery stores every year.

This is a lose-lose situation. I don’t see how the self-checkout could be a win for anyone, except for maybe the store since they don’t have to pay a cashier or a bagger. The damn things never work the way they are supposed to. I can’t ever remember a time where I didn’t need to track down a missing employee to come over and unfuck my register.

My first problem with this invention is that they are taking away the jobs of the cashier and the bagger, and replacing them with one overseer that can never be found when you need assistance.

Then we hear more GET A JOB, LAZY LIBERALS.

My second problem is that I am a disabled person, and I’m mostly disabled by pain. There are people who are a lot more disabled than I am trying to do their shopping, sometimes by themselves. There are also elderly people still trying to remain as independent as possible. As if shopping in itself wasn’t enough of a burden, now you have to ring up and bag everything, too. And you have to do it just so, or else the computer will bingbong like a nuclear reactor.

Self-checkout easily takes twice as long as cashier-aided checkout. First, you have to ‘sign in’ on the register with your super-awesome-best-friends-save-money-but-not-really club card. Then, you have to ring up and bag everything one at a time, because it weighs your groceries to make sure you’re not doing an item switcheroo to get Fillet Mignon for 99 cents. A lot of the time, it doesn’t detect the item in the bag, and the computer has a fit. Every item has a bar code in a secret place, so each item becomes a game of “Where’s Waldo, the black-and-white-stripe edition” unto itself. When you do find the bar code, hopefully you can mathematically predict the angle to which you must hold the bar code up to the scanner for it to scan successfully. Once the register *boops*, you celebrate a little on the inside, although you are not a winner quite yet. The item must either go directly into a bag and have the weight detected by the bag-weigher-thing, or down the conveyor belt, which also incorrectly weighs things, and also becomes clogged with items because you do not have another set of arms for removing and bagging. When you stop ringing up to unclog the conveyor belt, the computer repeatedly asks if you “wish to continue with your purchase”.  Dog forbid you purchase a much-needed alcoholic beverage after being the register’s bitch for 20 minutes, because then you have to track down the overseer to look at your driver license. After they tell me how young I look (23), if you “have any coupons today” you have to pick the special coupon square on the screen, and maybe it will scan, maybe it won’t. Then you’ll just decide it’s not worth the 74 cents you’d be saving if only you’d properly aroused the register.

Shopping in itself takes a lot of my energy. Being on my feet for even 30 minutes causes the pain to start, and I’m usually in the store longer than that. I have to read labels of the things I buy to check for ingredients to which I have an allergy. The ingredients I’m sensitive to are in a lot of foods, and sometimes it takes a while to find things I can eat. I do get help shopping, but if I did not get help, and I had to lovingly stroke the self-checkout by myself, I don’t know how I would do it. Sometimes, by the end of a long shopping trip, I just can’t stand up anymore. I get hot, nauseated, tired, and the pain just gets unbearable. It makes me dizzy. Sometimes when I get an ‘attack’ like this, I can’t think straight. I start to forget why I went down an aisle, what I was looking for, or the name of something I’m looking for. I fumble with words and the clear thinking I walked in with is gone. Once I sit down, I start to feel a little better. The nausea and dizziness go away, but unfortunately the pain stays. I don’t know how I would ring up and bag my own groceries when I feel this way by the end of shopping.

Why don’t I use a scooter cart? Because if I stop depending on my muscles to hold me up all the time, they won’t be able to. I fight the fatigue and the pain to keep them working. If I don’t force myself to do certain activities, I will eventually lose the ability.

Another problem the self-checkout causes are the lengths of the lines at cashier-aided checkout. No one wants to use self-checkout because it’s such an imposition to the customer. So when I need the aide of a cashier I have to wait longer, thus causing more standing, and more pain.

There are a few stores here that solely utilize self-checkout, and I try to avoid them whenever possible.

Whether or not people realize it, cashiers and baggers have a really important job. They really help people like me.



  1. I especially love the swat team that appears when you accidentally put your wallet on the scanner to retrieve your coupon, penny saving card or cash….red alert red alert we are at defcon 4, item not recognized item not recognized…..followed of course by ” cleanup at register 6, cleanup at register 6″

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