Living Retired — ‘Please Wait For Attendant’
Living Retired — ‘Please Wait for Attendant’
By Gary Chalk.
I enjoy grocery shopping. What I do not enjoy is checking out.
There are two choices. I can push my cart to a cashier and have my fresh tomatoes rolled down the conveyer belt like 5-pin bowling balls. STRIKE! And have the cashier shot-put the prime roast into the bag and hit the sour cream — SPLAT! Or I can go to the self-checkout. What could possibly go wrong?
I steered my cart to the self-checkout and pressed ‘START’ on the screen. Easy peezy, right? Not so fast Mr. Piggly Wiggly!
A message appeared on the screen: ‘Place Empty Bags In The Bagging Area and Press Done When Finished.’ With the bags in the bagging area, I pressed ‘Done.’ That is when another message popped up: ‘Are You A Club Member?’ I pressed ‘NO.’ Just like that, the message changed to ‘Would You Like To Become A Club Member?’ Grrr, I pressed ‘NO.’ (Okay maybe I was a little forceful with my finger.)
With the basics out of the way I was good to go. I placed my carrots on the weighing device. The screen responded with: ‘Please Wait For Attendant.’ I looked around. There are eight self-checkouts and one attendant. She is helping a woman who has become so friggin’ upset with her self-checkout experience that she is threatening to toss her box of Caesar salad croutons — in her exact words — “Where the sun don’t shine!” I wait. Zzz.
Finally, the attendant is done helping Caesar Salad Crouton Lady. She has to choose between me with my dripping frozen ice cream, and the person beside me who has been waiting so long for the attendant that little gnats are swarming overtop her fresh peaches. Gnats took priority over a pint of dripping Oreo Cookie ice cream.
More time passes before the attendant arrives. She waves her ID card at the screen and presses a button. (I am sure she secretly pressed the ‘Idiot Customer’ button.) At last, I am good to go…
Have you ever tried to scan the bar code on a 24-bottle case of water? I hoisted the case up and began contorting my body every which way. It is like playing Twister. Finally, I plopped the case of water in the bagging area. That is when a message said ‘Unexpected Item in The Bagging Area. Please Wait For Attendant.’
The attendant is helping — you guessed it — Caesar Salad Crouton Lady who is now trying to get the machine to accept the 30% discount on her bananas.
There are so many customers standing waiting, that the attendant floats through waving her store ID card at all the machines. My mission is to get out of the store before my bag of baby spinach goes through puberty and is full grown.
The screen prompts me to type in my next item. I stare at the rutabagas in my hand and realize I don’t have a clue how to spell rutabagas! And the machine does not spellcheck. A woman waiting yelled “Buy a vowel!” I have no choice. I press ‘Call Attendant.’ She is helping other customers in various states of self-checkout rage.
When the attendant arrived, I joked “Imagine if I had to spell Eucalyptus.” Without cracking a smile she said, “Eucalyptus is a ‘Fruit, you’re in ‘Vegetables.’”
Barcode battle continued. The machine wouldn’t accept my paper towels, frozen fruit, aluminum foil, laundry detergent, and bulk sesame seeds without ‘Wait For Attendant’ — so I made an executive decision: we don’t need them!
Now, at last, I am on the home stretch. I press ‘Pay Now.’ The message on the screen asks, ‘How Many Bags Would You Like To Buy?’ I pressed ‘Zero’ then ‘Done.’ The message now says, ‘How Would You Like To Pay? Cash? Credit Card. Debit Card?’ I pressed ‘Credit Card.’ ‘Are You A Club Member?’ ‘NO.’ ‘Would You Like To Become One?’ I pressed the screen so damn hard I left a permanent imprint of my fingerprint on the screen!
I slid my credit card into the machine. It rolled right back out. I pushed it back in. It rolled right back out! I have a choice: I can ‘Call For Attendant’ or make a dash to the car!’ Thankfully, the attendant is done with Caesar Salad Crouton Lady — in more ways than one! — and comes to my help. She presses ‘Resume.’
Three days later…
I am enrolled in self-checkout group therapy sessions at a crowded seniors centre. I am down on a mat on the floor doing calming exercises. Beside me on the mat is Caesar Salad Crouton Lady.