Leave Self-Check Out Lanes to the Expert Shoppers

By: Bruce Layman
By: Bruce Layman

Why do "self-checkout lanes" contain so many slow people?

We all have to make quick stops at the grocery store to buy a few items. Usually, we know exactly which aisles to grab the items because they're usually items we buy all the time - we just forgot to get them when we go "full-fledge" shopping.

Which brings me to a phenomenon that never fails to irritate: Why do "self-checkout lanes" contain so many slow people?

Self-checkout lanes are nothing new.  They've been around for at least 15 years now. It's not new technology at all.  You swipe the food past a laser, you bag the food, you pay, you leave, "bada bing bada boom." So why are these self-checkout lanes perplexing to the point that stores have to post employees near them to constantly answer the same questions over and over about how to operate them?  Doesn't this defeat the cost-savings we all were to realize since stores would need fewer cashiers?

I always watch in amazement with my few items as people in front of me treat self-checkout lanes as a form of bizarre technology pulled from the wreckage at Roswell.  The majority of the shoppers who've made the conscious decision to anger their fellow shoppers fall into one of two categories:

The pair who opt to make a self-checkout lane a cheap form of bonding experience.  Each can of pork and beans is dragged slowly across the scanner by the man...who lovingly gazes into the eyes of the woman as she romantically gives him the next can of pork and beans, their bodies briefly touching as each food staple is transferred from one hand to another. 

- or -

The solo-shopper who comes in for a landing at a self-checkout scanner with a shopping buggy piled to the ceiling with groceries. This genre of shopper takes the better part of ten minutes to unload, scan, bag and load their rations. 

It appears that at least some grocery stores are picking up on this problem and are creating so-called "express" self-checkout lanes.  These lanes limit the number of items a slow self-checkout shopper can have. This is a great idea, even though it should be self-evident to begin with.

Maybe Nintendo should create a Wii software program that helps people practice scanning groceries in the privacy of their own living room before trying it in real life. Until that happens, though, be courteous to your fellow shoppers and leave self-checkout lanes to those of us who truly ARE in a hurry AND who understand the technology.


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