Why I love self check-outs

2 Feb

When self checkouts first made an appearance, I remember thinking to myself, “Why would I do the job for free when an employee is getting paid to do it?”

Well, I’ll tell you why! It turns out I do a much better job of bagging the groceries myself. And as the old saying goes, if you want a job done right, do it yourself!

That grocery store employee doesn’t care about your groceries making it home in one piece. It doesn’t matter that they are paid to care. They’re not paid enough to care and so they don’t.

There is a certain universally accepted correct way to bag groceries. For example, you put cold stuff together so that it stays cold on the drive home. You never put the ice cream in with a cereal box on a warm day unless you want the cardboard of that cereal box to turn to mush by the time you get home. You don’t put a 2kg bag of sugar on top of the bread. You don’t put household cleaning products or raw meat in the same bag as the produce. You don’t try to cram fifty cans or jars into a single plastic bag and expect it not to break and make a huge mess in the parking lot.

If anybody should know this, it should be a grocery store employee, right? Right??? Ha… yeah, right.

If I absolutely must go through a cashier’s line and not the self checkout line, I do my very best to idiot-proof the conveyer belt and I group things together in the order in which they should be bagged. So I put all the produce together, for example, but also in order so that the first thing that should be scanned and dropped in the bag is the lettuce and apples, the second thing the bananas, and the last thing, the grapes. Somehow, this still does not prevent the grapes from being squashed into grape juice under the weight of the apples and lettuce. I don’t know why the cashier reached around the lettuce to snatch the grapes first. It doesn’t make any sense.

But it gets worse. I actually consider it a job well done (in relative terms) if all the produce ends up in the same bag, regardless of whether or not half of it is damaged in the process. Usually, the cashier reaches all over the conveyer belt grabbing products from various groupings in an attempt to fit the most stuff possible into a single bag as if there was some sort of worldwide shortage on grocery bags.

When that happens, I go into passive-aggressive mode and do a very conspicuous repacking of the grocery bag where I dump everything out and reorganise it the way I want it. If I have to, I’ll even reach over the counter and steal another bag just to make the point that they really should have used two bags instead of one for all that stuff.

Is this immature of me? Should I just politely ask them to pack it in a certain way or hand me a second bag? Yes, I probably am immature and yes, I probably should just ask politely. But I’m a Minnesotan and I abide by Minnesota Nice, which means being non-confrontational, which means being passive-aggressive instead of just being assertive. I can’t help it. It’s my way. Usually, my non-confrontational approach is just to use the self checkout, of course.

I recommend this extremely simple how-to guide on bagging groceries for all the idiot grocery store employees out there, especially ones that work at Walmart: How To Bag Groceries

As a related aside, my favourite grocery store chain has always been Hy-Vee which has no self checkouts, but where each line has a bagger (not just a cashier throwing stuff in a bag without looking) who has been properly trained in the correct way to bag groceries. And they’ll even bring it out to your car and help you load it up, too. Hy-Vee is probably the only store where grocery shopping doesn’t turn into a stressful experience. I love Hy-Vee. I really do.

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