Rant: Self-Checkout Machines and Why I Hate Them

When self-checkout registers first showed up, I thought “This is amazing; I can check out without annoying small talk about random crap in my basket!” I happily got in line.

Now? Now I hate the things.

I want to like them. I want to use them. But the bloody things were programmed by enemies of all humankind, after centuries of research into how to piss off normal, otherwise-intelligent human beings and make them feel like complete idiots.

The anti-theft scales are so sensitive they know if you place a paper bag on them. You can tell it you’re using your own bag, but there is no way to tell it the bag is theirs, so you’re supposed to scan all your crap and pile it up on the not-very-big scale, and then bag your stuff. I keep trying to tell it to ignore the bag, but it won’t.

Half the time I try to use the bloody things, the machine makes up phantom items on the scale and tells me to remove the “unknown item.” But there’s nothing there it hasn’t already scanned, and if I try to remove something that should be there, then it’s suddenly telling me to remove that. You can’t win.

When I go to weigh produce, about half of the time, it accepts the weight even before I’ve finished putting the veggies on the scale. There’s a button there for me to accept the weight, but the stupid machine at my store does it automatically, and then I’m left with half the produce still not on the scale, even if I’m using a bag.

So now I only use them if I have only a few very small, very packaged items. And they still drive me insane with their chattery instructions that nobody actually needs to hear. “Please complete sale using the keypad!” I’m already halfway through that process, you idiot machine. Maybe don’t tell me to do the thing I’m already doing?!

Published by Michael R. Johnston

Father of an eighth grader, high school English teacher, writer. Fifty years old and feeling almost every bit of it on some days, and not a bit of it on others. Based in Sacramento, California, USA

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