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The Curse of Self Check Out

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Last week the Mrs. and I visited Giant, our local super market. Throughout this great country of ours we have these stores everywhere with different names. Living here on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Salisbury in particular, we only have two choices, Giant or Food Lion. Food Lion was recently purchased by Giant for those who do not know. Giant by the way is owned by Royal Ahold, a Dutch company. They also own Stop and Shop, although they are not in our neck of the woods.

No Whole Foods, Publix, Albertsons, or Trader Joe’s in our neck of the woods. We were once told in an article in our local paper that a Harris Teeter would not be opening here as we were not sophisticated enough to warrant them coming here.  Come to think of it, I never even saw an Editorial in the paper about that.

Royal Ahold, the designation “Royal” from Dutch Queen Beatrix in 1987, awarded to companies that have operated honorably for one hundred years. Well, I contend that they do not operate honorably and you only have but to go through the Self Check-out to prove this.

We went to the store to pick up a few items, not a lot mind you.The store was quite crowded, perhaps a snow storm pending? Every register had a line and there was even a line of several people waiting on Self Check Out. What the hell we thought, three people waiting, eight machines, be done in a flash, right? Wrong!


Step one, declare nationality. Think about it people, how often are we told, we are all one? At least Bernie Sanders’ says something like that.  Not in a grocery store Mr or Ms politician. They also want to know if you brought your own bags, which we do. The provided plastic bags rip and of course environmentally, are a disaster. After telling the machine we have our own bags, it tells us to place bag on the proper space for bagging. Instantly we hear, “Remove item from bag and please scan.” Now we’ve put nothing in yet understand. I repeat the process, not once, but two or three times at least.

Lights, sirens, customer needs assistance, “Bad Boys, Bad Boys, What you gonna do when they come for you?”

Up walks a 18 or 19 something polite young man, most likely a Salisbury University student to provide assistance. S U is our local University by the way. “What seems to be the problem Sir,” he asks politely. I explain about the bag and scan question the robot uttered and he just smiled. He scanned his do all,  I’m in charge here card and started my process all over again. “ Just start from the beginning sir, you’ll be good now.”

Our helper leaves and goes off to another flashing light. We remove the bag, place the bag back on the stand and hear “Remove item from bag and please scan.” My wife looks at me, rolls her eyes, much as she does when I have erred in one way or another. I clear my throat, as I’m told by my wife and children is something that I do when consternation is present.

I beat our helper to the problem, remove the bag and attempt to rectify the issue myself, wrong. There is now a prompt on my screen, “Please wait for assistance.” Yes, the light is flashing, and there’s that Bad Boys music in my head again. I glance around and see that I’m getting that, “ you stupid @#” after a brief wait. It appears there are several other morons getting assistance also.You dummy, visualizes from several folks in the wait line. I am now with furrowed brow. Back comes my helper.

On this occasion our aide stays with us, starts the process again for us, hits a button or two, places the bag in the holder, squaring it up all pretty like and begins.  He in turn gets the same prompt several times. I’m starting to feel a bit better of myself. Finally he is able to scan an item and places it in the bag. “Your all set now sir,”  he says. “Oops” I say. “Gotta put my reward # in.” Start over Rooster. Ok, everything is in properly, once again he double checks the bag. He neatly places the bag on it’s designated spot. “Ah Ha,” “Please remove item from bag and scan.” He’s a moron also people.

The young lad then proceeds to go into a Doctoral Dissertation about the lack of the machine being able to recognize bags other than what is plastic and hanging on the racks. Mind you now, my bag is a “Giant” bag, bought at this store. We begin once more. Bingo, after several more tries it works, finally we’re off and scanning.

I take a glance at the line, the lady in front has this look on her face that could commit murder. Steam is being emitted from her nostrils, her leg is driving her foot into the tiles, much like a bull about to charge the Matador.


I am truly in fear for my life. I look at her, point to myself, shake my head “Not me,” point back to the Robot and plead “it’s this thing.” She is not amused, I am in the spot light,“Bad Boys” chimes in my head.

I scan a few items and am now on a roll. Then the unthinkable happens, I now have to scan two bottles of wine. “Please wait for assistance.” Blue light special tuns on, I start to tremble and glance towards the raging bull standing in line. She looks at me in disgust, daggers are piercing me, thrust from her eyes. Over once again over comes this lad to verify this 72 year old, soon to meet his demise at the hands of this vile woman in line, is in fact over 21 and legally able to purchase the wine. We have a bottle of KJ Chardonnay and Raging Bull (HOW APPROPRIATE) Cabernet.

BrowserPreview_tmp31I’m finished, just have to get through scanning my card. I fumble for my wallet, pull out the card, push the necessary Credit buttons. God forbid I should push the Debit button, the Bank will charge me 2% to do that. Plus, I’ll most likely enter the wrong Pin on this fateful day.  “REJECT,” Crap, I used my Sam’s club card. I glance around, feeling guilt like never before, I reach for my wallet again, knowing everyone is looking at me now and start over. I replace Sam’s card and pull my Rapid Rewards. Gotta get those points you know.

Finally it tallies, issues me my receipt, and I grab my one bag. It’s taken me longer this trip than purchasing a pre Thanksgiving meal for 25. One Bag, 7 items, two bottles of wine. As I turn to leave I’m face to face with “HER.” I smile and say, “I hope your experience with this machine is more pleasant than mine. Have a great Day.”  She glares!

Raging woman

Please, make her experience be everything that mine was, payback you know.

“Royal Ahold,” yep, )(  an appropriate name.

For some more on why Self Check-Outs don’t work:

Rooster Logo    Semper-fidelis

1 Comment

  1. James Dick says:

    Great story, Lee!!!! 🙂

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