Saturday, June 14, 2008

Old Twain versus Young Twain

I have to assume the bulk of my readers are familiar with the expression , "East is East, and West is West and Twain's never meet?", well sometimes they come close, and it makes for an interesting moment.---take today for example---"Old dude ", (that's me), goes shopping at his local supermarket. I KNOW the market is in the midst of recreating itself and as the days go by with each subsequent visit I see the new store emerging from the chaos. Today's list of vittles was not overwhelming, six pack of beer, a four pack of Charmin's, a dozen eggs, (brown, free range), a bag of frozen beef ravioli, a pound of hamburger (less than 10% fat), butter (original "I can't believe its not butter" brand), a container of shower soap, (Irish Spring liquid gel), some paper towels, chicken breast fillets,---anyway, I get want I went for, and push my cart to the new checkout stands---and voila, find that my supermarket now offers self checkout---OKAY!! (one of my major gripes has been having to stand in line waiting for somebody to take my money)---so naturally I had to give it a shot. like hello, been familiar with Bar coding for what maybe 25-30 years, watch it go from a military thing to a commercial technology---should be no problem.

With great confidence I give the attendant hovering around to answer questions to newbies with the system, a confident smile and wheel up to the check out station and boldly and confidently swipe my Ralph's card and get acknowledged by the machine. which then proceeds to announce verbally, so anyone within 20 feet can hear, "scan first item and put it into the bag". Not quite ready for that, but I grab an item from my cart, fumble around with it to find the required bar code needing to be scanned. I wasn't fast enough and the machine embarrassingly loud announces again , "SCAN ITEM AND PUT IT IN THE BAG" (I am sure at this point others in the store are now turning to look and see what is causing a problem, most definitely the young attendant, that gives me the look young kids give old people, when dealing with old people who just don't know diddly, or that's how THEY see it)

Basically I am a nice guy, easy going, laid back---but damn I get attitude, especially from kids barely outta the acne stage, and hello---the attendant gives ME that look----I have to decide if I am just going to be cranky, or take it all the way to Nuclear---in any any case, there is no way I am gonna let this cherub win the day, and from MY point of view HE started it with giving me that look----(hey just defending myself officer)

Clerk, that smirk if not on his face still reflected in his eyes and body language, clicks his master control and in a sneer tells me to proceed, I scan a couple more items, being bulky they fill the bag, but before I can open another bag, the machine loudly screams for "Attendant required, , Attendant Required"---and of course I get the same punk attendant. Not about to give him any satisfaction before he can speak, "Your machine here doesn't allow sufficient time for a shopper to open a new back to put their purchases in it seems?" The Kid, somewhat confused now, not use to an OLD Dude" questioning HIM about new digital stuff, scowls mumbles something about the machine not suppose to do that---he again clears the machine of its hangup, and I proceed to scan another item and even before I can put it in the bag does it screaming thing, calling for an attendant, I now give the kid the classic "Jack Benny, Well??" look---you know the one, (the one that pretty much tells the kid his machine and system is not infallible look, which he of course is totally unable to excuse or explain) I am cool, I don't raise my fists to the sky, and do that little victory dance one does when life is good)

I finish scanning, pay the bill, and unable to stop myself had to go for the final kill--. I give him a nice little smile and comment, " This could well work if the system incorporates the new paperless coupon system that Ralphes has, ---won't need attendants here at all", I exit the store a half grin on my face---score "old dude" 1---young kid 0---turns out the experience wasn't all that bad after all


  1. Hey old dude, I just remembered something: You mentioned that you stopped smoking Jan 1.........Well, I stopped smoking for fifteen years. FIFTEEN YEARS and started back again.........Sooo I stopped Feb 1 of this year. And, here's the problem.....I KNOW that I will start again. I KNOW I I thought I'd just circumnavigate the problem and CHOOSE to start again..........SO..........I started again.......*cough*


  3. Those self check outs are not easy. They need the attendant more than not.

  4. Feel smug in knowing that shortly RFID technology will soon be replacing these acne faced know it alls.

  5. Loved the final comment that you left with the dude still standing there.

    I get very aggrivated at those self check outs. I scan the item, put it in the bag and the dang thing keeps telling me that I didn't bag the item. It's so A-G-G-R-I-V-A-T-I-N-G!!!! We only use those when Mike is with us. I would rather way in a line out the door for someone else to check me out.

  6. I hate self check outs. I will only use them if someone in the store has my head in a vice. If they are going to charge what they charge for whatever it is I am being charged for, I want a human to deal with the exchange.

    Your story reminds me of that charge card commercial where Life in the store is beautiful and smooth as long as everyone is using a credit card, but grinds to a halt when someone wants to pay with, gasp, cash.

    There are aspects of this new world I will do my best to undermine. This bullshit is on my target list.

    Good post.

  7. I can't speak for all of the Ralph's stores or the Kroger chain back east---but at my local Ralphs, with its 12 (count em checkout stands), never are there more than 4 in operation, and one of those is strictly for 10 items or less---so part of the shopping experience at my local ralphs has traditionally been the 15-20 minutes standing in line waiting to be scanned out. Watching ones frozen foods thaw, the guilt building over the chocolate eclairs one had impulsively put in the cart, but not you can't take it back or you lose your place in line-----. No, them self checkout stands aint gonna ever be popular

  8. But Gary you should just do what at least one person does to me on a regular basis. She remembers that she forgot the butter or whatever which of course is at the very back of the store. She leaves her cart in line and strolls to the back of the store. This happens after she has unloaded half her cart. Don't you wish there's special supermarket hell for these people?
    And I like mrmacrum never use a credit card at the market for the same reason.


Speak up, don't be a nebish---your opinions do count.