Does your grocery store have those self-checkout thingies?

Ours does, and for the longest time I didn’t use them because I didn’t have a grocery store “preferred card.”  Without a preferred card, I had to be checked through by an actual person in order for me to get any sale prices on my groceries.

For years, I have said to myself “self, you should get a preferred card.”  Trouble was, I usually said this after I was finished shopping, when I rolled my burgeoning cart over to the checkout and discovered a huge line at all the manned lanes, while the self-checkout lanes went largely unused.

At that point in a grocery trip, it is hugely impractical to abandon a full cart of groceries to go to the customer service counter to get a card so that I could use the self checkout and still get the discounts.  So I never did.  And then, after I was done waiting in the long line and all checked out I’d invariably tell myself that it was too much of a hassle to bother getting a card this time, my ice cream was melting, I was tired of the grocery store, etc etc, and next time (next time!) I’d remember to get one BEFORE I started shopping.

Do you know how long I have been shopping at this particular grocery store?  Five years.  Do you know when I finally got a grocery preferred card?  Two weeks ago.  What can I say?  I’m lazy.  And also forgetful.

What finally changed?  Did I finally remember to get the card before I started my shopping?  Um, no.  What happened was, in a VERY RARE move, John went grocery shopping with me, so when we encountered the huge line, I made him wait while I went over to customer service and got a card.

Self-service line, here I come!

So over the weekend, I went to the grocery store, loaded up my cart, and proceeded confidently to the self checkout.  Today is the day I start saving time, suckers!

Except I, uh, kind of suck at produce weighing, as it turns out.  The machine kept rejecting my attempts to place the produce on the scale, requesting that I “reposition your item so it is centered on the scale.”   It was taking so long that I started to sweat from the stress. Actual Sweat.  Hello, I’m Pseudo, and the mere act of purchasing Triscuits and milk and bananas is enough to cause me to break out in an actual panicky sweat.

I had also, shortsightedly, decided to pick up a 6-pack of beer, which meant that the machine kept chirping at me “associate assistance required,” so that a store employee could check my id.

“Associate assistance required,” said the machine.
“Um, hello?  Anyone?  Help?” I said.
“Associate assistance required,” the machine said again.
“Can anyone come check my i.d.?” I said, louder.
“Associate assistance required,” the machine insisted.

I looked around.  No store employees to be seen.

“Hey, look,” said the lady in line behind me, who was actually tapping her foot in exasperation at how long I was taking.  “It says you can go ahead now.”

And, sure enough, she was right.  Apparently, if you wait long enough and don’t make a run for it while the automated machine loudly bleats that you need to have your id checked, the machine eventually concludes that you are probably not a teenager trying to buy booze underage, and they just let you proceed.

College students: consider this your public service announcement for the day.