Well, I had my first personal experience with the "self-checkout" yesterday. The "little kids" (who would be two 2-year olds and one 5 year old) and I went to catch up on the last minute shopping for a 5th birthday supper. Wal Mart was really busy, and of course had only two or three poor lonely checkers for the ten-cart lines that seemed to magically appear behind us just as I was paying my bill and realizing that I had forgotten to pick up AA batteries. Ordinarily batteries aren't a personal priority and certainly not a priority enough for me to go back into the store proper and stand in a ten-cart line with three young children. I wouldn't even do it by myself, actually, except that I needed the batteries to put in the birthday cake blow-up deocration I bought on sale for $7 down from $9. SO FUN! But needed batteries, so here I go turning the cart around despite protests of "NO MOOOOMMM, NO MORE STOOOOREEEE" and "but we hunry mommy!" and "no mama no mo toe!" from the peanut gallery. Battery display only a few feet from checkout and I was sure relieved until I turned around and saw the lines that I hadn't noticed behind us a few seconds before.
In desperation, I spot two completely empty "self-checkout" kiosks. Stands. Whatever you call them. I have always hesitated to try these because I feel like I'm missing part of the true shopping experience. I like to say hi to the checker, ask how they are, make them laugh about my children etc. I pride myself on leaving more than one grouchy-seeming cashier with a smile on his or her face as we pull away like some kind of grocery parade. So anyways I assure the children it will only take a minute because we're using the self-checkout.
I have to say it, in text message parlance: "O M G!"
Talk about the most annoying thing ever to repeat the phrase "please place item in the bagging area" you have ever seen in your whole life! Okay, fine, I press the "button" (all on the touch-screen) to begin checkout. It tells me to "please scan item" so I scan. Item beeps. No, wait, that was the lady across from me's item, okay that beep was my item. "Please place item in the bagging area." I've already got a cart full of bags and it's only a 4 pack of batteries, so I skip that step and toss the batteries into the bag with the balloons & streamers in it. Then I go to scan my Red Bull (because they put the damn energy drink display right before the self-checkout so of course I needed a Red Bull, and one for later, and a Monster Lo-Carb for my husband so I didn't look like a selfish ass only taking care of my own energy drink needs) and it says "you have reached non-bagging limit, please wait for assistance." What? Okay, the screen has a button that says "I don't want to bag this item" so I press that one. It says "please place item in bagging area." So I hold the can over the bagging area, fiddle with the bag like when you're trying to start the automatic faucets, ya know the hand wiggle...not good enough. Apparently you have to set the item down on the platform in the bagging area? I give up, scan two Red Bulls and a Monster in quick succession, glance at the total which looks about right, and press the "done" button, hoping if I just ignore the machine's pleas to bag my items it will eventually decide to shut up and take my money. Which will be a whole other show, because now I have to decide "card or cash." I'm eyeing the cash slot, thinking how hilarious it will be to see me fighting with the bills I want to put in, imagining the automatic voice repeating "please flatten out your old wrinkly money" and "please use bills without chocolate on them..." Swipe, sign on the line, thank goodness that's over with.
Never again! The "goodbye-er" (what we call the exit person, since he's not technically greeting us) just about high-fived me, I was waving my reciept so victoriously on my way out!