Take last night for example. I received a phone call around seven last night. It was my supervisor telling me I had the night off.
Wonderful. I've just slept the whole day now I'm going to be awake all damn night with nothing to do. I could have done some laundry, but the Laundromat closes at nine, not long enough to do a few loads. I did the dishes, watched the local news, Jay Leno then Conan O'Brien. It was now two in the morning and I was wide awake. The house was clean, dishes done.
Nothing to do.
Oh, wait! I could use some groceries and the Kroger's in Princeton is open all night. So I get dressed, jump in my truck and head off down the road.
I'm on a mission.
I did neglect to tell you I really hadn't eaten anything since about eight o'clock when I had a few cups of coffee and a pop-tart. So here I was going to an all night grocery store at two in the morning, hungry. Not the brightest thing I've ever done.
So I get to the store, park and get my cart. First I have to negotiate a roadblock of shopping carts set up strategically in the front of the store set up no doubt using a plan by the Department of Homeland Security to deter Al Queida, Osama Bin Laden and the others from attacking the produce section as we all know that the Kroger's in Princeton, West Virginia is a prime target for those nefarious terrorists, right up there with nuclear powerplants. It took me ten minutes just to get through this roadblock, all with a passive store employee watching my every move, since we all know that white guys in there late thirties with military haircuts are the prime suspects in all Middle Eastern terrorist plots against the US.
I start off and now my stomach is really rumbling, which is a bad thing. I had only wanted to get a few things to hold me over until my next pay, but an hour later with my cart full of things I really don't need I decide I've had enough. Time to head out.
I steer my cart over to the checkout lanes. They're all closed. I look around and the same employee who was secretly comparing my face to those terrorists he had photos of, silently pointed to the far end, where the "Self Checkout" lane was...
Here we go. I've never used this before, so it was new to me. I tend to prefer a real person checking out my groceries. I can't argue over the cost of linguini with a computer.
I walk up to this contraption and the employee stands by to make sure I use the machine properly. I look at this thing for a minute to figure it out. There it is. The big green button that says "Press to Start". It only took me five minutes to find it since it was right in front of my face. I hit the button and the thing starts to talk to me in a slightly metallic woman's voice. It should have been the voice of some teenager chewing gum with a practiced indifference in her voice.
"please scan item!" it asked me pleasantly. I did and it then said "please place scanned item in a bag to your right." I did and it asked me to scan another item. These instructions went on with every thing I had in my cart. I couldn't scan a new item until I placed the last thing I had scanned into a bag to my right. Apparently it knows when I do this.
I felt like a complete imbecile.
This was taking for ever. After about ten minutes of this, I was ready to pay. It then instructed to use my debit card for payment. I looked over to the bored employee who was still watching me, no doubt at this time making sure I didn't try to steal the frozen corndogs. I looked over to him and said "You know, this would have been a lot faster if a checkout person did this in a regular lane." He then grinned slowly and said "Yep, it sure would. Next thing you know they'll have a machine to stock the shelves."
Really? If they did that, I bet he'd actually have to go out and find a real job.
I swear I heard the theme music from the "Outer Limits" as I pushed my cart out of the store.
That's probably the last time I do my grocery shopping at two AM...
Copyright 2005 Thomas J Wolfenden