Self-Checkout Hits a Snag

By Larry Teren

News item: Chicago area supermarket chain eliminates self-checkout lanes at nine stores.

The 6pm Local News:

News Anchor: “Hi, I’m Diana Sewer and good evening. Tonight’s lead story is about a local supermarket chain removing the self-checkout lanes at several of their stores. Let’s go to Brad Chinstrap who is on the scene at Gem Foods on the far northwest side of the city. Brad?”
Brad: “Hello, Diana. I’m at the front entrance to the Gem Foods store here on Foster. There are than one group of people putting on a demonstration. Let’s talk to this one fellow.

Hello, sir. Can you tell us what you are doing here?”

Man #1: “Uh, yes. We represent the Progress for a Better Society- that’s PBS to you. We are demonstrating here at this store because they are taking away the self-checkout machines.”

Brad: “And why are you protesting?”

Man #1: “We feel that it is a detriment to progress. When Edison invented light, nobody wanted to go back to candles, right? When they invented the flushing toilet, no one wanted to go back to using outhouses, right? Exactly! So you see, taking away self-checkout machines is hindering progress. People wanna go into a store, get a few items and get the heck out of there as quickly as possible.”

Brad: “Thank you. Let’ go over to this other person who seems to be supporting the new policy. Sir, can I ask you who you are?”

Man #2: “You sure can.”

(five second pause)

Brad: “And you are?”

Man #2: “Oh, my name is John Pasquale and I’m the president of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters, Store Checkers and Stock Boys Local 12.”

Brad: “And why are you favoring the new store policy?”

Man #2: “Well, you see, it means more jobs for checkout girls again. More jobs for hard working union people means more money for the unions so that we can take care of our people. You know what I mean?”

Brad: “And will the lady who now works as an attendant who oversees the self-checkout machines get to be a regular lane checkout person?”

Man #2: “Nah, she can bag the groceries. She’ll be a bag lady. .Ha, ha- get it?”
Brad: “And what if the attendant who has to switch jobs is a man. Will he become a bag man?”

Man #2: “Hey, watch it- that’s not funny. “

Brad turns to the camera: “Well, thank you Mr. Pasquale and now over to Janet Blondwig.”

Janet: “Hi, Janet Blondwig here in Gem Foods Foster Avenue Store Manager’s office. We are here with Mr. Miles Offput. Mr. Offput, can you please tell us why your company is getting rid of the self-checkout lanes?”

Manager: “Sure. Some customers have been cheating the system and not paying for selected items. Some are purposely typing in the code for a cheaper item. The attendant can’t watch everybody.
Some customers tie up the line because they don’t know how to use the machines. Also, corporate feels that we are losing a lot of the impulse purchases you make when you stand in line at the real check out counters. We gotta sell those magazines, candies and bottles of pop.”

Janet: “What do you say to those people who are now going to be put off when they buy three or four items and want to get out of the store quickly instead of standing in the long regular checkout lines.”

Manager: “Well, we like to think people will accept a little inconvenience for the good of the whole. If not, they should go to the Six-Twelve Quick Mart. They’ll get in and out sooner but it’ll cost them more for the items.”

Janet: “Thank you, Mr. Offput. Back to you Diana.”

Anchor Lady Diana: Thank you, Janet. Walmart has recently added self-checkout machines and have been hearing favorable response from in-store customers. It will be interesting to see how this plays out further. In other news….”

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