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Reflections: The Self-Checkout Line

Enjoy our “Reflections” post — one of many vignettes and stories featuring memories of days gone by. This installment is from David H. McBride. 
If you would like to contribute your own Reflections story, send it, along with photos, to hottytoddynews@gmail.com.

I have always thought of myself as a modern, up-to-date person, computer literate, cell phone using, high-tech-loving senior citizen.  I have all the electronic stuff we 21st-century folks have to have to operate in today’s world.  I embraced the computer world early on; GPS, VCR, etc., all just fell into place.
I had no problem adapting to this type of lifestyle.  In fact, I reveled in the freedom it gave me.  When I took up writing about 20 years ago, the word processor gave me the boost I needed to start writing for publication instead of just for my own pleasure.  But there is one thing modern science has beaten my poor old head bloody with.  I just cannot master “The Self Checkout Line.”
When I first saw a “Self Checkout Line” I was delighted.  Just think: a quick self-check and be gone, not having to be stuck behind 5 or 8 people, some with crying children. No more people who cannot find their checkbook. No more people with a hand full of coupons, some cut from newspapers, magazines, etc, and some printed off of a computer printer. The checkout person has to check the date and verify each and every one of the coupons before ringing it up, or worst of all, just before you get to the checkout person, the shift changes and your person has to yield to a new checker, who has to ring out the old one and get her or his stuff the way she or he wants it, so when I saw my first “Self Checkout Line” I was ever so pleased.
On my first foray into the world of “Self Checkout Lines” I was as cheerful and happy as a person could be.  My list was short that day, so I deemed it the perfect day for the “Self Check Line.” On my way through the produce department, getting a small sack of potatoes, small sack of onions, head of Iceberg lettuce, and one of Romaine lettuce, I saw a sign “mangos – 78 cents each”.  Loving mangos as I do, and they usually costing about a $1.45 each, I grabbed four big fine looking mangos, a loaf of French bread, some frozen biscuits, and headed for the checkout line.  Getting to the line in lonely splendor, I read the instructions and began taking my purchases out of the cart.
First I placed my mangos on the scanner and looked at the screen; it said mangos 4 @ $1.49 each= $5.96 total. WHOA, WHOA, not right!  Four times 78 cents should be $3.12.  I took the mangos off, zeroed out, and started over.  Same result.  3rd attempt, same thing.  I took the mangos off and tried with the lettuce.  The screen said, “Put produce on scale.” Lettuce is not sold by the pound!  I tried with the onions, big confusion as to what kind of onions, much later after trying everything I knew and being unable to summon an employee, I just left everything as is where is and walked out in utter defeat, head hung down, weary in mind and body, defeated by a machine I had watched other people use with no problem. I told my wife my sad story, and she offered no condolences, just said, “You should have read the instructions carefully.”   
I vowed to try again somewhere else. I have tried at Lowes, Home Depot, Walmart, and several other places and have never gotten through the complete list of things to check out.  I have begged for help, pushed the help needed button, and watched some person sail on through without a hitch, yet I cannot seem to do it by myself.
I am resigned to my fate of having to stand in line behind all those aforementioned folks and grit my teeth at my being too stupid to do what any person should be able to do.  I watch the “Self Checkout Line” with envy as people just walk up and “Check Out” and be gone while I am still standing behind the lady fumbling in her purse for her checkbook, and sending Junior back with a box of cookies he picked up without her knowledge. I just shift from one foot to the other, and pray for patience, and wonder why I cannot master the “Self Checkout Line.”

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