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A new/old slant on your favorite weekly adventure -

Checking out

     You never know which way your four-wheeler is going to turn even though you have a tenacious grip on the handlebar. Rounding the corners is especially dicey—you never know who you might run into. Anyway, it all adds to your weekly adventure of. . . You guessed it! Grocery shopping!

     Okay. I get it. You're not all that much into grocery shopping. Me neither. But I got excited a month ago when I discovered an easier way to get out of there. For years I've been taking advantage of the self-checkout service. I love to do it "my way"—put the stuff in the bags I so carefully brought from home and forgot to bring into the store until I finished shopping and then I had to run out to the car to get them and I lost my place in line but that was okay because the self-service checkout line was never long—until last year when everyone and their neighbor discovered it.

     Early on my friends tried to give me a guilt trip. Said I was taking away jobs from the checkers. I ignored them and kept checking out my own groceries and I was getting quite adept at it—all the frozen stuff in one bag except the ice cream that didn't quite fit so I had to put it in with the dishwasher soap—the canned goods at the bottom of the bag, the bread on top of everything else and well, you get the idea. I was doing it "my way."

     Lately the self-service machine has gotten loud and bossy. Every time I swipe something its mechanical voice tells me to "Place your item in the bag. Scan your next item." I am! I am! I am! I want to holler back but I don't. Sometimes I mutter, "I did." Nobody hears me because they're getting the same treatment at their station. After the last item is scanned the machine asks how many bags I want. I press "No bags" and the machine stops cold. "Help is on the way," it says. I don't need help. I just need to finish checking out.

     Confession: I'm so brainwashed by that machine that at home when Paul calls that he needs help with something, I holler out to him, "Help is on the way," at which point I try to stifle myself but it's too late. Now I sound like a machine. Not my life's goal.

     Besides, back at the grocery store, help is usually NOT on the way. Help is standing over by the customer service station yakking with the customer service manager, totally unaware of the now cheerful machine calling out, "Help is on the way. Help is on the way." Eventually help comes and punches a few keys on the machine and I pay for my groceries and leave.

     All those people who tried to guilt-trip me should have told me their way is a whole lot easier. Let the checker do the checking. Maybe they did. . . Probably they did.

     Last time I grocery shopped, the self-service line was long and my four-wheeler was chockful and there were no lines at the checkstands so I wheeled over to the closest one and started unloading my Kleenex and frozen pizza and cucumbers and such. The checker whipped them across her scanner and the bag person loaded them into my bags and I was out of there in no time!

     Turns out the most efficient machine is the human one. Plus the human checkers are a lot more friendly than those bossy machines, making your weekly four-wheeling adventure a lot more fun. 

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