Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Day 2015 - The Supermarket

The human or the machine? 

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A few years back I confessed to stealing bacon via the Coles self-checkout. You can read about it here.

In that post I chatted about being a control freak and preferring the self-checkout machine to the human.  Well, mostly ... the stealing bacon episode kinda swung against the machine and in favour of the human. 

I know that using the self-checkout machine means that I might be putting someone out of a job, so I kind of have a rule where if it's a few items (like a basket load) I'll do the self-checkout and if it's a trolley load I'll head to the human.

Yesterday I had a trolley load.  Actually, let's call it half a trolley load.

I lined up and waited for the human.  I tossed it up though.  This really could be so much quicker if I did it myself.  I looked at the self-checkout queue.  I looked at the human queue.  I looked at the people in the self-checkout line and tried to judge their competencies.  I looked at the dude at the human checkout and had no trouble judging his.

He was slow and fiddle and fart-arsed around quite a bit.  He was chatty.  Did I want chatty? This guy was not a "quick game's a good game" kinda guy.  He was there to have a metaphorical cup of tea with the customers. I didn't have time for a cup of tea.

It was too late. I was embedded in the queue as people lined up behind me.  I watched the self check-out people whizzing through their line.

I huffed and puffed. I sighed.  I read emails on my phone.

I tuned into my self talk.  It wasn't pretty,  There were a lot of F words and huge sighs.  I was not being very complementary to the human. (I am sure he was a very nice human. I just didn't feel like hanging out with him.  Things to do, people to see and all that.)

Sidebar:  When I coach clients I get them to tap into their self talk and suggest that one of the best times to do that is in line at the checkout.  What's their tone? Are they patient? Is the self talk positive or negative?  That checkout line can say a lot about a person's current state of mind.  I thought about this as I continued swearing inside my head. My state of mind is clearly in need of a tropical island holiday. 

 I took some deep breaths and tried my best to revel in the chance to just stand and enter a world of peaceful nothingness.

The reality is that I don't go to the supermarket to stand and relax.  I don't go to have a chat and a "cup of tea" with the checkout dude.  I go there to complete a chore that allows my family to be fed and my house to be cleaned and my clothes to be washed.  It's not a place I want to hang out in.  It's definitely a "quick game's a good game" place for me to be.

I got through the human checkout and remained pleasant and patient and smiling (and even chatted a bit) while looking longingly at the self-checkout machines and the speed and efficiency in which some of the customers were finishing up their grocery shopping.  (I say "some" because there are always a few people who don't quite have the whole self-checkout thing mastered yet.)

I know I'm impatient and a control freak and there are times I'm not always that keen on human interaction. Machines work well for me.

What about you?

Do you prefer the human or the machine?  

What does your "standing at the checkout" self talk say about you?

Ever stolen bacon?


  1. I think human is faster than me at self-serve usually. I HATE shopping. I've had people treat me like a machine when I've been on the other side of the 'til so I always try to be engaging or at least nice. Sounds like you try too. But it is such a shitty task, grocery shopping. I have a friend who loves it and I can't get my head around it at all...

  2. Have to say I've never stolen bacon, but I do HATE the self-serve checkouts, because I can never find a space to put everything!
    Grocery shopping is one of those things that's not on my favourites list, so I try to speed through it too. And to achieve that, it's always quicker if the human is helping me :)

  3. Human is definitely faster when I've got the kids with me. They tend to become just another ÷$#ing unidentified item in the bagging area!!!!!

  4. I stole an avocado once, back when they were about $27 each. Not intentionally, it had just rolled into the back of the pram basket where I couldn't see it. I was mortified. My husband cheered me on, praised me for thumbing my nose at the 'man' for setting such an exorbitant price for avo's...

    I think the chatty check-out people do serve a purpose - they're an ear for the old guys and gals who need to have a chat, and they can really brighten up someone's day just by being friendly. But I'll stick with the machine thanks, and just be more wary of my accidental-sticky-fingers.

  5. I prefer the human checkout but I also prefer female humans as they are generally better at multitasking the whole thing super fast the way I like it!
    The machine is good for a few items.

  6. There's a human at our local who always looks disinterested and miserable. He is totally apathetic to customers. I actually said to him on day "This is not the job for you, is it?" and he met my eyes and went "Nup. Not even close." and resumed his daydreaming.

  7. When I'm in a rush I always pick the slowest and chattiest check out. If anything it teaches me patience. I use the machines when I have a basket full of groceries. It's quicker for sure so long as everything scans right and I place the item correctly in the bag area!

  8. I would prefer to not have to go grocery shopping at all. Our local Coles causes me so much grief both self service and checkout that I now drive out of my way to do our grocery shopping.

  9. Lol I wish when you entered a supermarket , your thoughts were no longer yours.. Everyone could hear as the screaming and nasty. language was be hilarious ...

  10. I hover between both. The weight scales shit me sometimes, and then waiting for the self-checkout monitor lady to override your error. I'm not really into chatting though either so it's a tough one!

  11. I have the same rule. But it does annoy me when the human is having a slow day. Yep, impatient here too.

  12. When I have kids and less than 12 I go machine because it means less chance of something going wrong. When I'm alone I go with person so I can spend more time ALONE! xx

  13. I am self service all the way cause I love to control what goes in each bag! Visiting from IBOT

  14. My local Coles seems to very rarely have more than 2 human checkouts open. It's frustrating. I employ a similar rule to you though and go the machine if I only have a couple of things and the human if I have a proper shop.

  15. Hmm. Mine says I'm in need of a tropical holiday too! I'm definitely a quick game's a good game type of person at the supermarket. I'm really not into making small talk with 20 somethings. That was a bit catty wasn't it?!

  16. I'm not sure if this is an urban myth but I have heard that the self-service checkouts were partly implemented to counter a forecasted shortfall in staff willing to work on checkouts. But, having written that...it does seem a little far-fetched! Probably just a money game!

    I also like to gauge the competencies of staff and customers alike to determine my best course of action. I'm not always right! :-)


I love hearing your thoughts! Keep them rolling in :)

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