• Jenjifer

    Sweet baby Jesus, you’ve got me in tears. I can so relate to the horror of those freakin’ machines.

    How I wish that after the horrid experience of checking out, you would have pulled out a jar of nickles to let Leta put into the machine. That would have been brilliant.

    Oh, and there are a bunch of folks there who are clearly new and don’t understand your sense of humor…Keep up, asshats.

  • kelly

    i think i love you for your hills references alone! (and the bbys too) i’m 31 and all over some lauren/heidi drama :/ i don’t know what that makes me.

  • Anonymous

    Next time Jon should outsource care and keep Leta at home while you shop. I hope you got a lot of good oral sex after that.

  • http://www.shananegins.com/blog Shannon

    I both love and hate the self-checkout… I had the exact same problem that you did Heather! When trying to use them, I tend to start yelling back at them as though they can hear me. I don’t know why, I just do! I am short, sometimes my purse hits the ledge that you scan things on. Then the robot yells! Sometimes my item doesn’t weigh what it thinks it should and then it really goes off thinking I am trying to steal! I just yell back and get all pissed. It’s even better when someone starts to self-scan AN ENTIRE CART OF GROCERIES! That one kills me! :)

  • http://www.through-glass.com Courtney

    Here Here!

    I think the self-checkout lanes, intended for no other purpose than saving the money of their corporate viscount, are designed just a little too much around an immunity to those who might pilfer and not enough around being user friendly. They are fine for picking up one or two items, but when a machine yells at me because I couldn’t fit all 20 of my items into one bag and have to move the bag from one side of the scale to the other… well that machine is utterly useless. If they can design an entire screaming machine… surely they can design a 10 second delay.

    And that’s just the beginning…

  • Jessica

    I don’t have anything particularly against the machines. Actually, since during at least one week a month I turn into a troll and try to avoid any human contact at all, they can be pretty darn useful! It’s the “Outsourced Caring” that I despise in general. A brilliant description! That person who called your daughter “kid” needed a good punch in the nose, I say. She’s lucky she only got the f-bomb. Ha! No, I don’t actually go around punching mouthy malcontents in the nose. But it makes me feel better to imagine it some days. *evil cackle*

  • http://myspace.com/razor1975 Jesse

    And to think I was pissed off when they started making me bag my own damned groceries. Forget about paying someone to carry them OUT for me!

  • Jessica

    I also think that webgrrlie’s husband should buy a package of condoms with the pickles next time. Maybe that would quiet down the nosey cashier! lol

  • http://kathy-p.blogspot.com/ Kathy

    Eek. I’m in the minority here. I actually like the self-checkouts as long as I only have a few items and none of them are produce. (Those machines are particularly bad with tomatoes.)

  • http://gracelily.blogspot.com/ Laurel

    Big fan, Heather. You make me laugh on days when I really need it.

    Anyway, it feels almost mean to tell this story after what you experienced, but I can’t help myself. I expected the worst when I realized I needed a few things for Thanksgiving about 4pm the day before. My two year old daughter/howler monkey in tow, I headed to New Seasons (is this a Portland thing?) whose tagline is “The friendliest store in town,” which isn’t always the case. I pulled into their tiny parking lot, where they had actual parking attendants directing the onslaught of cars, and was directed to a space in seconds. The store was a madhouse, but we blew through there in no time and then I steeled myself for the checkout lines, but… there weren’t any! Every lane was open and had a bagger. As I started to unload my cart, an employee came up to me and asked if I’d like to sample a beaujolais nouveau (I swear I’m not making this up). As I continued to unload with one hand and drink wine with the other, ANOTHER employee offered to unload my cart for me. They gave my cranky, whining angel a sticker, handed me my receipt and we were out the door, where another parking attendant held up traffic while I put my groceries in the car, then took my cart from me and continued to hold traffic while I loaded my squirming child into her car seat and backed out. Now THAT’S FRIGGIN SERVICE!

  • Sarah

    As a fellow fiber lover, what is the name of this delicious blueberry cluster cereal that could choke a horse?

  • Colleen

    Apparently, bad service is everywhere. I especially love it when the clerk at the grocery store rolls her eyes at me because – God forbid – I actually make her earn her pay by doing some work.I feel like I have to apologize for coming to the grocery store to spend my money because I have inconvenienced the hired staff by showing up.

    Go figure.

  • JS

    I’m less offended by the machine than by the way the ahole said “kid.”

    Spencer is so great, though.

  • Anonymous

    I would have kicked the bitch. Oh, and the computer, too.

  • C’tina
  • http://www.hopelyn.com Hope

    I’ve been lucky enough that the self scanning machines in Madison function pretty well and I rush towards them whenever possible. Maybe it’s because I’d rather deal with a machine than the rude clerks. The one thing that does annoy me is the obnoxiously loud volume on the self scanners. The first time it reads the price aloud I nearly crap myself.

  • http://log.davedot.com/ Dave Vogt

    I’ve dealt with self checkouts that range from ok to awful. I don’t know if you have BJ’s out there (wholesale club, my local one is right next to a Dick’s) but the self-checkout there actually has what appears to be an IR height-scanner. You know, so you don’t scan pickles and send down a package of diapers. The problem with this device is that a set of unpowered rollers on a slight incline propel your purchase past this device, commonly leading to falling and, you guessed it, the machine that talks in caps lock.

    Afterward, I console myself that I was shopping at BJ’s next to Dick’s on Hard Rd.

  • Terri Sinclair

    Have hope. When Leta reaches the age of 8 and above she will be able to use any machine automatically, just by looking at it. When I check out of the store I stand back and watch in amazement as the 13 year old scans, weighs and swipes in short order while I stand there scratching my head. It’s built into “them”. Any of this technology comes automatically to them. If Leta was 13 you could have had your redesign up and running in less than 24 hours! Really. Jon could have given you a nice oil massage and by the time you got out of a hot shower the web site would be have been done. That’s what you have kids for these days, didn’t you know?

  • jt

    With the new design, do your daily Chuck photos get posted to “Daily Chuck” instead of on the main page? If so, boo. :-(
    Google Reader doesn’t see postings to “Daily Chuck”, so I don’t get my once or twice daily Chuck-bites unless I go looking for them. They used to be happy surprises that would pop up from time to time.
    Oh well, this is still my most-avidly-read site. Thanks for being here.

  • CareBear

    Wow…I can’t believe all of the animosity coming from “Anonymous”. Over a blog post. About someones life. About something that just about all of us have had mad issues with.

    Chill out Anonymous. Yikes. (yes, I said yikes)

  • http://ptsoft.blogspot.com BugHunter

    They aren’t for everyone, but I think they work just fine for those of us they are meant for. The average person should definately not use them, and more of the normal lines should be open to them. As for me they speed up the check out process a ton, it’s the waiting in that line behind the people who don’t know what they’re doing that’s unbearable.

    Heather, if you find yourself in the self-checkout line in any of the stores in millcreek/sugarhouse, I’m the guy waiting in line scowling at you. Do us both a favor and wait in the long line for people who need caring.

  • llcoolbrown

    You know, I love your mastheads but this one kind of looks rushed. The white curved lines remind me of wonder woman and that is so not you. I dig the purple and Chuck, well he’s awesome as usual. But I’m not feeling the white even in the stars. Like you care I’m sure.


  • http://hippobrigade.com Beckey

    Sucky yucky self check out machines. They lure you in with their fancy touch screens and bright pictures of produce…but what the hell do they have to do with Spencer? Did I miss something?

  • lummels

    heather, you are so f*cking HILARIOUS.
    as the mother to a so-called “spirited” nearly-two-year-old-hellion boy, and as a usability researcher 8 to 5, i laughed and cried through this entry. i think my favorite, ever. it’s all summed up here.
    thanks, sister!

  • rb

    Wow. I shop at Star Grocery in Berkeley (CA) where they have not had a remodel since the 1950s. They just recently got a stand-alone credit card/debit card thing that all three checkstands have to share. Most people just use their accounts – you know, the accounts where you write your account # on a carboned invoice slip and they mail you a bill once a month?

    I think I need to hug Star Grocery on my way home.

  • Batwing

    Nobody’s even mentioned the hell of juggling your kid, the kid’s gear, your carry-ons, your e-ticket number, your wallet, and your credit card at those self-service kiosks at the airport. I have leaned on them and wept, loudly, till the one attendant serving 7 machines finally got around to helping me out.

    And to the asshat making the mom’s life even worse (and the commenters who self-righteously defend him/her): one, no matter how much you hate kids now, you were one, and I’m betting that if you are willing to snarl at other people as an adult you were no picnic as a kid, either. Also keep in mind that YOUR mother likely chatted amiably with a clerk who had handed you a piece of candy to keep you busy, and then she got to hold your hand as you both walked alongside the bagger to her car, no tip expected. Or that’s how I remember it way back in the way back of the 70s in a mid-sized, midwestern town.

  • Zoe

    I loathe those machines and believe that they are an affront to my basic humanity. They are a cheap and transparent attempt to do away with “customer service.” Pretty soon they’ll be making us pay for the chips they want implanted into our foreheads, too. Money-grubbing bastards.

  • http://www.almostvegetarian.com Almost Vegetarian

    Poor customer service is simply short-term gain. As in, grab the money now. What they haven’t figured out is that it will equal long-term pain. As in, companies that treat us shabbily will be abandoned for companies that treat us with some dignity and respect.

    There are already companies I prefer to avoid. For example, I’ll avoid Macy’s and go to Nordstrom’s whenever I can. Why? Macy’s has an appalling return policy while Nordies will take anything, and they do so with a smile. I’ll go to Borders over Barnes and Noble, too. I refuse to even set foot inside a Best Buy. I’d rather pay more elsewhere.

    And don’t get me started on AT&T. Everyone hates them.

    BTW, I think you had great strength of character not slapping the person who kept referring to your daughter as “kid” in that tone of voice.


  • http://www.lostinthought.net/blog Vicky

    God yes!! I hate self check out, it terrifies me. One time, I didn’t put the thing in the bag, and then the machine yelled at me and I did, and it said I had two of it in the bag because it got confused, and ohhh I hate them so much!!

    Vicky from the UK

  • Kristie C.

    I agree with the comment about Car Carts. I can get my kids (ages 2 and 4) to sit in those forever! They never want to get out!

    However, I have learned to time my grocery shopping excursions for Sunday during naptime. My husband can stay home and watch football while the kids nap and I get to shop in peace and quiet. I don’t mind the self check-out lanes too much, I love the “skip bagging” button that pops up on the ones in my grocery store!

  • Amber

    I live in Brooklyn, and I second Mihow on the FreshDirect option. I pretty much use that service and then visit either my corner deli with the amazing produce and the world’s most efficient checkout process (with real, live helpful humans–thank you, awesome Korean deli!) or the farmer’s market for the rest. When I am forced to visit the local Key Food, a heinous NYC grocery store where I swear the clerks are hired based upon their level of surliness, I prefer the self-checkouts. For one, I feel much more comfortable yelling back at a machine than at one of the can’t-be-bothered-to-look-at-you clerks. I expect indifference from a machine, but it really bothers me coming from a person. I was so excited to see the self checkouts when they recently arrived, because I used to leave the grocery store angry every time. I agree that they suck for produce, though–my boyfriend was unwittingly putting weight on the machine last time and it was like, “TOMATOES, 43 DOLLARS!” Um, no.

  • http://www.justanotherjenn.com Jenn

    While the machines are tricky, I will admit I am freakishly drawn to them. Once upon a time I was a lowly “bagger” and I yearned to be a cool “checker.” Those self check-out machines make me feel like after 15 years and a college degree later, I can say “suck it Checkers!” I guess I have issues…

  • http://navimama.blogspot.com Navi

    wow. Our big box stores with self checkouts cram good customer service down their trainees throats, at least the one I used to work at did

    That and Michiganders tend to get pretty mean if we don’t get good service… so most places tend to give it…

  • Miles Fore

    Goddamn those stupid little fucking machines!!

  • Sharon

    I’m having an outsourced caring experience this week myself with Verizon. The company who stalked us for months, begging us to switch to their internet/phone/tv service. Well nothing but trouble and no able bodies to help. Lots of call back tomorrow, speak to billing, speak to tech support, we’ll call YOU back. Maddening.

  • http://www.chocklate2.wordpress.com Maya

    Ahhh yes, the commonality of the soul…expressed poetically via the HATRED of STUPID NON-WORKING MACHINES. I love it. Love the new style section!

  • http://www.threeseven.ca Shannon

    Hateful things. I hate how they freak out if you try to use your own bags. Environmentally hostile little electronic pricks.

  • http://www.alikelystory.blogs.com Kath


    Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen.


  • Regina

    1. Self-checkout machines suck, hard core.
    2. Give me a slack-jawed, gum-chewing, high-school-aged checker who gossips with the bagger about high school any day. You can even give me a grim-faced old German lady who doesn’t say anything except how much you owe her. I would rather be ignored or disregarded than chatted up by the checker in a way that is completely fake. The person who is checking my groceries doesn’t care how my day is going- why should they be required by management to ask me about it solicitiously as if they were my therapist? I would also prefer if the clerk didn’t compliment me on what I’m wearing (we’re not friends, or even acquaintences!) or on my selection of groceries (um, yes, I know that X is yummy, that is why I chose it from the shelf). The worst is when they eyeball my selection and make a guess about what I’m planning to make with it, or ask me if I’m planning on watching a football game when I get home from the store. Why? Why do perfect strangers feel the need to make such unnecessary personal remarks? All of you who are mourning the loss of conversational cashiers, come visit Wisconsin- you’ll get more than your fill here.

    However, you will still have to deal with the fact that when they ask you “if you found everything you were looking for today” they still don’t actually care or even give a d@#$ when you tell them you were looking for an item and they didn’t have it.

    3. Awesome story, Heather!

  • http://blinkandbreathe.wordpress.com Vanni B

    A couple of years ago they tried to put those machines in one of the supermarket here (West Vancouver, BC, Canada) and the workers picketed for several months. Most customers avoided the store and it went belly-up. Evil averted. One for humans. 100000000000000000000000 for machines.

  • http://jbirdbrain.blogspot.com Birdie

    Bwah ha ha! I’m only laughing this hard because I have, more than once, entertained the idea of destroying the self checkout machine with a tire iron. I feel your pain, sista.

    Oh, and incidentally, I love, love, LOVE your site. Thanks!

  • http://www.gobooboo.blogspot.com Annette

    totally been there. i can’t believe someone said that to you.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/mollyh61398 Molly

    Can you post the Creamed Onions recipie? :)

    I hate the self-checkout.

  • sam

    oddly enough, i often seek out those self-check out lines because where i live, the machine is often more rational and capable of checking me out than the morons that sit at the registers. plus i’m anti-social. i’m aware of it and working on it. :)

    but i would probably feel MUCH differently with children. my friends with kids seem to have a portion of their brain permanently multi-tasking on the status and activities of said children. not making fun, it’s rather cool to watch.

    p.s. ditto on the outsourcing “care”. it’s starting to feel like no one gives a shit these days… happy holidays!

  • http://bigpikchur.blogspot.com Jules

    That is simultaneously the best and worst looped clip of The Hills EVER. Whenever Spencer is on screen, I want to punch him in the fake teeth; which is exactly what I want to do to those self check-out lanes at the grocery store.
    House of Jules

  • wifeunit

    If I get issues from the self checkout machines I give them the finger or a fuck you. They deserve it. But I am a fan of avoiding interacting with humans. My dad said a couple days ago that there is one thing he believes in this world: people suck. So it is how I was raised. Too many check out people are better suited to the dmv with their slowness and annoyingness that just because they need to spend eight hours in that particular shithole doesnt mean the rest of us do.

    Someone mentioned the cockneck retailers that inspect receipts as you exit. There is nothing worse than dealing with that bullshit. Except when the fucker tells you to have a ‘blessed day’. If I wanted a religious retail experience I would have gone to the christian book store.

    And what prick gave those automated telephone the ability to deny a press of zero to get transferred to a human.

    Please say or press your account number
    “I want to talk to a fucking person”
    I’m sorry, I didnt quite understand. Please say or press your account number
    “I want to talk to a FUCKING person”
    I’m sorry, I didnt quite understand you. Please say or press your account number
    I’m sorry, I wasnt able to understand you. I will transfer you to a person


    All of these things and what comes to mind is one of my most favorite movie lines:

    “This is what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass”

  • danni

    Hmmm I have mixed emotions about these having worked in a grocery store. The reason for my dislike is the bad ones, that make you bag as you go. I prefer the ones that let you put the items on the belt. Less yelling that way. I hate the fact that they also take away jobs and how much mangement tries to steer customers to use them.
    Try moving to Texas where people are freakishly cheerful. Coming from Boston I am unnerved when people 1.try to make eye contact with me and 2.when they try to take my groceries out to my car. I have had to ask them not to follow me out to the car because they will trail after me otherwise with a strange kicked in the privates look on there face. God, I hate this place.

  • Karen

    Your way with words is brilliant… yet in a world where we can’t cure cancer, and are confronted with stupidity and evil on a regular basis blah, blah, blah… people still feel the need to be the grammar police. Seriously people. Get a life! We all make typos and use words in our own way. In my opinion you can use the word enormity in any damn way you want. Knock yourself out!

  • http://mommyandthemarine.com Kelly

    ARGH! I hate those self checkouts but my husband LOVES them. I think he was deprived as a child and never played “store” I HATE HATE HATE them!

  • Sarah

    I despise those damned self checkers so much that I will stand in an extra long line with ALL MY KIDS with me. I will stand in the 18 minutes long wait line with a 8,7,4,and 2 year old before I use one of those cursed self checkers. I HATE THEM. They are the bane of my existence. If I wouldn’t get arrested I would attack on with a baseball bat. I even tried to use one once but my 8 year old accidently touched it and then they think I have bought 85 pounds of oranges. Seriously. I HATE them and avoid them at all cost.