• Sabrina

    This is reminiscent of every experience I’ve ever had with the self check out. Even without having to manage a child, my brain often oozes out of my ears, I break into a cold sweat, and go completely fucking postal every time I have to deal with it. And the lazy “attendant” is the same in every store in every part of the country; acts as if you have ruined his/her entire life by requiring assistance with a machine that is incapable of functioning the way it was designed.

    Sometimes it is necessary to put people in their place, and in this situation it sounds like it was absolutely warranted. Good for you.

  • Chris

    Jesus, I hate those machines. The grocery stores I usually shop at do not have them (hence, I shop there more!) but the store closest to our house does. That is the emergency store, as in, “Crap, I forgot to get sour cream!” shouted mid-recipe. I’ve never had to do one of these runs with a preschooler in tow but still, even getting just three items, something always goes wrong. And yes, the cashier acts like you’re a total moron, it’s all your fault, and now her day is totally ruined.

    And heaven help you if you discover that the bread you’ve just scanned is totally moldy as you go to put in the bag. That’s a hanging crime.

  • http://egarooo.blogspot.com/ KittyGlendower

    You are right, they don’t want to care, they just want your money for as little effort as possible. I compare current vendors (including supermarkets) to being one degree from street thugs/thieves. Soon it will just be “give me your money @#$@)#*, NOW!

    No service, no product, nothing, just hand over the cash.

  • http://barbie2be.blogspot.com barbie2be

    i hate those freakin’ self check out machines. if i get to the front of the store and the only have those and a long line for the ONE actual person manned check out, i will leave my cart in the line and just leave. i will go out of my way to go to some other store that has humans doing the check out and force THEM to care.

  • Jeanette

    I steer clear of them every time. I panic at the thought of weighing my produce and then looking up the stupid numbers in the 100+ page book they have with codes. I just read someone’s rant in the comments about the aisles being too small and how they never have them all open…she is SO dead on.

    Stop & Shop JUST introduced an even LESS caring checkout maneuver. Grab a scanner and some bags when you enter the store. Scan your items and bag them as you shop. I’m really not kidding. No, seriously. Scan and bag your groceries as you shop. They do nothing except pocket your cash at the end. Damn you Stop & Shop!

  • Anne

    Um… I don’t know, I sort of like the self check out.

    Not only can you buy all the hemmoroid cream, pregnancy tests and Rogaine that you’ll ever need, totally anonymously, but we also scam the supermarket and Home Depot by letting my husband pay with my credit card when he goes to these stores by himself.

    Take that!

  • http://blithelybabbling.blogspot.com b*babbler

    Perhaps we should all band together, kidnap the CEO’s of said evil conglomerates and chain them for hours on end to their useless machines, where they will be forced to process cart after cart of groceries (most, of course, should be unlabeled produce) while dealing with our crazy toddlers (who should, of course, be hopped up on a bowl of pure refined sugar in preparation.)

    And just for good measure, they should, of course, be chained slightly out of reach of the chocolate bars, left tantalizingly close to little toddler hands.

    Do you think, then, we might get some real, live cashiers again? (Even if they do gab endlessly about ohmygawdJessica’slittlebrothersnewcar with their fellow cashiers whilst burying our bread under the 15 cans of soup.)

  • Froger1995

    Ok, reasons why I LOVE the self checkout machine:

    1. I can avoid being stuck in line behind stupid people who STILL use checks in this day and age

    2. I can avoid being stuck in line behind stupid people who don’t know how to use the friggen card reader

    3. I can avoid being stuck in line behind stupid people who can’t seem to punch in their pin numbers correctly

    4. I can avoid being stuck in line behind stupid people who are too distracted by their kids to get through the check out line efficiently

    Sorry…but when you are a young, single, and childless…the rest of the world is stupid. Thank GOD for Outsourced Caring!

  • Anonymous

    sensiegirl….you just very well might. i don’t like to be told what i should and shouldn’t put up with, and just because i hate being told what to love doesn’t mean i’m not lovable.

  • Anonymous

    Love it!

    You are lucky that Leta wasn’t climbing the candy rack that is strategically placed right next to the self checkout lane! Mine would have been.

    Technology is so fun!

  • Alison

    What was the correlation between that video and your experience at the store?
    Outsourced Caring is great name for that, btw..thank you globalization…by the end of reading your entry I was so mad too..I was hoping for a step by step play of how you kicked the crap our of that machine…

  • Ellen

    I don’t think words could describe the burning hatred I feel towards self-checkout machines. Every time we try to scan something, the damn thing tells me to go find an employee. This is typically unhelpful seeing as whenever I ask someone for “help,” they seem to go temporarily deaf. And when I’ve finally succeeded in scanning an item, I’ll put it in the bag yet the machine still tells me to PLEASE PUT THE ITEM BACK IN THE BAG.

  • Anonymous

    OMG, that happens in Minnesota too, to all us nicey-nice Scandihoovians.

    Those machines are surely the work of the devil.

  • Anonymous

    I always bring my own bags to the grocery store and OH does it drive those machines around the bend that I am not placing my produce in the EXACT SPOT where the official, state-sanctioned plastic bags are located. Always this breaks the machine. Always.

    Personally, I am not entirely against the concept of self-serve checkouts. Supermarket cashier is a shitty job anyway. But it’s one of those instances where the technology was deployed about 5 years before they were actually done fixing it.

    (P.S. They scream across the store for a reason – precisely to avoid the ol’ pomegranates/bananas switcheroo.)

  • http://www.horrordiet.com Melle

    I prefer the self-checkout machines. That way, I don’t have to fake friendly with the cashier if I’m not in the mood, they don’t get to announce, “Thank you, Mrs. Whoozawhatsit” every time I go through the checkout line, and mostly, I just like to make the scanner beep.

    It’s a cheap thrill.

  • http://www.jameykayyoung.com Jameykay


  • Siobhan

    I have a love hate relationship with self-checkouts. The ones at Wal-Mart are crap, all the time, the ones at Home Depot are okay, and the ones at the grocery store always seem to work fine. UNLESS you are a wanna be greenie like me and try to use your reusable bags in the self checkout. Then it starts yelling at you “Place your items in the bag! Scan your items first!”, because it recognizes the bag as an item. So I froze in front of them and got all sweaty, much like you described in your post. All drippy down the neck. Lovely.

  • Catfish

    Just last week I gave one of those machines a “right good fucking”. Unfortunately I think the robot enjoyed it more than I did because after the fact it closed the aisle, smoked a Marlboro Light, and started ordering me to RE-SCAN THE ITEM! RE-SCAN THE ITEM!, whereas I had to drive myself to the hospital to get a blood transfusion.

    Robots are nasty.

  • Mo

    The self-checkout machines never fail to piss me off every single time I use them. I feel your pain.

  • Angieg

    Wow, I’ve never seen anyone (need to) correct your grammar before. I have learned something about “enormity” and “enormousness” today.

    By the way, my daughter is asking for more pictures of Leta, since there haven’t been many lately. Thanks for the turkey and mashed potato-free story!

  • John

    Heather, that self-checkout machine was the parent of the blender you killed. :P

    I hate the things. It wouldn’t be so bad if they worked.

    As for Froger1995, Item #4, dude, you’re in the wrong place — flake off.

  • Nickie M

    Well clearly you and your adorable daughter needed putting in your places :P The thing that gets me about those self-checkouts is that they clearly don’t trust you to scan everything yourself, hence all the weighing things, but yet the store makes you try it anyway. It sounds like something I’d do to my fiancé…

  • Libby

    I have a fantasy about a world where you can go throughout your ENTIRE day and not interact with ANYONE. Grocery store? Nope. Don’t have to interact there. Gas station? Nope. Buying clothes? Do it online. I think I could probably go from now until death and never deal with another human being face-to-face again.

    Disturbing. Deeply disturbing, because that’s not a fantasy world. I’ll pay $0.05 extra for pickles if I can interact with a human. I’m sure some sociologist out there is studying this as we speak, looking for a connection between our automated, humanless society and crime. Betcha a pickle.

  • Amanda

    Fuck those motherfucking fuckety fucking machines. I hate them. I have three young children…THREE..and FUCK FUCK anyone who is standing behind me…or waiting for me to write a check, or gets pissed cause I am not moving fast enough. FUCKITALL.
    You don’t like where I am, what I am doing, or how I am doing it…get in another line.

  • http://www.opaqueprintproduction.com/jbblog JennB

    I certainly hope that the rest of your holiday didn’t involve any other stranger screaming at you. What a pain in the ass.

    I love Outsourced Caring ™. Genius.

  • Melanie

    I like how you use the “TM” after “Outsourced Caring”, as though you invented the phrase. I’ve heard others use the exact same term, without trying to claim ownership. Very clever of you to try though.

    And yes, self check-out sucks.

  • http://intotherain.org Bobbi-lee

    I have never used those self-checkouts. Once I was shopping and my fiance and I spent almost 2 hours buying stuff froma big store and then when we proceeded to head for the checkout there was a girl serving a customer so we lined up behind that customer. But when that customer was finished she suddenly said to us that this checkout was closed and we had to go to the self serve checkout right over on the other side. So we proceeded over there when suddenyl she announced over the speakers that the store was closing, and out of no where all these people rushed to lineup at those counters. So it went from 3 people to 50 in 2 lines for slef serve. We couldn’t be bothered waiting that long let alone doing it all ourself when they get paid to be checkout staff so we left everything there and never went back.

  • http://audreyii.livejournal.com CarrieICL

    Sooner or later, those self-serve checkouts will just scan our brains directly. That’ll be much more convenient.

  • teresa

    If we could channel the collective rage aimed at self-check-out machines, surely we could end world hunger. So maybe they could be good for something?

    I strayed from my favorite grocery store once. I was lured by their ad for all the “10 for $10″ crap that happened to be on my shopping list that week. When I got to what was supposed to be “My store,” I found 2 of the 12 on-sale items actually in stock. And the alternative brand of the rest was at least twice the price. What should have been an approximately $50-60 trip ended up costing me just under $100. Grrr.

    So now I go to Macey’s (honest, it’s a grocery store in Utah!) and nowhere else. In almost seven years, I cannot remember one single bad experience there. And they don’t even have a self-check-out stand.

  • Katrena

    This happens every time! I shop at a high end Ralphs here in CA – and they have self check out! Why am I paying more money to not have someone check my groceries for me? It takes 3 times as long and it’s so frustrating. Ahhh!

  • http://seehearspeaknoevil.com jess

    i let my kids scan the groceries at stores that have these. they have to behave in the store to earn the privilege and they enjoy it. would leta be down with that?

  • http://www.missleonie.com Leonie

    I used one for the very first time at Boots today. I was queued up for the registers when this lovely lady came over to remind us that they now have self-check outs and would I like to use one?

    I quickly realised that I’d be quicker in the self-check out department than in line waiting, because I was the only one giving it a go, and that shopping assistant? She was just the person to work that damn machine for me. Ha. In your face, stupid computer Boots!

  • Anonymous

    why can’t froger have an opinion contrary to popular belief or the ass kissing of everyone here? does heather turn the comments on so that everyone will agree with her? that’s just as bad as making people use those fucking machines!

    not everyone loves children, people. i could never understand why people can hate animals, jesus, baby jesus, whatever, yet god forbid they don’t have children or even more surprising, don’t like other people’s children!

  • http://sanctitysabbatical.blogspot.com/ Strizz

    That guys teeth bother me

  • Tim

    Heather, run, DON’T WALK, and get “Outsourced Caring” trademarked. I’m serious. You guys could make a boatload going around to Fortune 500 companies doing “Outsourced Caring” seminars and trainings. WOW.

    Seriously, I’m sorry you had the experience. I’m sure we can figure out some way this is all Jon’s fault. :)

  • Jami

    I feel your hatred for the self check out machines. Every single time I use one my husband has to pull me away from it so that I don’t destroy the machine or the worried cashier that is trying to figure out why I’m trying to kill the machine. I really hate how slow they are, how they have to explain, in detail, every single step to scanning in your groceries.
    The thing I hate the most is their weight sensor. They either can’t tell that you have put anything in the bag, or breathing near the bag makes the machine have a seizure.
    Hate. Hate. Hate.

    Love the blog by the way.

  • Scott

    This reminded me of the story about the guy arrested recently at a Home Depot.


    Glad you only had a box of cereal :-) Since I learned a long time ago not to take my 4 year old to the store, I use the auto-checkout all the time. I can’t imagine shopping with a on-the-loose 4 year old. You are a brave woman!

  • http://moumou.ca/ Rebecca

    i’ve had to use one of those machines at a wal-mart when i visited the states, i’m glad canada still hire people to care.. unfortunately i’m one of those people, but it beats being replaced by a machine and needing a “right good fucking” haha

  • http://www.moxiethemaven.com MoxieTheMaven

    What I love (hate) about those machines is the way they breed a never-ending line of critics behind the poor person checking out. You’re trying to scan your tampons or whatever, the machine is screaming at you about said tampons, and there’s a line of 10 people behind you, all glaring at you as if they know EXACTLY how to make the machine operate PERFECTLY. And then, without fail, each of those people gets up to bat and has just as much trouble as the person they just scorned. The cycle never ceases.

  • http://www.dechubbification.blogspot.com/ Erin

    I love the self-checkouts.

    I did take an inordinate amount of pleasure watching Bill Bryson (the writer) utterly fail to negotiate them at the local KMart. Heh.

    However, I think there’s a marked customer service difference between having a few for the hugely impatient people like myself, and having only self-checkouts.

  • http://flatman.blogsot.com Flatman

    “Oddly, I’ve never been trained to tell someone that their machine needs a right good fucking, but I manage to do it as if everything in my life has been leading up to this exact moment.”

    I don’t think I have ever laughed harder…thank you.

  • Belinda

    As you can see you’re not alone in the hatred of self check outs. I have only experienced them a couple of times up here in Canada, Home Depot being one of them and a couple of times shopping in the States with my Husband. The machines yell at me too and I can’t even blame a child for touching things it is just me I guess.

    My pet peeve are people who can’t figure out how to use the automated ticket machines at the Movies. I mean seriously it’s a touch screen not rocket science and supposed to be quick. I work in the credit card industry and I seriously want to walk up and take over for them.

    Maybe at moments like that I should remember my own ineptitude at the Home Depot.

  • http://advicefromasinglegirl.blogspot.com/ Victoria


  • April Coxe

    Hey Anonymous,
    I believe Heather’s point is that there weren’t enough “regular” lines open. Why such an ass?

  • Missypotamia

    I tried to by condoms at a self check out machine at my local grocery store once.(Immature considering that I am all about the safe sex, and am 26 years old- meaning I should have come to terms with the fact that Im having sex in the first place… but thats a whole other story.) In the end it took 3 people 10 minutes to help me pay for my stupid box of condoms. I am convinced that this is god punnishing me for having premarital sex.

  • Anonymous

    The plus of self check outs…
    it’s so much easier to steal from huge corporations. Do I EVER pay for half the shit from Wal Mart? No.

    Redistributive justice. They practically steal from farmers and small businesses in their efforts to commodify the WORLD (and self checkouts are just that- they’re homogenizing the shopping experience by taking out the variable of another human’s actions), so I steal avocados and apples in practicum when I’m forced by economics to shop there.

  • heatherp

    Since I lack a child to handle or the budget to buy much at any given time, my issue with the self-checkouts is different. Reagan taught us all a great lesson about the “miracle” of the trickle down: that it is hardly a miracle, or even functional for the average person. The minor product price decreases that self-checkout stands represent are negligible. What really happens is CEOs save money and boost profit margins while decreasing local employment opportunities. The only miraculous or awe-inspiring thing about this scenario is that we’ve been duped into not only padding their pockets by shopping at their stores, but also becoming the low wage labor they refuse to employ. It’s magic! Wheee!

  • http://www.tri4ever.blogspot.com Fe-lady

    Bolder directed me to your site…thank you Bolder!

  • Sarah

    This recalls the time I got stuck in the endless UNKNOWN ITEM IN BAGGING AREA / ITEM HAS BEEN REMOVED FROM BAGGING AREA loop. The pain!

  • http://www.throughhazeleyes.com Jessica

    I hate those things. They annoy the hell out of me but my fiance, Bryan has to go to the every damn time. Either he actually enjoys doing it himself or he does it to annoy me.