Rumination 68: Beware the Bagging Area!

Three illustrated shopping bags

My last rumination was inspired by a trip to the shops and so is today’s. (To be honest, my next one will also refer to a recent shopping experience.) In general, shopping centres and supermarkets offer wonderful opportunities to observe the weirdness of society.

During our most recent trip to do buy groceries, we were forced to use the self-checkout machine at Coles, as a number of lanes with humans were closed due to social-distancing measures. Those that were open had long lines. Typically, I avoid using these contraptions because I find them to be slow, unreliable and an example of automation that does very little to help anybody, particularly those who would otherwise have a job in the exact same space if it weren’t for that machine.

This most recent experience confirmed for me why I do not use them. Although we followed the recommended bagging procedure, the machine froze after only one item had been scanned; we required a staff member to unlock it for us. I took the photo below in immediate frustration, with the intention of writing this piece.

The funny thing is that this occurred three more times after I took this photo. With each freezing of the machine, we had to wait like fools for the same staff member, who was responsible for all the other befuddled customers in the same area who were experiencing the same problem.

We wasted so much time at this checkout and watched others struggle. It leaves me wondering what the actual benefit of these machines could be, other than profit (due to not paying people). It certainly couldn’t be saved time and with the increased likelihood of shoplifting, that makes it even more confusing.

The next time that you visit a supermarket, if such machines are available and you can avoid using them, do exactly that to send the organisation responsible a message. The less that we use them, the better.