I have a confession: Almost every single time I go the grocery store I use the self-checkout.
It doesn’t matter how many items. It doesn’t matter what kind of items.
I’m going to check myself out.
It’s about efficiency.
See overtime, I have perfected the skill of scanning and bagging my own groceries.
Start off by unfolding a brown paper bag (doing my part to cut down on the plastics!). Cans and bulky items first, and from there it’s Tetris.
Produce without a barcode? No problem. I know exactly where to click and what to type to get that product scanned.
I’m a pro – and I know this because a self-checkout monitor has told me before: ‘Wow. You’re a pro at this, huh?’
Yes sir, I am. I’m like Vince Downy from Employee of the Month.
But I’ve questioned my ways recently…
As I leave the self-checkout, I walk past empty aisles of cashiers on the way out of the store. Empty in terms of people in lines, and empty in terms of un-manned (and un-womaned) lanes – because there is simply not enough traffic to have a full row of cashiers on the clock.
And it’s become clear to me lately that I’m not the only one choosing the self-serve option – self-checkout has seemed to become a more popular option amongst a lot shoppers for whatever reason.
COVID might have had something to do with it. Or maybe people also perfected the ways of the self-checkout.
But it makes me think… am I adding to a problem? Am I making a selfish option? Am I taking jobs away from the single mother, or the young college student, or the veteran, or the person that didn’t go to college and needs this job to make ends meat?
Now there is still one grocery store where I use the standard cashier – mainly because they don’t offer a self-checkout option.
And that store is Trader Joe’s.
Once upon a time, I was not a believer in Trader Joe’s.
See, I am a simple man that loves my brand goods – but I have come to know the ways of Trader Joe’s.
They have some surprisingly great stuff on the shelves (especially in the frozen section), it’s clean, it’s not super expensive, the workers are incredibly helpful and friendly… almost uncomfortably so, as if they have a family member held for ransom in the back forcing them to go above-and-beyond in their service or else they’ll never see them again.
Also I have noticed that the shoppers there are just generally hot.
Men. Women. Attractive people shop at Trader Joe’s.
So of course I enjoy shopping there… although I don’t love checkout.
That’s because the cashiers at Trader Joe’s fit the bill of the rest of the store – they’re great. They smile. They’re friendly. They want to chat my ear off.
I know what it sounds like, and I don’t think I’m a grump – I like to be friendly with people.
But I’m just not a chit-chatter out in public.
Of course, they’re going to lead off with asking how my day is going and I always tell them good – regardless if my day is good or if I am having a mental breakdown internally, because what else are you supposed to do?
And then they always have a comment on something I’m buying.
‘Oh looky here, Trader Joe’s feta cheese. Is this any good?’
No, it’s horrible – that’s why I am buying it. Thank you.
I think these experiences at Trader Joe’s – no matter how friendly on the surface they are – have pushed me further into the self-checkout lifestyle.
Because while I walk past those empty lanes at Kroger and feel bad for my horrible self-service choices – I step into the Trader Joe’s and shudder at the overly-friendly interaction I know I am going to have to push through at checkout.
See when I shop for groceries I’m on a mission.
It’s get in and get out. No distractions.
And the thing is… those TJ cashiers have no idea how good they have it.
I would like to see them work for a week in the Wild West that is Kroger.
So while this is a reflection on the cause-and-effect of my choices at checkout, will I change my ways?
I need to stick to the mission.
And I’m too good to quit now.
But the next time I walk past those empty cashier lanes at Kroger – I’ll think about how I wish it was those sons of bitches at Trader Joe’s standing solemnly in their lanes.
Not the single mother whose paycheck I’m risking.