Unexpected Item in the Bagging Area (Part Two)

So, here you are again. It could just be fate or simply bad time management on your part, but it’s Friday again. The supermarket is heaving, full of those sweet little old ladies who morph into deadly assassins once they start to push that shopping trolley. The eyes in the back of your head switch into overdrive as you dodge those trolleys laden with tins of cat food for Tiddles.

The recent rioting in Britain would have been over in hours if the Government had sent in an army of old ladies with shopping trolleys instead of the Riot Police.

You look down into your basket and inside you’re cursing, or more specifically, cursing your memory. All you’ve got is a pack of your favourite ground coffee, a block of feta cheese and a bottle of olive oil – the items you forgot to purchase the day before, when the supermarket was much quieter.

You’re looking up and down the line again and the queues are like motorway traffic on a public holiday. Ridiculous. A sinking feeling hits you, as you realise there’s another option available – the self-service checkout . . .

You summon up nerves of steel, and then rush towards one that’s available, trying not to think about it too much – trying not to over-analyse . . .

Whoever designed these things is a madman – a cruel, twisted genius. You place your basket down carefully – you don’t want to set any alarms off – and then battle commences . . .

You’re standing there, looking like a juggler on a bad day as you turn each item this way and that, trying to find the bar code and then you scan it and put it straight into the carrier bag that’s suspended on 2 fancy looking coathangers, over the bagging area. You breath a sigh of relief as you successfully complete this task 3 times, and you’re starting to think you’re getting quite good at this, and maybe these touch screens aren’t so bad after all.

Now it’s time to pay, and, even though you wanted to pay cash, you know your performance has peaked now, and have to accept that trying to insert coins and notes into slots and apertures is a step too far. So, you pull out your wallet, take out your cash card and push it into the slot, feeling the tension draining away. The transaction’s almost complete.

Without thinking, while you’re waiting, you place your wallet down next to your bag of groceries in the bagging area and as soon as you hear that voice, ‘Unexpected Item in the Bagging Area’, you know you’ve lost the battle. Again.

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22 thoughts on “Unexpected Item in the Bagging Area (Part Two)

  1. I must have scanned hundreds of thousands of items during my two years as a checkout operator, but these days I always manage to stuff up those self-serve checkouts.

    I think they are a bad idea, and I fail to see how they save anybody’s time. I bought a king size mattress protector from a shop which has self-serve checkouts, only to get home and realise someone had swapped it instore for a much cheaper single one. You didn’t used to get so much of that before self-serve checkouts.

    More, and better paid, checkout operators is the answer.

    1. Hi Lynley,
      I don’t know whether it’s all part of a ‘maturing’ process, but I find increasingly that shopping creates stress, and the self-service checkout, for me, just adds to that.

  2. Very well written, Andy.
    And I agree completely. I’ve been terribly frustrated by those ‘self-checkout’ machines. I particularly hated to look up veggies/fruits and try to coax the machine to weigh them and calculate my charges.
    For years, I have avoided the self-check lane, even if I have to wait a few extra mins. in the other lanes.

  3. Haha I loved the end of this! It really is too true, every time I try to use the stupid things (usually for the childish fun of the bleeping >< ) I always end up regretting it, especially when it starts telling me off every other item o.O

  4. i hate them i hate them i hate them…i will not adjust…i will not accept…i will beat them with my fist every time. give me a person, no matter how dour and depressive and sore in the knees. i have bruised bananas in a fit of pique over those damned things. i have abandoned perfectly-ripened avocados and even a honey-drenched croissant…

  5. The self service checkouts in my local stores hate me – I’ve never not had a problem when I’ve tried to use them. I’m having a panic attack now just thinking about them…. ;)

  6. Oh I battle with those things all the time. One of the shops near me keeps insisting you put down your basket so it can weigh it, then you have to place your objects after scanning in the plastic bags on a weight sensitive scale. It keeps beeping that I’ve forgotten something if I have the gall to use my own fabric bags that I bring from home. (Speaking of unexpected item in the bagging area! It’s a BAG deal with it!)

  7. Yeah… I was always putting a knee on it, or sitting on it, while my poor dad was just trying to buy a couple of sprinkler heads or what have you. I now treat it with just the wary caution you described. :P Still, it can be quicker than a long line.

  8. Fun post! Too relatable!
    Love the title, too!
    (Thanks for allowing me not one, not two, but three whole exclamation points.) :>

  9. I hate them too. My husband refuses to use them. He reckons we should get a discount FOR using them, since we’re the ones doing the work. Besides, it takes jobs away. Give me a live human being any day.

  10. Because I’m Autistic, I prefer the self-checkouts over chatty cashiers, and while waiting in line to use the one in Sainsbury’s one day, I made everybody hate me more than they do the checkouts. I happened to be there on a day when they were actually behaving themselves for a change, and while they were all merrily booping away, I said in a voice higher than my own, “Unexpected item in the bagging area.” Everybody at the self-checkouts groaned and the staff member manning them even looked around to find out who required help before they realised that it was a real human being who had spoken. Yup, I’m evil!

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