Image via WikipediaWhen you checkout your groceries at the supermarket do you go to a regular cashier, or do you opt for the self checkout lane? I only use the self checkout when I have a few items and there isn't a line of people waiting to use the robot cashier.
It's a lot easier and a whole lot faster to go to a lane where there is a real person behind the conveyor belt to scan your goods with grace and swiftness. I was once a cashier, I worked my way through college at Whole Foods, and while checking out groceries isn't a science, the people who do it for a living know how to do it much quicker and with fewer errors than the average citizen.
Even waiting behind someone with a full shopping cart at a regular checkout is faster than waiting in the self checkout lane. Take the other night, for example: Ben and I were walking home after eating a dinner of delicious burritos when we decided to stop in the grocery store to pick up a few things. In our basket was a bottle of sparkling water, some cans of cat food, and some other sundry item that I can't remember right now.
The standard cashier lanes were occupied with large orders and there was a robot cashier free, so we went over to that and I began scanning our items. The process went smoothly enough until Ben decided at the end of the transaction that he wanted cash back. He swiped his card to pay and selected the amount he wanted, fifty dollars, and the machine started to process it. It spat out thirty five dollars and started making funny sounds.
Over on another robot, two girls tried scanning something but it wasn't working. Instead of trying to type the barcode of the item in themselves, they had the cashier in charge of the robots over at their station who was busy typing in the item manually. We waited patiently for the robot master to finish helping the girls while a growing angry crowd of shoppers waiting to use the self checkout machines stared on from the queue.
The cashier finally came over, turned her key in the machine, typed in a few buttons and gave Ben the rest of his cash withdrawal, easy peasy. Well, it could have been easier had we went with a human cashier.
Personally, I like exchanging pleasantries with the cashier as he or she scans my goods while I bag them in the reusable bags I brought with me (just another easy way to go green). Yeah, you might have to remove your iPod headphones for a few minutes, but what's the big deal?
My question is this: is it so detestable in this day and age to have to interact with another human for five minutes while they process your groceries? Is it that awkward, that much of a hardship? What does it say about our society when we would rather deal with a malfunctioning machine than interact with another human for a brief moment?
What do you think?