May 29, 2014 - 7:38 AM
I am old enough to remember the empty promise of the digital age, the big lie propagated by that young pup Gates and his cohorts, that technology would improve our lives. It’s the twenty-first century for God’s sake. By now we were all supposed to be relaxing at home being amused to death by our i-things while computers did all the work.
We really believed the digital revolution was our friend, didn’t we? Instead it has shown itself to be a tool of the devil himself, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the most dastardly, soul-destroying, dehumanizing computerized demon of them all: The self-checkout machine.
Every time I do my weekly hunting and gathering at one of our appallingly-run “super” shops I tell myself I will at all costs avoid these infernal things, only to find my steely resolve melting in the face of two hundred shoppers lining up for the three staffed checkouts.
It starts well enough, with the warm, familiar mix of impatience and superiority you get from watching your hapless predecessors standing hopelessly by the frozen screen, scanning the vicinity with wide eyes in a vain search for the lone employee who can help them operate the wretched thing. You consider suggesting to store management (if they have any) that customers should be required to pass an IQ test before being allowed to use the self-checkouts. After all, it can’t be that complicated, can it?
You push a button to begin. Then the bloody thing talks to you, and not in a normal voice. It talks to you as if you were a dimwitted five-year-old who has just lost its mummy, in that saccharine, lilting “aren’t you just a little cutie-pie” voice one forever associates with annoying maiden aunts who only ever gave you socks for Christmas. And birthdays.
After a bit of shuffling to determine the position of the barcode you eventually manage to scan something, though God help you if you offer it produce: It will require a secret code. And if you don’t have one, it makes you look up the item by pushing more buttons. But don’t worry, there are little pictures in case you can’t tell the difference between a cucumber and a mushroom.
Having finally got it to register your intended purchase you are once again spoken to like an imbecile: “Please put the item IN the bag” it says, as if asking a kindergartener to clean up its crayons. Where did you think I was going to put it you stupid machine? ON the floor? IN my pocket? Then, while you’re still trying to prise apart the sealed opening of said bag, it says it again. And if you don’t hurry up it says “Please wait for an attendant.” That’s right sweetie, you need a grown-up to help you.
And suddenly you too have joined the ranks of those you cursed, standing hopelessly by the frozen screen, scanning the vicinity with wide eyes in a vain search for the lone employee.
— Grumpy Old Git is the ghost in the machine. He gibbles your mouse and makes your computer prematurely old and slow.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014