Monday, November 12, 2007
It was three o'clock in the afternoon and still I had not had lunch. So driven by hunger and a shortage of time I dashed into Tesco's before my final meeting of the day to grab a sandwich and a healthy bag of crisps. The place was swarming with people. Either there had been rumour that the end of the world was nigh, or Christmas eve had come early or three o'clock is the shopping hour in Glossop. Whatever it was, Tesco's was full of people shopping. It also seemed that all the checkout staff had decided that three o'clock was a good time for a break. The result was chaos at the checkouts. With time being of the essence I decided to use the self service checkouts. Well I mean how difficult could it be? I am a reasonably intelligent sort of bloke. I can, when absolutely necessary read and follow instructions. The first thing that struck me as odd was that as soon as I put my purchases onto the thingy that reads the bar code, an assistant appeared by my side and asked me if I wanted help. I mean that was very nice of her, but it rather defeated the point I would have thought. I politely declined and gave her a smile that was meant to convey to her that I knew what I was doing and in fact I was going to amaze her with my proficiency to such an extent that I would probably be signed up to do nationwide tours of Tesco stores and demonstrate to the masses just how easy it was to use their self service checkouts. She probably thought I was a demented half wit who just smiled like that because I couldn't help it. I turned back to get on with the task. She stayed where she was, ready to help. Well the first thing that went wrong was the the bar code thingy would not read the bar code. I tried to straighten the packaging out, to make it easier for the stupid machine but only succeeded in tearing it so that half the bar code was unreadable. I looked at the instructions. You could enter the bar code in manually or try and find your purchase from a list. I chose the later option. It did not seem to have sandwiches on it. A trickle of sweat ran down my back. I felt the hovering presence of the assistant beside me. I abandoned the sandwiches and grabbed the crisps. I mean how hard could this be for fucks sake. I have got a degree and a responsible job surely I could manage to put a few purchases through the self service checkout. The bar code thingy actually read the crisps and there was a satisfying bleep. A small victory but there was still the packet of sandwiches. I waved them pathetically at the bar code reading thingy. It was not having it. By now there were two assistants watching my lack of progress. One of them stepped forward relieved me of the sandwiches and with a smug I told you so smile entered the numbers. The machine bleeped happily. All I had to do was to pay and make a dignified exit. Neither was easy under the circumstances.