Check Yourself Out

In brief praise of this blessed machine.

Photo: Random Retail/Flickr

Human interaction is valuable and without it, I would be a husk of a person speaking not in words but in sharp, feral barks. Talking to the person at the grocery store about the weather or my upstairs neighbor makes me feel like a human being again, when I’ve been in the house for too long.

But sometimes, when I’m at Target and it’s late and I’m buying Kit Kats, a new sweatshirt, some underpants and lightbulbs, I want to just get in, get out and move on with my day. The line at the self-checkout machines is non-existent. I can plop my things into a bag, fumble with the chip reader on the machine, and then be on my way. I understand that maybe by using this machine, I’m part of the problem, contributing to the automation of work and slowly chipping away at a workforce that will soon become obsolete. Still, I just like using it. I like to do things quickly. I like to spend the money and then leave.

They should (and probably will) be everywhere, but the one place I feel the do not belong is a clothing store. When searching for something to peg this very simple blip of a post about my passion for self-checkout machines , I stumbled upon this bit of news about self checkout machines being rolled out as a test at some Zara stores in the UK.

Hate the queues in Zara? They could be about to get a lot shorter

In concept, it’s brilliant. Shopping is fine until you actually get in line. The self-checkout machines allow you to purchase your clothes from the safety of the dressing room and be on with it. The bulky, plastic security tags full of ink that stain the hands of young shoplifters everywhere are not in use at Zara; they use RFID tags, which identify the clothing via magic and radio frequencies and note when an item has been sold. The tags are removed and you can leave the store in peace without passing through the security gate and setting the thing off by accident.

Imagine how pleasant shopping would be if you had the option to purchase your things the minute you left the dressing room. Imagine having the experience of shopping in real life, with the somewhat seamless experience of doing it online, from the relative comfort of your home.

Something tells me I am alone in my passion for the self-checkout machine. That’s fine. Stand in line. Let me use them in peace. Will you run to one if you see it’s available or do you prefer to interact with a person as needed?

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