Rant – I’m The Only Person Who Likes Automated Tills

I’m fed up of hearing what is now a cliched bit of stand-up observational comedy: “Don’t you hate automated tills?” Mild chuckles. “Unexpected item in the bagging area.” Wild hilarity.

I think automated tills are a blessing. I regularly walk the streets with headphones in my ears for the simple reason that there’s nothing worth hearing. Violent tramp asking for money? Amped up busker murdering Oasis? Witless screaming teenage girls? So it’s good to go into a supermarket and pay for stuff without having to take off the headphones to hear the inevitable questions that are always asked: “need any bags?” and “got a club card?”

(Both these questions are always asked because they’re corporately dictated: the first because it’s in their interests to have people walking around advertising their store, the latter because it’s in their interests to know what you’re buying. This does not make these questions easier to take.)

My answers to these questions are always no and no, the first said more forcibly because I’m usually already opening my man bag and scooping the purchased items into it. I’ve tried not taking the headphones off and just saying no whenever the teller’s lips move, but I’m aware that I’m being rude.

You don’t get this problem with automatic till machines. I also like them because they’re a great way of getting rid of masses of change without the embarrassment of dumping a load of coins into a poor wage slave’s hand to count. The only problem is getting a human to verify you are not 12 when buying alcohol, but I’m sure the technology to wave the chip in your passport at the machine is not far down the pipeline. Bliss.

Yet people still moan, and speaking as someone who regularly stands frustrated behind people who spend the first five minutes staring blankly at the machine like they’re trying to decipher the Rosetta Stone, I know why they moan: they’re fucking morons.

If you don’t know how the machine works, don’t use it. If you have the nerve to moan about it as well, you’re not a pithy observer of the modern condition, you’re a menace to society. Stand to the side and watch other people use it first. To help, here’s a few tips.

1. You don’t need to press any buttons. Just swipe your items through and feed your money in at the end. If you’re quick like me, the thing need never talk to you either. You can be out the door by the time reasonable robot woman says, “please take your items.”

2. You do know what a bagging area is, right? It’s a pressure sensitive pad that lets the computer know where the item is. If you do everything simply, nothing should happen. If you take stuff out of the bagging area because you wanted to look at a pretty label again, that’s what triggers the now-famous admonishment. Computers are clever but they’re also dumb. You’re just as dumb if you don’t realise this.

3. Because computers are dumb, the “unexplained item” phrase will occasionally come up for seemingly no reason. Just shift the items around in the bagging area until it’s satisfied.

4. Don’t put things straight into the bags, especially if you’ve got a lot of items, as shifting multiple things around will inevitably trigger 3. Sort the bags out when you’re finished.

Seriously, what’s not to like?

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About klausjoynson
I'm a writer, editor, musician, DJ and cartoonist. Contact me at: klausjoynson(at)gmail.com or follow me on Twitter: @KlausJoynson

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