When I was in my teens, heaps of my friends got jobs as check out chicks when they were about 15. They were employed by a small chain which was notorious for hiring 15 year olds at very low pay and then scaling down their shifts as soon as they turned 17 and were required to be paid higher rates by law.
I was busy with my own menial drudgery at that point, and it wasn't until later that I applied for positions in retail, but alas, never made the grade.
And thus, until last week, was never presented with the opportunity to scan groceries. Picture this. It was a very crowded supermarket and the queues were long. I noticed that the area in the middle of the check outs was empty. It was the Self-Scan area, which I'd always avoided on the grounds that it looked too hard, but suddenly, filled with bravado and the desire to avoid waiting in line, I decided I could do it. How hard could it be?
I pulled up with my full trolley and began scanning and swiping. I warmed up with a few basics and then decided to go for the old triple swoop - you know, when you have 3 cans of tuna and you swipe one 3 times? The machine wasn't having that. In a loud bossy voice, it Ordered Me To Place the Item In the Bag And Continue Scanning. I couldn't believe it was watching me. How did it know?
Things continued much in this vein; the machine got cross when I had more than 3 bags and hadn't finished, the assistant (human) had to come over and intervene a few times, a certain customer behind me kept trying to grab the station each time I put some bags in my trolley (honestly, how many times do I have to exclaim "No! I'm not finished!"?).
I'm not joking, I think it took me 20 minutes to scan and load 5 bags of groceries. And I didn't even get to read about Britney Spears while I waited.