In a few hours, this section of Ohio is due for a snowstorm that’s been moving east across the plains for a couple of days. Five to eight inches’ accumulation is what weather.com was showing earlier today. Never mind that it’s the last full week of March; as others have pointed out, the groundhog lied, or made a mistake, or perhaps was just rattled after a trip through a U-Scan-It station at the grocery store.
Yes, U Scan It, my name for the evil plot hatched by grocers, or their parent companies, or Satan, to have us by-pass the staffed checkout counters and scan our items ourselves. Oh, yippee, let me. I already pump my own gas and serve myself at cheap restaurants.
I hate the self-scanners with a passion. However, when one shops at 8:30 a.m. at my local store, clerks aren’t an option--unless you get into trouble with the scanners.
The storm is expected to affect us for two or three days. I could not imagine life without coffee, ice cream, chips, peanut butter, or certain paper products, so out I went. The beauty of shopping in the early morning is the absence of other customers. I had the aisles to myself, and they were well stocked; no one was stampeding to grab the last carton of pop or pound of hamburger.
The hazard of shopping early in the morning…well, I’ve already told you: no checkout people. The U Scan Its loomed ahead of me as the only choice, so I picked one. Of course, it started talking right away. “Welcome, valued customer!” That, I wouldn’t mind so much if the thing would then shut up.
The patient, condescending female voice instructed me as though I were a befuddled sixty-seven-year-old woman who couldn’t keep up. Oh. Never mind.
“Place the item in the bag. Scan your next item and place the item in the bag. Scan your next item and place the item in the bag. Scan…”
After the first three or four items, while I fantasized about putting my fist through the glass, a clerk with a hand scanner appeared beside my cart and began grabbing up my groceries. The self-scanners must have silent alarms, like banks. “You might have trouble with such a big order at this station,” she said. “You should have gone to that large station over there.” Too late now, girlie.
“Place the item in the bag and scan your next item.”
“Give me a minute,” I growled to the machine, and then I remembered the clerk. “I’m not talking to you,” I explained. “I’m talking to her.”
Sure enough, I ran out of space in the bagging area and the clerk had to move my groceries for me, as the U Scan It, being a vile instrument of the Devil, had gone wild when I put a full bag on the floor. Now the clerk was alternately scolding me and calling me Honey, like I was dim-witted.
I was glad to get home. Was the U Scan It experience worth it? Well, I have food and Kleenex and sweetener for the hard pioneer days ahead. So, yes. And I did not see a groundhog.