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“What Aggravates Me!” by Comedian John Knight


Wednesday afternoon I stopped by my local Giant Eagle to pick up a few items that we needed for dinner. It was a routine I had done hundreds of times before so I really wasn’t expecting anything unusual. Since I only needed a few things I picked up a shopping basket and began to make my rounds.

Once I had what I needed I headed over to the checkout area. Since I only had a few things I went to the fifteen items or less self-checkout lane. It was the shortest line, probably because most people are either too lazy or too stupid and unable to navigate self-checkout. That’s when things began to feel different. There was something ominous that I couldn’t quite figure out.

Everything was normal as I began. I received the instructions from the machine, “Scan your Giant Eagle Card to get started.” I did as I was told.
“Your Giant Eagle Card has been accepted.” It was when I scanned my first item that all hell broke loose. I had no sooner run my item over the scanner when the machine barked out an order. “PLACE YOUR ITEM IN THE BAGGING AREA!”

I had been given these instructions before but always in a gentle polite voice. I think it even said please. I don’t remember if it did say please but at this moment I’m thinking it did. All I know is the machine never spoke to me this way before. This was an outright command.
I began to think maybe I heard it wrong as I scanned my second item. Then once again, “PLACE YOUR ITEM IN THE BAGGING AREA!”

My wife doesn’t speak to me like that when I piss her off. This was ridiculous.

Could it be this machine was broken? Maybe something went haywire in the voice prompt mechanism. I didn’t think it was intentional. It couldn’t be, could it? I have enough problems without being yelled at by a machine.

That’s when I heard the small child scream in terror at the checkout station across from me. I looked over and saw an elderly women in the corner, shaking uncontrollably as she wept. Out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of the man at the machine behind me.

He had a shaved head, bushy beard and was heavily tattooed and was having none of it as the machine barked out its orders, “PLACE YOUR ITEM IN THE BAGGING AREA!”

He was just laughing as he waved his package of Oscar Mayer Bologna over the bag.  “PLACE YOUR ITEM IN THE BAGGING AREA!”

He just kept laughing and waving his bologna. I was enjoying watching him and then it happened. “THIS IS THE LAST TIME I’M TELLING YOU DAMMIT!”

I saw all the blood rush from his face as he humbly lowered his package into the bag. It was a sad sight. This once proud man who had been dangling his baloney in defiance only moments ago, was now just a quivering bundle of nerves.

Walking out of the store I wondered what I had just witnessed. Were the machines out of whack or was this some corporate decision to better train us how to handle our groceries? The thing is, once you’ve scanned the item it’s on your bill, you’re paying for it. Who gives a damn what you do with it? If you want to shove your bologna down the front of your pants you should have that right. You own it after all.

As I drove away I thought about how far technology had evolved during my lifetime and not always for the better. That’s when I made the decision to stop using self-checkout for now on. This way I can be treated rudely by a human and not a machine.

Follow John on Twitter @jknight841

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