The store checkout is just 10 welcoming feet away, but before I can make it to shopper safety a white-uniformed female steps in front of me, raises a resolute left arm and commands I shift direction.
Okay, I’m not being pointed in the direction of the nit nurse’s office, but past experience with self-service checkouts has convinced me these machines were created to make technophobes like me seem even more gloriously inadequate.
Still, I attempt the purchase. I try to blip my bar code on the first bottle of Aussie shampoo (two for six quid) but the machine flashes a warning; I haven’t selected my payment method. Right. Done. I blip the shampoo. It registers. Great. But then the machine flashes a warning for me to bag my hair cleaner. But I don’t want to. I’ve already got a planet-saving plastic bag. I put the bottle to one side but the warning sign comes up again, and with it the heat levels in my brain. I’m now sweating. I try to blip Shampoo 2. Nothing. Another warning. By this time the shirt on my back is getting sticky.
The machine flashes its Help! sign. Do I surrender myself to a human employee or try to solve this crisis? I try again. No blip. I mutter a few blip words, before surrendering to the Help button – and who arrives but the lady in white. Transpires, I’ve placed Shampoo 1 in the wrong holding area. I feel the sweat on my forehead. I beg to use a human checkout, see a smiling face. But Nurse Ratchett, as obdurate as the machine technology, feigns deafness.
So she presses buttons – and nothing. Three times. Ha! My smug smile tells her I should have gone to the counter in the first place.
Counter assistants, you see, don’t blip. Indeed they very often smile. And rarely make you feel you have shampoo for brains.
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