Sunday, September 05, 2010

Sorry, this thing does what again?

Technology is changing our worlds rapidly, and often in ways we aren't able to keep up with.

I was reminded of this at my local grocery store / dry cleaner / post office/ portrait studio /clothing store / pharmacy / gym / medical clinic conglomerate a couple of weeks ago. (They're really going for one-stop shopping, folks.) It's got a big bank of checkouts, but it also has 8 self-scan checkouts. I always use these, partly because the checkout process is so damned boring I'd rather be doing it myself.

As I waited my turn, I noticed a woman in front of me. She was about my age or a little older - but not much. I watched as she took item after item out of her cart and randomly rolled it around on the scanner, over and over, until the scanner went "beep!", and then put the item in a bag.

After a minute I realized something: she had no idea she was supposed to be looking for a bar code to scan. She was just rolling items around until something beeped.

How could somebody use a self-scan checkout and have no idea what it is supposed to scan?

Technology had offered her a new option, and she was using it without understanding it at all.

I bet we do that a lot these days. Wonder what I'm using wrong.

ronnie

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3 Comments:

Blogger Mike said...

That's actually wonderful -- that she doesn't understand it in the least but is willing to give it a go. By contrast, there is never a line at the self-scanner in the only grocery store here (of a half dozen) that offers it. And I have driven right up to the ATM at the bank while there was a line of four cars at the teller window.

Mind you, I like the self-scan at the grocery store because it drives me nuts to be behind the person who waits until the last item has been rung up before beginning to fill out the check. What? Did you think they might change the name of the store during that process? Did you think today's date was going to be based on the final total?

(I think it's best for all if I just go to the self-scan line.)

8:34 PM  
Blogger Brian Fies said...

It is amazing how slow check-writing seems, even when done with dispatch, once you've gotten used to swiping the plastic card.

I reflected for a while on my life and couldn't think of anything I was using wrong in the way you mean. But there's an increasing lot I don't understand--a while back I blogged about how sad I was that I didn't understand how my toilet works anymore. It's just another sealed plastic black box, not too different from the sealed plastic black box under the hood of my car or inside my TV.

12:29 PM  
Blogger Brent McKee said...

Simple answer: she doesn't need to know what she's supposed to be scanning. All she really needs to know is that when the machine beeps the price has been entered. She can be totally oblivious, just as long as she hears that beep for each item she's buying.

10:28 PM  

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