Originally published December 2005
Last night I used one of those automated self-checkout scanners at our local discount mart. While I was waiting for my receipt to print I heard this from behind me...
I turned around and noticed a woman with a condescending smirk on her face - as if she was the queen of the automated self-checkout scanner prom but I was just a freshman having my first-ever relationship with this thing in the back seat of my car.
"Huh?" I replied, as if I didn't quite hear her or understand what she was implying. Did she just ask me what I thought she asked me? And if she did, based on what? What could possibly have led her to the conclusion that I wasn't just as much of an expert at this thing as she was? After all, everything I had done to this point had gone flawlessly as far as I could tell.
I had walked up to the scanner and in one smooth continuous motion I swiped my item. "BEEP" - first try! Next I put it into the plastic bag so the machine would have the opportunity to weigh it without yelling
"ITEM NOT BAGGED - SKIP BAGGING?"Then WITHOUT even pushing the "Select Payment Type" icon (a shortcut that only the most seasoned scanner people would know) I slid out my credit card and swiped it through the credit card machine, even getting my magnetic stripe the right side down. Again, first try! Finally, all I had to do was wait for my receipt to print, grab it and run. All-in-all a very successful mission, and in less than a minute to boot.
And that's when I heard it. "First time?"
First time? What? Seriously? I was confused, and frankly a little paranoid. Maybe I had just made a critical gaff and was now standing there with the equivalent of my zipper open in the automated self-checkout community.
So, I turned back to the scanner station to grab my receipt and look for a clue as to why she thought so very little of me. And that's when I noticed.
That's when I noticed that instead of the receipt sticking out of the bottom of the printer in the chute labeled "Receipt Here," it was instead sticking out of the top of the printer, toward the back. And I had been standing there waiting for it to print when it actually had been printed the whole time.
Ahh, now it all made sense to me. What a fool was I - standing there for an extra 3 seconds looking for my receipt at the bottom when I should have been looking for it at the top. How could I have been so incredibly stupid! Now I understood why I was being so harshly judged by this woman - I DESERVED IT!
Sheepishly I pick up my receipt, turned back to her and confessed, "Ha, I was expecting it to come out at the bottom."
"I know," she said with an obvious satisfaction that she had unmasked my charade at being an expert self-scanner, "I did that my first time too."