Saturday, December 11, 2010

v2, d227: "An attendant has been notified to assist you!"

My wife likes to buy enough groceries for two or three weeks at a time.  As there are three of us, this generally means buying a lot of food.  Lately, it's also meant "Family Outing" as Kim isn't supposed to be doing too much stooping or lifting.  So somewhere in the last four months, I've started equating Kroger with Family Time. 

Obviously, with Robbie in Oklahoma and Kim on bed rest, Kroger is not Family Time right now, so going shopping for two weeks worth of food by myself was kinda lonely.  I decided to go after Kim went to bed (I ended up leaving home about 10:30 p.m.) so that it would be pretty empty and I wouldn't be maneuvering through crowded aisles.  On the whole, I think this was a good idea.  There were, as I count them, two drawbacks to this strategy: First, the generously-priced apple juice had all been bought by the earlier-than-11 p.m. Saturday shoppers.  Not a huge deal; the apple juice we usually get isn't really that much more expensive.  I mean, fifty cents is fifty cents.  It's not gonna break us (this month).  The more significant drawback is the fact that, in what I will assume is a cost-cutting measure, Kroger has decided to have zero human checkers after a certain hour (I'll assume it's 10?), meaning everybody has to use self-checkout.  Which is not, in and of itself, a bad thing.  HOWEVER, when you've got two weeks' worth of food for three people, self checkout will probably not get you out of the store very quickly.  Equally disheartening: there are only two self checkout lanes that can accommodate a grocery cart that is packed full of food, and one of them was broken.  This meant that I had to wait on the lady in front of me to scan her massive load before I could get to mine.  And she wasn't exactly Speedy Gonzales

Now, the self checkout is not flawless.  But it thinks it is.  It knows how much every item you scan weighs, and if the weight on the scale doesn't match what it thinks you've scanned, it decides the error is on your part.  Well, when you're looking at something like seventy items that barely fit on two scales, there may be some slight variation between net weight and what self checkout thinks your food should weigh.  So she'll ask you to put back whatever the heck it is she thinks you took off.  And when you can't (because you didn't take anything off the scale; the machine is just lacking in proper judgment because it's 11:30 p.m. on what has probably already been a long workday and the other checkout scanner isn't working so she's just a little on the tired side) she calls one of the attendants over.  (I keep referring to self checkout as a "she" because, well, she sure sounds like a she when she's busy making her demands)  She also shows you a picture of a friendly, smiling attendant so that you'll know what to look for.  And she also makes it sound like you're being given a great privilege, meeting with this friendly, smiling Kroger attendant. 

The attendant that comes to help you never looks like the attendant on the screen. 

Tonight's attendant was pretty helpful, though.  She started scanning so I could concentrate all my effort on bagging to try to speed things along.  Unfortunately, there were other customers at the non-huge-load self checkouts who were...struggling.  And one lady actually kept wandering around the self checkout area asking "Does anybody know what happened to the attendant?"  Even after the attendant said, "I'm right here, ma'am.  I'll be right with you."  I knew the attendant was just trying to get me out of there faster, but I knew I could also handle it on my own, albeit a bit slowly, while she could help the lost and the wandering.  However, she'd keyed in a special Attendant Code and couldn't turn it off until everything was scanned, so she was stuck helping me until we were done. 

We did finally finish, and she was finally free to go and attend the folks who really needed her attendance more than I did.  Self checkout asked if I had any coupons.  I had one, so I pushed the Coupon button, figuring it would ask me to scan the coupon and be done.  Instead?  "An attendant has been notified to assist you!" 


By the way, I don't know what that girl makes, but I hope she gets a raise soon.