April 21, 2024

Sunday Evening.

We wrapped up our evening by going for a stroll off the Broadway Trailhead, the same place I started and ended my hike yesterday. We both enjoyed the two mile walk beyond the Mica View Picnic Area and back. It was very relaxing and the sunset was beautiful.

Self Checkout.

“Self Checkouts are awesome!”

We’ve been hearing this from retailers for well over a decade. The epitome of customer convenience, by making the customer do the work of a dedicated store employee, customers can fly through the checkout experience and exit the store faster than OJ can fly through an airport to a car rental company counter. I know, he’s dead now.

In reality, eliminating store employees and having all the customer do the checkout work, retailers thought they’d save tons and tons of money. Somewhere at this moment there’s a big box corporation CEO rolling in their millions of parachute money before Jeff Bezos takes it all away.

Except, here’s the thing. No one wagered on the amount of theft that would occur in the self checkout process. Intentional or not, retailers are losing more money than they anticipated and they are subsequently starting to see the hit to their soaring profits.

This does not amuse the stockholders.

Personally, I never had a problem with self checkouts until they started completely removing the manned checkout lanes altogether. Our local Walmart store did this, for the most part. The customer service counter has been relocated to a legacy-style checkout, and four of the original 30 checkout lanes remain; the rest have all been converted into a corral of self checkouts, where folks can mingle in very close quarters with very large carts and do things like exchange body gases and other COVID-19 transport mechanisms.

We live in such wonderful times.

The Walmart in question robbed their store greeter position to install a receipt checking sentry at the door, but I have always bypassed that person at this particular store. “Sir, I need to see your receipt!”

On the few occasions I have actually heard this I have countered with, “I’m not an employee, no need to check my work”! I then wave my receipt in the air. It might be a car wash receipt or a Starbucks receipt or even something from a Kmart back in 1998. As long it’s printed on chemically dangerous thermal printer that’s going to fade in the Arizona sun within the next couple of months, I don’t think they really care. I’ve been on camera the whole time. They saw me give them a one star rating at the end of the transaction. They shouldn’t ask for my opinion.

Target has been removing self-checkout lanes in their more theft-prone areas because they’re losing too much money and that makes the folks in Minneapolis nervous. Our store hasn’t removed their self checkout corral, but now we’re limited to the number of items we can bring into the corral. Their self checkouts have been converted to “10 items or fewer”.

Luckily, Target still has a dozen or so traditional lanes and usually two or three of them are actually manned.

Here’s a fun tangent. In the very early 1990s I worked for Hills Department Store. I have come to realize that apparently I was one of the few cashiers not stoned at any given time, and that’s probably why they always put me on the express lane. This was before the chain had adopted scanning and we were still keying in the Dept/SKU/Price on every item. The IBM 4683 cash registers felt kind of cheap when compared to the original system from the late 1970s (NCR 255s) but they worked and I could move quickly, even on register 16, which was at the very end of the network loop.

During the Christmas rush, this Hills store would open 15 out of the 16 checkouts and even process regular sales at the nearby jewelry counter. Why 15 out of 16 and not all 16? Because register five was reserved for “administrative duties” by a usually sassy woman named Trish who was dubbed “head cashier”. I really liked Trish, she was a lot of fun. And she could watch everything we were doing, keystroke by keystroke, from register five. The monitoring software has been there for well over 30 years; even the old NCR 255s from the 1970s could monitor the keystrokes of any cash register at any given time.

So I don’t know why I’m suppose to show my receipt to the less than friendly “exiter” at Walmart.

I’m wondering how long it will be before the local Target removes the self checkouts completely. They’re already locking things up like toilet paper and band aids. It’s only a matter of time.

Sunday Morning.

I had a nice stroll around the property this morning. I went for a walk around the neighborhood, well sheltered by the sun, and the exercise was good. By the time I got home I was quite sweaty, even more than when I go hiking on Saturdays.

It was well worth the sweat.

The pomegranate tree is showing its first sign of this year’s crop.
The backyard from our patio. The clouds were enchanting, as was the wind.
A smattering of color.