Grocery Protest

Everyone needs to have a cause. You need to have something to care about, otherwise you’re just dragging your feet until the almighty White-Out of mortality nullifies your existence. Politics are exhausting. It’s undeniably important but doing anything of note is right next to impossible. In order to make it a little more manageable, they say “think globally, act locally.”

And that’s why I scam the self-checkout at the grocery store. Every single time.

I like to think my moral compass has the needle pointing pretty much due north. As I’ve discussed before, it’s why I’m so full of unquenchable rage. However, the self-checkout not only begs for shenanigans, it demands it.

At first, I was a huge proponent of these things. I don’t have to take my ear buds out, the lines are generally short, and it removes the unfortunate possibility of speaking with a fellow human being. Some people raised concerns that the self-checkout could lead to people losing their jobs, but I always shrugged that off. Nah, I’d say, these kiosks will only supplement the other checkout lanes in the store. Who doesn’t like being pampered like royalty? And what’s more king-like than having someone you don’t know safely tuck away your toilet paper and Fruit Loops? The only way it could be more intimate would be if they brought it straight to your house and slid the box of cereal into the cupboard as you remained on the couch in your underwear.

But of course, if a businessman realized that covering baby carriages with hypodermic needles could somehow save them seven cents in a fiscal quarter, the playgrounds would be filled with children with what looked to be bleeding chicken pox. All this to say, grocery stores rarely activate more than 20% of their checkout lanes.

Now we have to deal with the singular person in charge of eight self-checkout kiosks. When they’re not frantically punching in the SKU for celery before checking someone’s ID to buy wine before voiding an erroneous stick of deodorant, they’re off somewhere else, presumably cracking jokes to the security guard while counting down the days until their position gets eliminated, too.

All of this is to feed the machine of the grocery store. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t dislike grocery stores. They’re amazing little hubs that feed entire neighborhoods. I object to the eternal need for progress that comes at the expense of the shopping experience.

This idea didn’t fully hit me until a few weeks ago when I actually planned to go through a normal checkout lane. My back fell apart weeks prior making it difficult to put on my socks, so I figured I might as well embrace the fact that I’m a rickety old bitch and I brought coupons with me to the store. Coupons need an extra layer of checkout skill that is beyond my non-existent training. However, when I got to the front, no lanes were open.

That’s right, nobody was running a cash register. Only the self-checkout lanes were open.

I continued with the idea of being a rickety old bitch and I voiced my shitty opinion to the singular person working the self-checkout lanes as she scanned in my coupons. She didn’t like what I had to say and now it’s awkward every time I see her on my near-daily trips to the store. It feels like we broke up or something and I need her to quit her job.

Bill Burr has a routine about this subject and his argument is basically, “I don’t work here. Why am I doing the work?” I never fully agreed because it was a choice. I could go to the regular lane but I’m antisocial so I gotta scan my own yogurt. Fair trade. But now it wasn’t a choice and I felt his words coming out of my mouth.

So this is why I don’t give a shit about scamming the self-checkout lane every time I go to the store. My scam has been running longer than the no-cashier incident, but the idea was always the same. The prices don’t change when I ring my groceries up myself. That means the store is making more money per item because it eliminates the labor. I take that labor upon myself with no reward except for the fact I can ring up all the organic groceries at pesticide-filled prices. Orange and red peppers are more expensive than green peppers? Not for me. Not that it’ll ever happen, but if an employee were to notice I left the first 9 off of the SKU (that’s the only difference, by the way. You just leave that 9 off of there and everything is cheaper) I can just say “Oh really? I thought I was doing it right, but you see, I was never trained on how to do this so I’m just trying my best.” And then they’ll shrug and go back to playing Candy Crush.

That, by the way, is the extent to which I scam the self-checkout. I don’t ever just not ring stuff in because that would be stealing. However, ringing up my items at a cheaper price is perfectly acceptable. I like to think of it as an employee discount. Sure, I won’t get a W-2 from them in January, but I’ve put in my fair share of work.