There was a time not so long ago when the self-checkout lanes were seldom used by anybody over the age of 40. If you didn't have a MySpace account growing up, you would never dare step foot in the self-checkout lane. Maybe it's because old people still just pay for everything with cash and it would take too long for grandma to pay her $63.51 for groceries with $1 bills and nickels. Maybe it's because old people are afraid of computers and they simply couldn't process the idea of the self-checkout. I don't know what is was, but it was glorious. Because you could head to any grocery store in America, and you'd never have to wait in line for any longer than 45 seconds before a self-checkout register was available to you.
But the times have changed, and it all gets traced back to COVID.
Grocery stores don't have as many cashiers working at a time. Fewer people are actually carrying around physical cash with them these days. Even the olds. And speaking of olds, they are trying to avoid as much physical interaction with other people as possible right now. All of this has boiled together and created a perfect storm for an insane overpopulation of the self-checkout lane.
You go to the grocery store now and the self-checkout line is completely wrapped around the corner, down aisle 5, up aisle 4, and tails off at the bakery section. And the issue isn't necessarily how many people are using the self-checkout, but its WHO is using the self-checkout. Because much like a traffic jam on a highway, it all starts with just a couple of jackasses who don't know what they are doing and that causes a ripple effect that fucks everybody else up.
Perhaps you have mom of 4 who decided to bring her two full carts of groceries through the self-checkout lane with her. Maybe it's the 75-year-old who is trying to insert his library card into the reader to pay for his Chock Full o'Nuts. You can walk down the line and easily pick out everybody who you know for a fact is going to have an issue with the self-checkout procedure. And considering we've been in this pandemic for damn near a full year at this point, enough is enough.
It's time to slap an age restriction on the self-checkout lane. I don't know exactly what that number should be. Personally I'd be happy with 50, but if you want to bump it up to 60 then that works too. I think if you were born before the company Apple was even founded, you are just naturally confused any time any sort of technology is presented to you.
Or if grocery chains are worried about getting slapped with an Ageism lawsuit, then at the very least we need to start capping how many items you can bring through a self-checkout kiosk. 12 items or less. Or actually, now that I'm thinking about it (and I literally just came up with this while I was writing the sentence so this is very stream of consciousness)…there should be a shot clock on the self-checkout. You get 150 seconds from the first item you swipe to the time when you insert your card to pay. If you don't get all of your groceries scanned and paid for in that 150 seconds, you have to pack it back up and head to a line with a cashier. That's actually the best way around this.
Speedruns. Strictly speedruns.