Place Your Item in The Bagging Area

by Lisa Scottoline

In these difficult times, it’s important to savor the victories.

And folks, we won!

What am I talking about?

That self-service checkouts are going to be scrapped at Walmart, Costco, and Wegmans.

We did it, gang!

We defeated Big Machine!

According to a news story I read, major chains are beginning to phase out self-service checkouts.

I’m declaring victory for all mankind.

Or at least people who never got the hang of self-checkout, like me.

There’s not a single time I’ve used self-checkout that I have not had to call over a cashier.

And believe me, I try to do it myself. I swipe my barcodes and look through twenty pictures of oranges to figure out the produce code for the ones I got, but it never works. And I get cranky, but try to hide it from the people in the line who are getting cranky but not trying to hide it.

They’re mad at me, and so am I.

Self-checkout breeds self-loathing.

Sometimes I avoid buying produce so I don’t have to look it up.

The day Bartlett pears grow barcodes, I’m in.

Plus I always wonder why we don’t just type in what we bought?

Like why give produce a number code when it already has a letter code, which is what we used to call a word.

After all, I can type ICEBERG before I can find 1928290.

Then nobody would have to remember anything.

But what do I know?

I’m just glad it’s over.

Goodbye to all that.

Because I always struggle with self-checkout, and in time I’ll give up and hit the REQUEST HELP button.


I wish life had a REQUEST HELP button.

I’d REQUEST HELP all day.

And then I wait for the cashier, always a ponytailed high-schooler trying to deal with middle-aged women who have plenty of agita but are dangerously low on estrogen.

Nowadays, I beat the system.

I hit REQUEST HELP as soon as I pull up.

It’s just more efficient.

I know I’ll need HELP, so why wait?

I eliminate the middle man.

Or the middle robot.

And then I slow-walk finding the code for broccoli rabe until the child cashier materializes and rattles it off.

This is why she has estrogen.

She needs to memorize produce codes.

Me, I have better things to do.

Netflix isn’t going to binge itself.

In the news story, it said that the stores are phasing out self-checkout because it has increased theft.

That’s surprises me.

If I’m going to shoplift, the shop is Cartier.

Tomatoes, I’ll pay for.

Reportedly, the reason they started self-checkout in the first place was because of Covid and also not everybody liked interacting with another person.

I don’t get that, either.

I love talking to people in stores.

My entire social life is Wegman’s.

At Costco, I hang out at the samples and pretend I’m at a cocktail party.

And the other day at CVS, I struck up a conversation with the guy at the self-checkout next to me.

I will not be defeated.

And neither will you.

We win!

Copyright Lisa Scottoline 2023