Service: How We Miss Thee

Service: How We Miss Thee

Around the Bluhmin’ Town


Judy Bluhm

Have you ever seen someone have a meltdown at the self-checkout in a grocery store? It is not a pretty sight. I witnessed a lady lose it when she realized that the twenty-five items that she had scanned and bagged, showed up as a $1,875.00 charge. I thought murder was being committed when I heard the blood curdling scream that rang out so loudly in the store that suddenly four employees came running. Oh yeah, sometimes it is just good to stand back and watch the train wreck.

The bottom line was that the lady had about one hundred bucks’ worth of groceries. The bill was corrected. After much yelling, crying and gnashing of teeth. This is why the entire system of self-checkout is a massive insult and failure to the customers. Mistakes happen! But when we are forced to take everything out of the cart (with ridiculously limited space to place your items), scan, weigh, bag and then put everything back in the blessed cart, who does this benefit? Not the consumer!

Perhaps the lesson learned is that we need to carefully look at our receipts after shopping, which I admit I sometimes do not do. Besides the rip off of shrinkflation, now we have to do our own work. Even if you can find a checker, you will probably be bagging your groceries yourself. And if you use self-check-out, the hassle is immense, unless you have a few items.

But I digress, the lady who had a meltdown claimed that the grocery store was like a Mob Boss who was trying to steal from the very customers who keep them in business. She demanded to speak to a manager (one timidly arrived) and then she refused to scan “one more stinking thing” when the entire order was cancelled. The helpful manager told the lady that her debit card would be credited within 48 hours. Then another meltdown ensued when the lady screamed, “You are killing me.”

Okay, I am an observer of people. I have a degree in psychology. Everything I have learned about human behavior might be from watching folks in airports and grocery stores. I have witnessed couples arguing over organic versus “regular” vegetables and people confronting each other in aisles because they don’t move fast enough. But the self-check-out trend is bringing the devil out in some folks. Last week a guy in Phoenix took a hammer to a machine!

I did feel a bit sad for the good folks of Oregon, who are now (for the first time) forced to pump their own gas. Yep, the party is over. But I do have a dream. That one day I will pull into a gas station and a friendly attendant will fill my gas tank and even check my oil. And then I will drive to the grocery store where a cashier will scan all my groceries and then happily bag everything. And then I am asked the golden question, “Would you like help out to your car?”

Guess I better wake up from my delusion. Oh service, how we miss thee.

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local realtor. Contact Judy at [email protected] or at

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