Monday, June 23, 2008

Weekend Update: Of Mice and Men

I'm at Waldbaums in Long Beach with Larry. We're picking through the fresh corn pile when Larry suddenly jumps away.

"What is it?"
"There's something in there."
"What is it?"
"I don't know. Something furry."

At this point, I'm thinking he's just overreacting and that "fur" is just the tip of the corn husks (see below)



"Are you sure, Larry? Maybe it's just the tip of the husk?"
"No, I know fur when I see it."

I peer in, but see nothing. It doesn't take long for a small crowd of nosey "Long Guyland" shoppers to gather.

"Whaaaat is it?"
"Is it aloive?"

As Larry is reenacting the traumatic event, I peer in closer and see the tiny paw of a dead field mouse. The imposing stock man shows up to find out what's wrong.

"Is there something in there?" he asks.

"Yes." says the crowd.

He quickly takes away the offending carton to a back room, where they will no doubt remove the mouse and replace the carton after the crowd has left.

We gather more corn, not wanting to miss out on the 4 for $1 sale, but decide that we'll shuck it later, when we get home.

At the self-checkout, we scan our items. Anyone who has used these machines before is familiar with the produce procedure. You place your items on the scale, then use the touch screen to find your item. You might type in T for tomatoes, then press the image of the correct tomatoes. When done correctly, you'll hear the fragmented robotic voice of the future:

"Move your...tomatoes...to the belt."

The system is designed so that even the dumbest people can achieve independence from the tyranny of the human cashier, although it's still far too complicated for 95% of the population who are still working up "calculator" status.

Of course, not even this goes well, as the machine doesn't know the difference between overpriced, pre-packaged corn, and corn that people have shucked themselves to save a few bucks.

Larry's presses the HELP button on the screen to summon the attendant. After an eternity of sighing and eye-rolling, she arrives to dial in a secret numeric code.

"Move your...corn...to the belt."

I pack the 20 ears of corn into shopping bags, where they easily pierce holes in the thin plastic. You know, if retailers made stronger plastic bags, we wouldn't have to triple them. Just saying...

In the parking lot, Larry tells me that we got 21 ears of corn for the price of 20. This is where the laziness of today's cashier attendant comes in handy. Larry correctly assumed that she would ask the quantity, instead of counting them herself. This is delayed revenge for the last time a lazy cashier attendant pissed us off.

"Did you hear what the machine said when she scanned the corn?" I ask Larry.
"No, what?"

"Move your...field mice...to the belt."

1 comment:

cb said...

I gotta say, I LOVE the self-checkout lanes. Less human interaction, and MUCH faster!

I have it down to a science. I even have produce codes memorized!