I have pointed out of few times on this blog that I am against self-check out lanes at retail and grocery stores. My first complaint is that I think they take jobs away from young kids who need to get work experience. For decades teenagers have held the respectful job of retail cashier. If the store has 6 self-checkout lanes, that is 5 teenagers who won’t be working there because they were replaced by a machine (one usually works the self check out lanes.) My second reason for boycotting the self-checkout lane is because I believe it damages our sense of community. I do not believe it is a good thing that we can sneak into the store with talking to a soul, shop and then sneak out to our car. Such behaviors:
I know some of you are reading this and saying Joe’s been smoking that funny, hippie stuff again but I wanted to offer this short story from my week to show how important small talk and chit chat can be in our communities. I was at the local grocery store and waiting in line at the deli. It seemed to be taking some extra time to get to the “next” number and I saw that the women next to me was getting irritated. I offered her a bit of empathy by saying, “it is slow in here today,” she smiled and we started to chit chat mostly about the deli being busy and why we thought is was so busy for a Friday afternoon when it should be dead. We eventually got our necessities and went on our separate shopping ways.
I then did my usual round of every isle to see what was on sale. I tend to save money by only buying things when they are on sale (and stocking up). I see no reason to pay full price for anything when I can by 2 or three extra when it is on sale.
As I made my way through the rows of confusing and sometimes misleading sale signs, I almost ran into another shopper’s cart. She laughed and smiled and joked that we must be on the same wave length to be going exactly the same place at the same time. I smiled back and enjoyed the momentary connection.
After finishing all my shopping, I noticed that almost every check out was packed, even the self-checkout lanes that I hate to use. I finally found an isle where both the woman from the deli and the woman I almost bumped into were, by chance checking out. We all began to chit chat the small talk people do in the line. I learned that the woman I almost ran into was named, “Rebbecca” and that she lived just two blocks from me. We exchanged thoughts an ideas about the neighborhood and she said she would look for me and Rick and the for the next time we walk the dogs in her neck of the woods. I enjoyed and felt inspired by the connections, the sense of community and the possible neighborly relationships that could be built from a short trip.
The real message here is that I believe we are growing out of touch with our neighbors. I believe there are many reasons for this, but one of them is those evil, pesky self-check out lanes. So next time you are at the stores, even if it means you will spend an extra 10 minutes, I beg of you to use to regular check out and meet your neighbors.
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"Be the change you wish to see in the world"
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"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
Martin Luther King Jr.
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