Saturday, May 15, 2010

Walmart Today

Today I went to Walmart. It is like going into an enclosed third world country. You wonder how the employees and customers that you see can have any need for any of the products in the store since they all look like animals. Why would an animal need clothes and plastic and cookies and soda and couch cushions. In an effort to make your stay even more unendurable they have installed "self" checkout. "Self" checkout means you need you and three other employees to check you out because self checkout is not a one man operation. It is a continual, ongoing slow-down process that would drive Shirley-Temple-as-a-child to destroy the machinery with an ax and then steal all the items she spent 2 hours trying futiley to pay for. A droning idiot voice comes out of the mechanism ordering you to do things while you are trying to read the instructions. The lag-time between you obeying the order and the machine coming out of it's perennial stupor to realize you have obeyed is so long you assume that the first time you obeyed it didnt register or "take" and so you do it again and the machine bogs down into "tilt" mode and you are left standing there helpless. In order to help you a human cashier on a normal checkstand halts operations in her own line to come over and with total calmness help you. Meanwhile everyone in HER line is now pissed at YOU and so are - of course - the people in your own line who you are also holding up. Cecily likes to go to the self checkout because there is never anyone there in line. All the human cashiers have a backup into the next nearest Walmart. Cecily naturally assumes that going to the self checkout will be faster. She never remembers that the reason the self checkout stands are always empty is because the mutants shopping there know that they dont function. The Mutants know this because they go to Walmart ten times a day. They have learned. Even a dead howler monkey can learn if it does the same things enough times. But Cecily goes to Walmart once every two months. So she forgets. But I don't. I'm Italian. We remember aggravations real clear and forever. Hey, maybe it's a character flaw in the whole tribe maybe it ain't, I dunno. I just know it's there. So I tell her - usually just once - "The line with the cashier is long because self-checkout is impossible to operate." This is not a good argument to a woman making a checkstand decision. A woman will get in a line and then if the line 300 checkstands down looks like it has one less person in it than the line she is in she will leave that line and go all the way down to the other line. She'll do this for hours if the conditions are right. Very often - most of the time - this backfires even before the trip is completed: someone else will get into that line. Then she is stuck en route, like a trapped base runner. Usually i let her go ahead, off on her journey to a different line, alone. I stay with the cart. Once she arrives she will wave - ten lines away - for me to join her, with a gleefull expression "LOOK I'M IN A SHORTER LINE COME DOWN HERE!!!" cutting through 100 backed-up lines is a lot easier as a pedestrian without a cart than it is with a cart. And I am the one who has the cart. I usually just look at her, far far away and scowl. After a while her expression changes from glee to anger. CEcily does not handle her own anger well. It makes her ill for days. She thinks anger is bad. It doesn't even have to be her own. I can get mad at a fly and Cecily will be upset for days. Not for the fly's lost life but for the anger I brought to its death. You would think the fly's relatives would be the proper recipients of the upset. But that ain't the way it is. So I will usually then leave the line with the cart and have to fucking make a ton of new enemies of people i ain't even remotely interested in making enemies of to wade down to the new line. Invariably that line will have the slowest cashier on earth. I can scan a thousand checkstands in an instant and see immediately who the good cashiers are and who the bad ones are even in a store I aint never been in before. To everyone else who shops this is never an issue. To everyone else all checkers are identical in all respects. Most people are dull-witted zombies who are 200 pounds overweight.
So we're at the self-checkout. I never get involved. I become very passive at the Walmart self-checkout. I know instinctively that it is a hopeless mess to be avoided. It's just too stupid an apparatus. It THINKS it knows what you are doing. It doesn't.
It thinks that you have stolen something if you dont place it exactly where it tells you. But it has no conception of room. If you obey it you will have product cascading onto the floor in three seconds because checking out shit involves a lot of movement and decision making and putting it WHEREVER YOU FUCKING WANT TO PUT IT after it has been scanned. But once it's scanned the robot women voice wants you to put it on this spot right here. Then it wants you to put the next thing on that same spot. Without moving the first thing. It is way beyond nuts. It's Congressional Level nuts. It's Tax Code nuts. It's Jury Duty nuts. If an item wont scan - most of them dont because customers destroy things the help would at least make some effort to avoid destroying if they had to operate it 8 hours a day. Customers dont give a shit if they break it for the next guy in line, that's his problem. If an item won't scan you have a problem. You have to hold onto it. You can't set it down somewhere, the machine knows. It wants the thing you are scanning to get scanned before it will allow you to pick something else off the belt and scan it. By this time you have a line yourself because the more stupid customers see you at the automatic checkout and assume it works. It doesn't. That's why they are always empty until a novice reetard shows up to use it. Then the Monkey Reflex kicks in on other people and they drift on over behind you. And of course they get pissed at you standing there holding an object in a frozen paralysis and doing nothing with it. Because if you do something with it - like put it onto the fucking floor - when it refused to scan... the machine scolds you. "PLEASE SCAN THE ITEM." "PLEASE SCAN THE ITEM." "PLEASE SCAN THE ITEM." Scanning involves a precise motion. If you fuck up and scan the same thing just paid double for it. People always assume for some reason that the machine will know that you fucked up. The machine doesn't know shit. It just knows how to add and add and relentlessly add. It does not know how to subtract. You have to INSTRUCT it to subtract. This usually involves a cashier to override the system. And you are at self-checkout. YOU are the cashier. Walmart want the customer to do all the work so that it doesnt have to pay employees. Getting employees to work for nothing involves lawsuits and fines. Getting you to work for nothing involves only profit. You become an unpaid slave of Walmart. In order to save some time. But you lose even more time using self-checkout. So you are not only a slave you are a stupid one. We were in there on a slow day at a slow time and there were only about 300 people in the place. Only two of them were white. The two stupidest ones.


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