I hate self-service tills as a rule. They are slow, inflexible, too loud and weirdly passive-aggressive. Naked contempt of the general public dressed up as dashing convenience and faddish techno-wizardry. Even if they are empty, I will still prefer to huddle together with the proles lugging heavy trolleys, despite the insistence of the person paid to get people to use the self-service tills who prowls the queues. The person who, along with the other sap who is paid full-time to sort out the problems with the self-service tills, really makes you wonder where the savings are to be had.
The exception that proves my rule is the mini-Sainsbury’s just up the road from the office where I go once or twice a week to buy my lunch (the chicken triple in the Sainsbury’s meal deal is the last bastion of the tremendous era of three-in-a-pack) where the staff are so atrociously inept – staring at you from behind the till while they buff their nails, or stubbornly carrying on conversations with each other in the teensy aisles – that the rude, impersonal treatment of a self-service machine is easier to take than the rude, impersonal treatment of the people paid to work there.
It’s all a fairly logical extension of where we’ve been headed these last few years – Tesco might have discovered recently that it can force you to scan your own shopping where they would normally pay someone to do it, but Ikea has been making you find stuff in the warehouse for years. And I still can’t for the life of me understand the virtue of restaurants like Nando’s or GBK where they essentially send you in to the kitchen to sort your order out with the grill chef. Nando’s is a whole post for another day, an abomination on the food landscape that invariably leaves me traumatised with the effort of trying to understand how the whole thing works.
What I really object to most with self-service tills is that I’m doing someone’s work for them and still paying the same price as people who go for the valet-parked groceries. I really ought to be getting at least minimum wage for scanning through all this crap.
Marf on the debates
4 hours ago