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October 16th, 2018

self checkouts

man, if you want to start a fierce facebook debate, bring up self-checkouts at grocery stores!

I use them. I admit they are not perfect. It is stupid how much they want to yell at you for "stealing" when you're obviously right there trying to check out. As my husband once said looking around, "If I wanted to steal from this place, I'd steal from this place." I am sure they were programmed by someone who hates technology and doesn't trust it and just dreams up worst-case scenarios that some poor IT guy has to jump through just to get his project done.

I like how I can go to a store at oh-dark-thirty in the morning with a pocket full of spare change and shove pennies at it until I've paid for my peanut butter cups. I wouldn't do that to a human cashier, they would roll their eyes at me and not want to count all that change, and they'd be in the right.

Let's get to my real rant though - old people on facebook who say we should not use self-checkout because JOBS. Robots TAKING human JOBS! Don't you care about the poor cashiers getting tossed out on the street because they've been made obsolete by technology?

What a strange argument. I have not heard any news interviews about people who wanted to be cashiers but could not because grocery stores are hiring fewer workers. They still need people to monitor the machines. They've never hired enough cashiers to make my checkout experience queue-free... if they're going to have just 2-3 working at a time, why not have one of them monitor a self-checkout with six stations so I don't have to wait? Same number of employed people, less waiting.

And even if they weren't hiring cashiers... well, jobs go obsolete! When I get into facebook debates with these people I ask them about other obsolete jobs they could feel bad about...

- when you want to find a business' contact information do you call information, or just google it?
- to type this facebook status, did you hire a typing pool?
- did you request an elevator operator, or hit the 9th floor button yourself?

These are all things people used to do, but with a little technology help, the jobs went away and now we are all "burdened" with doing these jobs "ourselves" - but I'm not sure we'd go back. And we don't feel bad. If the self-checkouts keep improving, why should I just stand and stare off into space while a human person does my scanning for me? I'm just standing there bored, it's not like this costs me time.

At the end of the day we have to ask ourselves how to move the world FORWARD, and clinging to the past is never the solution to that. Humans will always be needed. The biggest tech companies in the world employ hundreds of thousands of people - tech companies! If robots could replace us, they'd figure it out, right? So if you're worried about cashiers, look for ways to find people jobs where their human talents are put to worthy use - aka jobs that we can't program a computer to do. Fight for higher wages. Fight for efficiencies to make our lives easier, so we can work fewer hours a week and still have what we need.

Trying to freeze the world because the touchscreen is glitchy is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. There's a real enemy here but technology is not it.

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