mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Why I hate (certain) technology...

I had a conversation yesterday with a computer. Specifically, with the self-checkout machine at the 41st SuperFresh supermarket.

Computer Voice: Please take your first item out of the bag and scan it
Mad Anthony: But I didn't put anything in the bag!
Computer Voice: Please wait for a customer service representative to assist you.Mad Anthony: But I don't need assistance. I just want to pay and go home!

Finally, the machine let me pay for my purchase - a pack of muffins and a Sunday Baltimore Sun - and leave.

I usually avoid self-checkout. I used to be a heavy coupon user, and I could never get the machines to take off all my coupons, and to not get the coupons jammed in the input slot. Lately, I've been going to Trader Joe's for most of my shopping. The good part of this is they don't have self-checkouts - instead, most of the checkout people are cute hippie chicks. On the negative side, the cute hippie chicks probably aren't impressed with the fact that my diet consists mostly of frozen chinese food and large buckets of cookies.

But if I'm just buying one or two things, I'll do the self-checkout. And I rarely leave happy - I always feel like I'm fighting with the machine.

Now, I'm a techie. I fix computers for a living. I've got more computers on my desk than most people have in their whole house. My remote control is smarter than most small children, my DVD Player has a PCMCIA slot and plays DIVX files, and I'm on my third iPod. I love gadgets and technology, but I can't stand self-checkouts. They never seem to work right, and they seem to complicate a simple transaction. If a nerd like me hates and generally avoids these things, I can't imagine that most average people like them.

After all, anything that makes me speak to an inatimate object in public can't be good. I mean, I talk to stuff in private all the time - I frequently curse at computers I'm fixing, and I've been known to talk to the TV on a regular basis, mostly to make sexually suggestive comments during Rachel Ray's show on the food network:

Rachel Ray (on TV): And now we will make a special sauce
Mad Anthony (to TV): Hey, baby, I'll give you some special sauce

But I don't generally talk to stuff in public. I feel pretty stupid when I do. But Superfresh's automated checkout just brings that out in me.


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