I have decided there need to be self-checkout line rules because otherwise civilization will fall apart.

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Steve and I used to have an ongoing disagreement about the use of the self-checkout line at the grocery store. He would return from the Jewel and complain about the people too backward to use the machines or who had brought way too much stuff to the line to justify using it. I would defend these people, though, as a self-segregating population of people so desperate to avoid human interaction that they'd waste their own time using self-checkout instead of speeding things up by having to speak with a cashier and/or bagger. Plus, I argued, when they took up space in the self-checkout line, they clear up space in the regular checkout lines.

Steve has also complained lately that the increase of what he calls the "crazy people" at the grocery store has made shopping intolerable. We have a very loose definition of "crazy" around here that is not limited to a rude way of referring to people with mental issues. "Crazy," at the grocery store, can indeed mean mentally ill, but it can also apply to the elderly, the inconsiderate, the weird, the dumb and the slow. You can be a hot 18-year-old Northwestern student and still be a "crazy person" (probably by moseying down the aisle with a cart while scrolling on your smart phone and listening on your headphones, you dumbass. Get out of the way!)

Here in Chicago, a line of grocery stores called Dominick's has recently closed (many of which will open up as Whole Foods, which will inevitably result in a whole new unfortunate brand of crazy.) We lived right between one of the now-closed stores and its rival chain, Jewel, and the closure of the Dominick's has funnelled its old customers to the Jewel. Steve had a theory that the all crazy people shopped at Dominick's. I don't know if this theory was true or not--the Dominick's was closer to a few retirement and adult care homes, but it also encouraged loitering with its cafe and who knows, maybe the crazy people were just gaga about its beautiful floral selection. I didn't believe him: I figured he was just being impatient and intolerant. I typically shop, it should be noted, at absurdly early hours due to my inability to sleep in anymore. If you haven't grocery shopped at 8 AM on a Saturday morning, you haven't lived! Steve, meanwhile, would go at about 5 PM on a weekday, when everyone is heading home from work and crabby and tired. I figured it was bad timing.

I finally saw things his way though on Sunday when I went to the store at around noon and realized that, indeed, everyone at the grocery store was a crazy person. There was a shouting match between a customer and a manager going on the entire time I was in the process of checking out, and it was not about a price discrepancy or anything like that but regarding whether one of them had lied to the other.

Oh yeah, self-checkout. I have also changed my mind about this, based on this guy's cart:

cart.jpgI don't know if you can see this, but this man is buying at least 20 individual tiny bottles of beverages. First of all, from a purchasing point of view, this is insanity. Does this guy know how much money he is wasting by doing this and skipping the two-liter varieties and whatnot? That's like the people who buy a thousand tiny containers of yogurt. THEY SELL BIG CONTAINERS OF YOGURT.

But moreover, on a busy afternoon, this guy broke my anything-goes rule about self-checkout. And now I have several rules that I think should be applied to the line (which would only apply during busy times. During low times, do what you want:)

  • Skip the line if you have over twenty of one thing.
  • Skip the line if you are buying alcohol (it takes forever to get someone to come and verify your I.D.)
  • Skip the line if you have a ton of coupons.
  • Skip the line if your groceries pile up higher than the top of the cart.

Anyway, I am aware that by thinking this much about it, I am actually one of the crazy people myself (for instance, only thing keeping me from suggesting that you skip the line if you bring your own shopping bags, which confuse the weight sensors, is that I bring my own shopping bags.) Thus I eagerly await the opening of our new Mariano's, where I can take my crazy if need be.