Itâ€™s a about a month since our local supermarket, Key Food, installed 4 self-service checkouts. Since then I havenâ€™t been tempted to use a human being once.
Itâ€™s remarkable really that we even go to Key Food. If Fresh Direct, our online alternative, werenâ€™t so damned expensive and wasteful with their packaging, I would have abandoned physical grocery shopping years ago.
But why? I was thinking about this yesterday and I came to the conclusion that it was a small minority of bad apples in society that cause my constant retreat from the public space. The same bad apples that Bloomberg blames for the tarnishing the cityâ€™s reputation perhaps.
Why do people have cars in New York? So they can escape at the weekend (a good reason), but also it’s to reduce the chances of being sat next to a dribbling pervert or a knife-wielding psychopath on the subway. Over-cautious to be sure, but I can understand it. When I am being loudly prayed at or elbowed in the ribs, I wonder why I didnâ€™t try a little harder at school, so I too could afford to drive around the place.
The first time I ever wanted a cell phone was in direct response to a bad apple. A bad apple of the English variety that is. I had finished work on a freezing cold evening and there were no buses. A young woman, about 22-years-old, and more than a little rough around the edges, made me stand out in the snow in sub-zero temperatures for an hour and half whilst she chatted idly to her boyfriend. I needed to make a 60-second call for a ride home, I asked her dozens of times, but she couldnâ€™t care less. She looked so savagely rough; I didnâ€™t dare press it in case she scratched my eyes out. It made me hate everyone and everything, and when you feel like that you look for ways to retreat from the world. A cell phone would take me away from the world of public pay phones forever and as soon as I could afford one I got one.
Excepting groceries and the odd piece of second-hand furniture, I buy everything online. I canâ€™t think of anything Iâ€™d want to do less on a weekend than waste my free time in shops. Places where I am (potentially) ignored, abused or harassed by sales staff. I even get annoyed at B and H photo, where they have the best service Iâ€™ve ever seen. It is either too busy for me, or the sales person doesnâ€™t quite get what I am asking and I become impatient wishing I was at home and could google my question instead.
So this brings me back to why I donâ€™t use the checkout staff at Key Food anymore. 9 times out of 10, they are perfectly nice, do their job, and sometimes even smile. But there is always that chance Iâ€™ll get someone in a bad mood, or with a bad attitude. Someone whoâ€™ll treat me like I am an idiot, or be incredibly rude to me. There is always a chance Iâ€™ll walk away from the checkout blinded with rage praying for a pestilence that will wipe out all of humanity. Why take that chance when I can serve myself? I may be contributing to the end of society, but I literally cannot help myself.