Writers block: self-check put me in a pickle!

 A self-check machine at a local grocery store landed me into a peck of problems. It happened on the Friday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend. I debated whether even going inside when I saw the parking lot was filled with vehicles.

But I was out of fruits and veggies, so I walked in, grabbed a basket and made by way to the produce section, picking up carrots and celery. The section with shiny, green peppers caught my eye, and I thought I would splurge and get myself one. Just one, since my husband and son won’t eat them.

I greeted people I knew  in several of the crowded aisles, picking up the rest of the items on my list. Then I made my way to the front of the store. Long lines of shoppers with carts filled streamed back from each check-out. Even the self-check machines had a line, but not as long. I joined the line.

Typically I pick up a few items two or three times a week with just a basket. I can get it done faster, not having to deal with shopping carts with wheels that either squeak or get stuck and don’t want to roll smoothly.

I’m pretty good at scanning the bar codes on items, usually only having problems with greeting cards that are too light for the scanner to sense or clearance items marked down to a reduced price.

In those cases, I ask for help from whomever is working in the self-check area, hit “finish and pay,” slip my debit card through, grab my receipt and go on my merry way.

When I finally got my turn at the self-check on that busy Friday afternoon, I found the bar code on my items, even the bags of carrots and celery, but I wasn’t sure what to do with the green pepper that I had  put into one of those clear, plastic produce bags. When I got the attention of a busy employee, she said there should be an item number sticker somewhere on the pepper and to type it in. I found it,  typed in 406, finished up my scanning, slipped my debit card through, put the receipt in my wallet, tossed it in my purse and was happy to get out of that crowded store and on my way.

Once home, I put my purchases away and turned on the television to see how the different stations were covering the Jake Patterson sentencing. Then it was time to make supper, do dishes and finally relax with a library book.

It wasn’t until Saturday morning when my husband was entering Friday’s receipts into our checkbook that I found myself in big trouble!  The receipt showed I purchased 406 green peppers @ 1.49 each for a total of $604.94! Yikes! Our checking account had our tax refunds as a cushion, but I still had to get that straightened out pronto!

Nervously, I hurried to my credit union to see if they could put a hold on that transaction. I was told no. So I rushed to the grocery store’s service counter and showed the gal my one green pepper still in its bag and my receipt. She took off the cost of 405 peppers, credited my checking account and told me to have a nice day like it was common occurrence. When I asked the same, she affirmed that mistakes like that happen fairly frequently at the self-checks, but usually customers notice it while still at the store or parking lot.

It’s funny now to think of how I could have even  stacked 406 peppers into one grocery basket. That would’ve required some skill! But more than a laugh, I hope my story convinces shoppers to check their receipts—the sooner, the better! Like them or not, self-check machines are here to stay and expanding their presence every day in every area of our lives.

First we pumped our own gas and paid at the pump. Then we got used to automated banking, online education, self-check-in at local clinics. Self-check at fast-food restaurants is coming, like  the new machines at McDonalds in Barron; and don’t be surprised to see self-check of books at the local library now undergoing remodeling. Ready or not, the do-it-yourself age is crashing down upon consumers. A peck of peppers almost wiped out our checking account. Don’t let the self-check outs make a pickle out of you!

(Copyright © 2019 APG Media)

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