My favorite retail innovation of the last 40 years is self-checkout. It’s the quickest, most secure way to pay for all of my items. There are the occasional snafus when the machine thinks I put an item into the bagging area without paying for it. That’s okay though because I always pay for my items and I would never do something like that. After all, that would be stealing and I don’t steal.
Thieves steal and I’m an honest person who loves to shop and when I’m done shopping I use self-checkout to pay for all of my items.
I would never place an item in the bagging area without scanning it. Even if I wave it over the barcode reader and it doesn’t read, I would never place it in the bagging area or my pocket. I would simply ask for assistance, wait my turn as other honest patrons are served, and then explain to the worker that the baby formula says it’s twice as much as it used to be and there must be some kind of mistake.
It’s the right thing to do.
Trust me, I would never steal from a multinational retailer like Target or Walmart with thousands upon thousands of stores across the United States who set up shop in every town with the intention of driving local business to the ground by lowering prices that mom and pop shops could never compete with and then raising prices of the goods when all the competitors go under so people in town have no choice but to take a job there to afford anything and barely get paid a living wage. A person who steals from upstanding corporations like that oughta be punished!
Don’t these people follow the eight commandment?!
When I go to Home Depot or Lowes, I never fill a large Rubbermaid container to the brim with other items and then only ring up the container when I’m at self-checkout and quickly exit the store before they can check inside. That would be downright wrong. And I wouldn’t even think of weighing an item like a prime rib or a filet and telling the machine it’s a bag of apples. It’s dishonest. The self-checkout machine is just trying to help me and if I lie to it then how can the machine trust any of us?
The unfortunate answer is: it can’t.
That’s why I personally love that self-checkout allows me to demonstrate my honesty to the surveillance camera that towers above me with the warm greeting “MONITORING IN PROGRESS.” When I see the cameras taking a detailed record of my face that will be logged into a massive data storage facility every time I’m ringing up tortilla chips, I feel more secure that the profits of these corporations who employ all my impoverished friends and family are protected and I feel no sense of obligation to get even with them by stealing. If they didn’t take those NSA-level precautions, imagine the kind of world we’d live in where basic necessities were free and people wouldn’t have to steal to feed their family. That would be terrible!
I actually read somewhere that these corporations won’t even stop thieves from stealing but will track them until they’ve stolen a felony amount of merchandise—which is a thousand dollars by the way. That means you, me, or literally anyone could take as much as we wanted without paying the consequences as long as we kept it below that amount. I could leave my house right now and steal $999 in “Fast & Furious 1-9” blu rays and drive home leisurely and happily, a free man. I could even go as far as to sell them on the internet—it would be all profit. Classified information like that just makes me lose faith in humanity and serves no one in need of extra money in these desperate financial times who might not have heard of that loophole.
When I read “The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood” by Howard Pyle I secretly wished Robin Hood’s adventures took place in contemporary America where someone with their iPhone could film Robin Hood stealing and follow him to his car scolding him for what he’s doing. I wish they’d take a photo of Robin Hood’s license plate number and send it to The Sheriff of Nottingham so they could lock his punk ass up! Excuse my profanity, I just get really upset when I see injustice in the world.
Whenever there’s a riot that started as a peaceful protest on the local news and I see a major retailer get looted and burned to the ground by hooded figures in paramilitary gear and police-issued body armor, I can’t help but shed tears for the executive team of that company. Why would those anonymous arsonist thieves do such a thing to our finest, hard working CEOs? I see no correlation between police brutality and the growing presence of the surveillance state in retail spaces whatsoever.
That’s why I’m always so relieved to hear news of them breaking ground on an even larger store with even greater security measures to replace it in the days following the horrific incident! Then honest people can return to scanning all their products at self-checkout, tipping their cap or curtsying to the security cameras, putting the products in a bag that says “Have A Nice Day,” having their bag searched by a worker at the door who checks everything against the receipt, and having a nice day.
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Robert Criss is a writer from Pittsburgh who writes to save the family farm. You can find his work right above this biography or below depending on where this biography is placed on the page in relation to the work. Follow his instagram @robertcriss