An Open Letter to the Self-Checkout

An Open Letter to the Self-Checkout


Dear Self-Checkout,

It’s been a while since we’ve seen each other, but I want you to know that I’m still thinking about you. I’ve been looking for you everywhere since I moved down to Florida, yet you still elude me. Do you know what this means, self-checkout? I’ll tell you what it means. It means that I’m forced to make small talk with the shiny, happy cashier who asks me how my Thursday is going. Well, considering that I’m at Publix at 2 in the afternoon, buying cheese danishes and frozen shrimp…it’s going pretty damn fine, “Joey.” Thanks for asking!

It also means that I have to buy a random bunch of bananas, or some granola, or something with soy in it to offset the frozen White Castle burgers and Haagen-Dazs that are slowly rolling down that conveyer belt and making both of us cringe. I don’t care what anyone says, cashiers judge. Like that time I tried to subtly sneak some earplugs into my makeup and nail polish purchase at CVS, because I was going to a show that night and am already half-deaf in my left ear from my scenester days of yore. “Earplugs?!” the large, sassy woman at the counter laughed in my face. “Yep,” I replied. I didn’t owe this trick an explanation! “What do you need earplugs for?!” she pressed. “Going to a concert,” I mumbled. “Tsss,” she clucked incoherently and shook her head, “earplugs.”

Anyways, the judging. It totally happens. I know that I shouldn’t care what a pimple-ridden 16-year-old thinks about my buy-one-get-one Lean Cuisines or Cracklin’ Oat Bran, but for some strange reason, I do. If you really think about it, your grocery haul is a kinda-sorta reflection of yourself. It’s personal, man. And I’m just not sure, as a woman in my mid-twenties, how I feel about coming across as a junk food-eating teenager with a dash of octogenarian thrown in for good measure. You, my dear self-checkout, are a judgment-free zone…much like Planet Fitness. Just me, a lone scanner, and my shameful groceries. If I so choose, I can slip my Slim Jims into that eco-friendly bag without anyone ever being the wiser. I know you’ll never tell my secrets, and that’s why I love you.

Yours forever,
Kim Windyka

Photo by Andy King (Creative Commons)

  • Fun post–an ode to the self-checkout. It’s funny: I feel SO INEPT at a self-checkout. It always feels like a pop quiz at how to move things from my right to my left, or my left to my right, or how to scan items. There’s a rare time that I leave a self-checkout without a sweaty forehead or my anxiety level at a 10. Plus, studies show that people suck at self-checkout lines, but…I’m glad that you actually need one. I agree that it’s easier to fill my gummies addiction alone, at my own kiosk, than with the same person who knows my gelatinous secrets. But really, I’m starting to avoid them because I feel so stupid…

    …and lazy.

    P.S. Come visit Chicago…we have them everywhere, with lines galore of people like me, freaking out and despairing. Good times.