Computerized Cattle

For some reason I went to the new-ish TJ Maxx/Home Goods store to look around. I’ve never bought anything there because it’s always packed and the lines are so long that I don’t care what they have or for how cheap; I don’t need it that bad. But, being a Tuesday afternoon I figured it would be relatively safe and I was in the area, anyway.

I found a bathing suit that I liked, which is rare, and it was a good price. I don’t think I own one anymore since I haven’t been to a pool or beach in over a year and a half. So I proceeded to the cattle round-up where I walked about a quarter of a mile in circles to stand in line.
There were three people in front of me, with four registers open. Or so I thought.

This particular TJ Maxx has an automated system where the employee activates their register and a computerized text box in front of the next customer scrolls a message about which lane is now open. “Register six is now open. Please proceed to register six.” By the way, I mention register 6 because she was the only one who was ringing people up; the other three employees were too busy chatting.

So I’m standing there, gripping my new bathing suit, staring at this scrolling text box for about five minutes, watching each person ahead of me go to the woman right in front of us. I’m waiting for it to tell me where to go when I realize someone’s shouting at me. Someone all the way down at the first register is feverishly motioning for me to come to her register. I paused. The big box didn’t tell me to go down there. It still says register 6, not register 1. I look around and a couple of other people in line motion for me to go. The women working behind register 1 looked at me like I was a complete idiot.

I was instantly irritated because I try to be a polite and considerate shopper. I was paying attention to the computerized box that tells me what to do, like a good little doggie, which is apparently what they prefer or else they would not have installed this system.
In our very brief, yet somewhat unpleasant, encounter, there was very little this woman actually had to do. I give her the items, I run my card through, I punch in my pin number. With the self-service lanes at places like Lowe’s and Sunflower Market, you don’t need anyone to help you and I like that just fine. All the lady had to do was:

1) Remove the anti-theft device. 2) Scan the tag. 3) Push one magical button for total. 4) Place the item and receipt in bag. 5) Hand the bag to me. 6) Thank me.

Wait, you can take out numbers 4 and 5. She could’ve just put the receipt on top of the bathing suit and slid it a few inches toward me. I didn’t even need a bag, which is what I generally say to people when they start to get one, if I haven’t brought one with me. Oddly enough, their response is usually one of shock, to which Shae can attest. I remember reading something on her blog about that a while ago (“You don’t want your bag in a bag?!”).
Instead, the “customer service” representative spoke to her coworker, and made me stand there with my card in my hand, waiting for a few minutes for her to ring me up. She didn’t say one single word to me, and didn’t look at me except with something akin to scorn or disdain.

I know I’m being incredibly trivial by blogging about this, but, well . . . I think it hurts my feelings. Maybe it’s too much to ask. I know people don’t like their jobs. I know people don’t want to be on their feet all day. I know it gets annoying to deal with shitty customers. But I try to go out of my way to be nice to everyone, only altering how I deal with them based on their attitude. Even if someone is a total dick to me I might say “Have a nice day,” instead of “Have a great day.” That’s about it. Then again, I’m kind of pushover.
In this case, I wasn’t being a dick. I was just trying to follow directions.


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