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Guest Column

Shopping 'til you drop your wits

By BRUCE MICHAUD
Published November 30, 2007


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Have you had this problem?

I go shopping and get everything I wanted, plus things I wanted when I was 10 years old.

I watch the clerk ring up all my items and get my total. I hold my credit card out for the clerk to grab. "Just run it through the machine, sir," she says.

You want me to run my card through the machine? I go to church, and the priest can't even put the bread in my mouth anymore - he hands it to me so I can put it in. I could understand if a credit card or piece of bread weighed about 50 pounds and a back might go out, but this isn't the case.

You have to be cool. Ten people in line are watching you, and the cashier couldn't possibly be asking you to do something that requires any real brain activity.

The first step is to see how to swipe the card through the machine. I study the picture to see exactly how to hold the card, and my brain opens my skull lid and walks out of the store to go and sit in the car. Now I have to use pure skill to complete this mission. I hold the card exactly like the little example picture and swipe it through.

I am no longer aware of all the people looking at me. I am now Tom Cruise completing a mission. "English or Spanish." I don't want my money in pesos, so I press English. "Credit or Debit." Hmm. Credit means I'll be adding to the card, debit means taking away. Trying to make me look dumb, huh? I hit debit.

"Four-digit code." When I accepted this mission I was not given a four-digit code. I see the cashier trying to tell me what to do next. All I hear is blah, blah, blah echoing through my empty skull. I hit "control alt delete" and press credit. No password needed.

I see a blank line, so I sign my name and look up to confirm I did this in record time with no help. I put the high-tech writing instrument back in its holster and dust off my card.

I look over at the cashier, who is filing her nails and chewing gum, and hear her mumble, "If you're done, hit OK." I now have high-tech blind spots in my eyes and can't see this "OK" sign she is talking about. A hand reaches over and points to it. I hit "OK."

It's hard to believe 20 minutes have gone by.

I strut out like John Travolta in Grease and look for my brain. I go home and check that I have my card even though I never handed it to the cashier. She is very nice when I go back to get the stuff I forgot on the counter.

I anticipate losing 40 pounds when self-service checkout lines are mandatory. It will be easier to hunt and trap for dinner in my own back yard.

Bruce Michaud lives in Odessa.

[Last modified November 29, 2007, 22:32:45]


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