A Day in the Life at U-SCAN
It’s 6:00 o’clock in the morning, and all that greets me when I walk into Kroger is silence, save for the quiet flush of the air conditioner and the sound of the engines of the various coolers, going. I go to the service desk and retrieve the “manager’s” U-SCAN keys, and before I can even flick at least 1 light on, there is already somebody with absolutely nothing better to do, asking, ”Are you gonna open up?”
I think to myself, we’re the only 2 people up here in the front, so I know you know I know that we both know that that was a rhetorical question, right? But, I paste on that legendary “retail” smile, so fake and vacant, simply answering, “ Yes, sir; you can come right here,” pointing to the nearest U-SCAN computer, the one closest to the cashier-station, for the man looks like he lacks a great amount of intelligence, and an even greater amount of common sense!
Only buying a coffee and 2 donuts, his transaction takes a full 5 minutes and ½, when it should only take 2…tops! And, it is a full 5 minutes indeed, full of questions, expletives, and fallen facial expressions.
Around 8 now, after having battled relentlessly and quite possibly, futilely, I take my 1st break, with only enough energy to lay my head down and close my eyes, banishing the world to nonexistence by shutting myself down, forcing myself into a brief lull – mind, body, and soul, the lull so sumptuous and plush, I want to stay lodged in that world forever. But, I can’t, because it’s only fifteen minutes, and we’re on “Their,” Corporate’s, time.
I awake and make that treacherous journey back downstairs, to my station; around twelve, the store is bustling with activity, full of people and their variegated personalities and problems.
I look at my watch, and it’s only 12:15.Here on out, it’s all downhill, hell breaking loose and finally freezing over. I have a line, a line that is hardly a line at all, blotches of people blotting the walk-space of the U-SCANs, each person in line, poised to spring on the nearest available one, as the person using it struggles through, practically rushing to finish due to the anxiousness of the atmosphere, from the customer’s countenances, to the impatient stances, right back to the thickness of “peak store-hour” business.
God, the U-SCAN seriously needs an ex-lax for it is severely backed up, suffering a very bad case of constipation. Lord, help me!
And, then, all at once, everyone collectively doesn’t know how to work the machines, voice-automated and on-screen instructions going completely unheeded. Goodness, these people drive on the road?! No wonder there is such a high mortality rate and car crashes, on the road. They don’t pay attention, and don’t read!!
The Tribe of the Clueless refocuses its energies on a combination of complaining and walking out, leaving their groceries behind, in the middle of an order, grumbles and voiced frustrations clouding the atmospheric space.
I look at my watch again, and it’s now 1:30, and I have yet to take my last break, for whatever retarded reason, probably because the needs of the store, it being busy, overrides my need for sanity and peace, because aren’t we service-people just a bunch of robots…models no. 16-34, edition 6, make: Kroger Mid-Atlantic.
I surrender myself to the power of “Whatever, it’s cool.” The Floor Supervisor informs me, being a day late and TWO dollars short, that I haven’t taken my last break. I look at my watch again, and the face says, 1:45 pm. And you can only guess what I say in return, “ Whatever, it’s cool…”, knowing full-well it isn’t. Umm, how about we do our jobs??
Well, I can at least say, the front-end managerial staff takes note of the floundering customers stopped up at U-SCAN and at registers 6 & 7; the Front-End needed to take TWO ex-lax, for 2 lanes newly open, the lines quickly thinning, it all flowing again.
Looking at the time on the credit-slip that prints, I see it is now 2:03, and I patiently wait for my relief to show up; she calls in late lots of times, and I pray that this isn’t one of those days…out of all days. I look at credit-slip #10,750, and it is now 2:06! She is taking longer to get here than Judgement Day!
Finally, she lackadaisically shuffles through the door, clocks in, and wondrously takes forever and a day. As she arrives, I have nothing left to give but a harsh look of annoyance and an even harsher silence! Darnit, she deserves it!!
I busy myself with the chore of trying to sign off from the cashier-station, having to quickly sign into each self-serve computer screen, before fully signing out. I try to do it quick enough that a customer won’t come up and look at the screen with bewilderment and ultimately ask, “Why does the screen say, ‘PLEASE WAIT’?” And I would say to myself, it’s called a segue, the transition period. I’m no longer the “operator”, for I am signed off, at last, Alexis, the one who is relieving me, presently struggling with signing on, a customer already saying, “ Excuse me; that’s the wrong price!!”
And immediately after, before she can even give an answer, someone projects, from behind, “ Ma’am, I need your help!!”
Having gotten my belongings, I clock out and head for the door, not planning on stopping – for anything, or anyone. Heading outside, I can already hear Alexis gently intoning, in that “customer service” way, “Ma’am, you have to ------ “
And that’s all I hear, for it goes unfinished, as I exit, out of earshot; I cross the parking lot, never looking back. Never…ever…looking back…