Tech -tills: The Supermarket

Only I wasn’t really sure this was where the shop was either. I hit the wrong button and the car started to self clean at the traffic lights. That’s always embarrassing and I think you can be fined for it. more. 

I can’t believe I’m here. It’s a supermarket of all places. I am the only human here. I didn’t even know this was still possible. I have walked around the place and collected my own groceries. Mostly I have just felt in the way. This trolley has a duff wheel-astonishing. With all this tech, no one has figured out how to make supermarket trolleys with wheels that work.

This trolley has a little digital display on it. Every time I put something into the trolley it tells me how much I have spent. In theory I should be able to just walk through the checkout at the end and the transaction will be done, but that part of the store isn’t working. I saw it on the paper sign as I came in. Who the hell puts up paper signs-where did they even get the paper? It was over the digital display which was also broken.

I suspect that so few people do their transactions this way anymore that it broke at some point and wasn’t worth fixing. This place is like a museum. You can trace the different ways supermarket technology has changed by the left over tech. Its telling me I have spent £10,000  now. It is clearly faulty. There are only a handful of things in my trolley. I need more but everything in this shop is either moving so fast I can only just dodge it, so slow I lose patience or is now perfectly still.

I am in the way. Some of these machines were clearly not designed for human interaction. Every so often I have to leap to one side out of the way of an overzealous bot looking for the vegan sugar-I thought all sugar was vegan but maybe not. The baked bean tins I want are blocked by a broken down robot and whilst a machine is able to find a means of getting around it, I couldn’t. My human arms just weren’t flexible enough. I will be going without baked beans this week.

I am only here because the connection between my house and the supermarket has somehow been lost. That is not even supposed to be possible. It was a total shock to me and to my devices. I have no idea how or why but in the meantime, the machine told me, I would need to do a manual shop. It told the car, but the car got the shop location wrong so I had to override it on the way here. Only I wasn’t really sure this was where the shop was either. I hit the wrong button and the car started to self clean at the traffic lights. That’s always embarrassing and I think you can be fined for it. I arrived here with the car nice and clean and a trail of water and detergent behind us. Needless to say I had a choice of car parking spaces. I am surprised they have not built on them but maybe no one wants to live near a supermarket. Maybe they have just forgotten the space is here.

There was a robot to guide us to a parking space but I think that was overkill. It wanted me to park quite a distance from the entrance, apparently you are still not allowed in the parent child spots even though yours is the only car there. My car refused to over ride the robots order so my car is a mere speck in the distance from inside the shop.

The whole place hums with the low level buss of a machine. It feels as if you are walking into a computer. The inside is quite dark. Not all the lights are working and they don’t bother to fix them. The tech doesn’t need light the way humans do. As a matter of fact I think the lighting only flicked on as I came in. it detected a ‘human entry’ as I am known. The whole thing is a little confusing and out of control. I am here anyway. I wasn’t even sure if I could get in. But the doors opened when I approached. It beeped in recognition of my organic nature. It all feels a little odd, I am quite nervous. I don’t want to be as they are probably using some tech to track my moods and nervous will attract the attention of security. Supermarkets didn’t have the best reputation when it came to robot security. I know that was a while ago but I don’t want to tempt fate.

The shelves are well stocked if a little chaotic. There isn’t much need for order, the robots here identify things by scanning for tiny coded chips. You can put stuff anywhere and they can find it. The semblance of order is only for the odd human who comes here. It is pretty obvious people don’t come here often. At the very end of the store is a robot sitting at an old style till and I think that is where I will have to go to pay. Meanwhile I dodge everything around and about me.

When I get to the till, I have to switch the robot on. Thank goodness there is just a big green button in the middle-this is lowest common denominator tech.  It whirrs into life and speaks slightly mechanically. Asks me how I am? How are my children? I have none. Surely it should have registered that from my allocated parking space. I think this is very old tech.

I put things on the counter and it begins to slide and scan them. And it smiles ridiculously at me. I smile back. I am paying with my device I think. I have no idea if it will work. I pack the stuff back into the trolley. There are no bags, of course there are no bags, why would we need bags. Mostly my groceries are delivered to the side door and put directly into the fridge and the cupboards-I think. This usually happens when I am out or in the shower or some other time. I have no idea where most of this stuff goes or I guess if I even need this stuff. I am just shopping because the device said I needed to shop. It was going to send me a list but it hasn’t arrived. I guess there is no connection. That was clever, perhaps the house sent it to the car and the car didn’t bother passing it on to my device in my bag. In any event I am just buying random stuff.

I am guessing. The machine at the till is beeping and the beep is getting longer. Then it just stops. Typically, absolutely the machine just stops. I look around me. There is no one here to help. What do I do? There isn’t another human on site. I look around for an alarm button, anything. Actually I don’t really want supermarket robot security. I do the obvious thing. I just reach over, hold the button down and switch the robot off. Some things never change. Then I switch it on again. Reboot. It then tells me I will need to start again, so I put it all back on the other end of the counter and it starts processing it again. I keep watching it. I don’t want to do this a third time. I try to remain calm but I am edgy, I know that.

Suddenly a second robot is there looking over my shoulder. It has security written on it. It starts reading its protocol. This is just a random check that they do on humans who enter the store to check that they are not stealing. I have been selected for checking etc etc. I am the only human in the store so it makes sense that I would be selected although it’s all a bit creepy. I try to maintain calm, these robots are not the best programmed machines. I am meticulous, methodical and calm. Somewhere I can hear two robots crashing into each other.

Really I just want to be out of here and never do this again. Both robots are smiling at me now and there is panic in the pit of my stomach. I can’t explain it. They are making me uncomfortable. The lights are flickering. I keep putting my groceries into my trolley. Really!  Could this robot get much slower. My smile is literally plastered on now. I am sure they know. Know what! There is nothing to know. I haven’t done anything wrong. The connection between my house and the supermarket is lost. I am not stealing anything. I am just doing a manual shop.

My palms are sweaty. I think my breathing is getting faster. I need to stay calm. These security robots can be a bit, well eccentric. It is watching me. I am trying not to rush. I am putting things that I am not sure that I need into my trolley in a measured way with a smile on my face. Plastered, glued, stuck onto my face. I want to run but I must shop. I must stay calm. They are both looking at me. The till robot is finished and I have to pay. It rings up the total. I don’t even look at it. I rummage in my bag for the device. I am making a mess of it. Where is it? Why is it not at my finger tips. Was I too over eager on an item? Did I put something in before it scanned.

I have no idea. I am so hot and so worried. I keep smiling. I want to say something but what. I pass me device over the machine and payment is accepted. I want to run. I seriously just want to run. They are both staring at me, smiling. I hate this place.

‘Have a nice day’ they say in unison. I am creeped out and I leg it for the door. Before I am even in the car, I am being asked about ‘my experience’ so ‘we can make it better for everybody’. I hit the go button on my car. OMG why does the ‘go button’ look exactly like the self clean button. I look for cancel. I can’t find it. I do the survey whilst the car cleans itself. I am leaving more water and detergent in the car park as I finally head for home. I never want to do that again.

2 thoughts on “Tech -tills: The Supermarket

  1. Leave me a topic and I will write something on it. Anything. I have no idea why the concept of driverless cars is more popular than self cleaning ones and I hope they go together when they happen-not so sure about the supermarket concept.


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