Deborah Ross: Tills that make you do the work are evil

If you ask me...

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If you ask me, although we know the world to be an evil and unforgiving place full of malice and spite, I don't think anyone can appreciate just how evil, unforgiving, malicious and spiteful it is until they've trucked up to their local supermarket – Waitrose, in this instance; I'm middle-class and the other supermarkets frighten me; so much child-slapping! – and discover half the tills have been replaced with self-service checkouts that would take half the time if only they didn't take double the time and necessitate hours of crucial bag positioning. And why would I want to serve myself anyhow? Don't I see enough of myself every day as it is? As for "unexpected item in bagging area", isn't that all my hopes and dreams and self-respect tumbling out in one big whoosh? And why would that be unexpected?

I believe the rot first set in with those "fast ticket" machines in railway stations whose name suggests they are quite the fastest way to purchase tickets, although first you have to navigate the array of ticket types on offer: Single; Day Return; Day Return (With Railcard); Day Return (No Railcard); Open Return (Railcard Pending); Closed Return (Railcard on Spa Mini Break) Returning Whenever (Peak); Returning Tomorrow (Off Peak); Returning Last Week (Slightly Peaky); Returning With A Bounce In My Step (Not In The Least Peaky); Travelling While Wearing A Carmen Miranda Hat (Special Carmen Miranda Hat Concessionary Rate); Travelling With Aforementioned Hat Tipped At Saucy Angle (Before 9am), and so on. And then it will flash "bank cards not accepted" and reject all your notes and meanwhile? The person behind is cussing, the queue at the human ticket office has quadrupled, you've missed six trains, and your Carmen Miranda hat has lost its bloom, which means you now need a new ticket: Travelling While Wearing a Carmen Miranda Hat (Bananas Gone Off).

So this is why I intend to fully shy away from the self-service checkouts in supermarkets, and will make for the human at the till to whom, of course, I can moan about prices and request leaky items be changed – go on, ring that bell no-one attends to – before fumbling extensively for my purse and perhaps emptying my handbag contents all over the conveyor belt. Might you hold out too, and get behind me on this? Although not literally, obviously, as that could take forever.

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