Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Check out This Idea

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Check out This Idea

Article excerpt

Byline: gary BAINBRIDGE

ITOOK the surprisingly large amount of groceries I could hold in my hands to the self-checkout queue. A lesser man, or perhaps a more sensible man, would have admitted defeat earlier and gone back to the store entrance to pick up a basket.

However, I tried that once, and was accosted by a security guard who believed I was trying to leave the store without paying, like the world's worst shoplifter.

They say the best place to hide something is in plain sight, but I actually had the neck of a loaf of medium-sliced trapped and dangling between my chin and my own neck, and a tray of posh sausages gripped by my armpit. I definitely looked shifty, but there was no way I could look the security guard in the eye without dropping my bread.

Anyway, my turn came at the head of the queue, which was just as well as my eggs were slipping. Gingerly, I attempted to transfer what was in my hands to the Platform of Preparation. (I do not know what that part of the self-checkout is called and I do not wish to find out because it will have a boring name.) But I am a man of very slightly above average height, and the platform was too low.

Bending was out of the question, because the Jenga tower I had constructed out of groceries would have toppled. And so I had to crouch, legs akimbo, like a policeman from the olden days saying "Evening, all", and I had push the tower on to the platform using my chest.

Relieved, and with a sense of achievement, I took the first item - a piece of cheese - and swiped it across the Screen of Scanning. Then I did it again after pulling the packaging taut so there were no folds in the bar code. It beeped.

And then, as I was about to place the cheese in the Bagging Area, a man's voice said to me: "This selfcheckout is card only. Do you wish to continue?" That was not right. I had been down that road many times before and it was always a woman's voice which advised me that my cash wasn't good enough for her shop.

Perhaps it is my age. Perhaps it is the sleepless nights. Perhaps I am just working too damned hard doing the difficult-to-explain thing I do when I am not writing this column. …

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