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I'm At MY Service!!!

 article about Self-checkout

This article belongs to BUSINESS MONTH: Creativity theme.

We have all been told through out our lives that doing volunteer work is extremely rewarding. I know that most people volunteer for small non-profit organizations, with hospitals, with the elderly, or perhaps doing things for the environment and if I wasn't already working many many hours a month doing my other volunteer work then maybe I could pursue one of these opportunities but honestly who has the time?!?!?!

They have in a stroke of pure genius gotten the entire community involved in a way that even the Spotted Owl campaign has failed to do.
No, I instead have chosen to volunteer for large ultra-profit, soul sucking corporations and businesses almost exclusively it seems and thus I just don't have time anymore for the sick, the elderly, or the environment. I am an active volunteer at almost every major store I go to these days because I feel strongly that I can offer much more to the needy customer (in this case me) by doing everything myself thereby leaving the staff to do more important things like texting their friends or chatting on the cell phone to loved ones. The place I do the bulk of my volunteer work though is at the grocery store. I am of course referring to the "Self Checkout" line.

Grocery stores and even a few other non-food item stores have implemented a volunteer program for their customers which provide the unique opportunity to give back to the mega soul sucking super store by happily volunteering your time doing various activities that used to occupy the valuable time of their employees. They have in a stroke of pure genius gotten the entire community involved in a way that even the Spotted Owl campaign has failed to do.

By deliberately hiring complete and total half wits that take forty five minutes to ring up and bag your groceries, they have mobilized the community like no other volunteer organization has done to date to pitch in and help out where it is so obviously needed. Today you can take the exhaustive and heavy burden of scanning items into a computer off the staff and step up and do your part for once. They even have finally convinced us all to bag our own groceries spearheaded by their cunning promotion of flat squashed bread and broken eggs. It is a long time in the making but we are finally there!

If you have a mere weeks worth of extra time on your hands you can buy green tomatoes, bananas, and even petrified pears which you ripen yourself.
If you are one of those EXTRA generous Americans who decided to enroll in the "Produce Ripening" volunteer program at your local grocery store then you get bonus volunteer recognition! Yes it is hard to believe that such huge soulless corporations can provide this much to the community in the way of volunteer work but it is true. If you have a mere weeks worth of extra time on your hands you can buy green tomatoes, bananas, and even petrified pears which you ripen yourself.

This not only gives back to the mega soul sucking super store in many ways but also cuts the transportation costs in addition to reducing traffic on the roads. Think about it people, by selfishly buying a red tomato that arrived at the store that day you have callously demanded that there be a truck on the road with your ripe tomato in it earlier that night. However if you buy a rock hard green tomato that got shipped weeks before it was ripe then they can ship an entire crop of un-ripened tomatoes using just one truck every so often when the tomatoes are big enough, thereby reducing traffic in your community. Your sacrifice also allows those drivers to spend more time standing on the side of the roads with cardboard signs desperately encouraging other community members to give, instead of driving on those roads every day for your selfish produce needs! It's called "Buying Green" people, Ever heard of it?!?!?!? They have even made it super convenient for you to purchase your produce at the "Self Checkout" line. For instance you only have to spend and extra twenty five minutes scrolling through every kind of lettuce on the planet to find the one you have decided to make a salad with that week. You also get that feeling of accomplishment when you finally find out that it is called "Leaf Lettuce" as apposed to all those other kinds of lettuces that apparently don't have leaves.

Lately I actually kind of feel guilty with so many others doing so much for their mega soul sucking corporations because I have recently and quite selfishly decided to only eat produce that starts with the first three letters of the alphabet.

I have made this personal decision in order to split my time between work, the grocery store AND my family instead of just devoting all of my time to my paid and now volunteer work. I know it isn't in the volunteer and giving spirit of things but what can I say, I guess I am just selfish and want that extra time with my wife and the kids. Yup, it is only Apples, Bananas and Carrots for me and my family because I simply don't have the extra volunteer time that other non-working parents do to scroll through that screen alphabetically to find my produce. I mean after all I still have to pay full price for my grocery bill even though I am volunteering my time. It breaks my heart when my daughter looks into my eyes and asks, why the other kids get to eat Yams and she doesn't but I simply explain to her that Yams start with the letter "Y" and Daddy has to work, in addition to helping out at the grocery store. I try and compensate her though by letting her play with my seventeen bonus cards from all the various stores. I figure it is the least I can do since I don't have any room in my wallet for her pictures because of them all. She always asks me in her oh so adorable youthful innocence, "Daddy why don't the stores just make things cheaper instead of making all these cards?" I wisely reply with, "Because Peanut, This way we have a sense of belonging to the grocery store as a community instead of simply shopping there, that is why we spend so much time volunteering there instead of outside playing in the sunshine."
I kind of appreciated the fact that every one in the store knew whenever I was buying hemorrhoid cream; it saved me the trouble of running around and telling everyone in person.

Recently our soul sucking mega corporation grocery store has taken their community based volunteer program to that extra level with a new program. Upon entering the store you are instantly able to volunteer your time by picking up your very own scanner and set of bags.

As you shop you can scan the items and place them into the bag on the move thereby also helping with the mega store's inventory tracking process. To make it exciting for the whole family, the scanner's digital screen randomly displays one of ten savings (on things you aren't buying) that is on top of your bonus card savings. The display of these items you weren't going to purchase and still aren't, are accompanied by an exciting "CHA CHING!!!!" Not only does this provide you with the entertaining option to stare down at a screen while navigating your cart but it allows you the rare opportunity to introduce yourself to other community members in the store after apologizing to them for ramming your cart into their shins. To bad Ace Bandages never seem to be one of the ten extra saving options. At the very least though it allows the whole store to acknowledge you as a volunteer employee, every 2 minutes, CHA CHING!!!! CHA CHING!!!! CHA CHING!!!!!

Personally I am not entirely sure about this new feature because all your purchased items are then already in bags, and in your cart, which takes away a great deal from the community based personal interactions. For instance every single item you purchase is no longer shouted out at the "Self Checkout "by a SUPER AMPLIFIED computerized voice for every one else in the store to hear and discuss. I kind of appreciated the fact that every one in the store knew whenever I was buying hemorrhoid cream; it saved me the trouble of running around and telling everyone in person. The new program does however help you avoid having to create that huge tower of merchandise on the one foot by one foot tiny scale at the end of the "Self Checkout" line that if you breathe on the wrong way goes unbalanced. While at first glance it appears that this is better for our grocery store community because we don't have to waste the time of that last remaining actual "working" employee, whose sole job it is to come over and clear that locked screen for us volunteers. I would argue that I have built some lasting and true bonds with some of the other volunteers in the fifteen minutes it takes that poor lone working employee to come over and press a button. My daughter however will invariably one day argue FOR the new program since she was crushed under a falling tower of groceries last month that was carefully balanced on the tiny scale at the end of the "Self Checkout" lane, but on the other hand, I did meet her reconstructive plastic surgeon in that very same line while waiting the fifteen minutes for the employee to come unlock the screen so we could leave with our groceries for the emergency room. I guess the jury is still out on that one. Besides, I told her it was really her fault since she looked at the scale wrong sending it into unbalance and then lock down mode.

"My name is Andrei Trostel and APPARENTLY I work for the grocery store, I'm at MY service!"

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