There’s only so much a person can take, amidst the surround-sound of several automated check-out facilities, each endlessly blathering out their repetitive messages amidst a cacophony of bleeps and bongs.
Worn out by several times having had to “Please call for an assistant” and being advised that “Help is on the way”, I’d finally finished scanning in all my purchases and had come to the end-game.
“Select payment method”, came the instruction. I looked hopefully for a screen-button labelled ‘Theft: no payment method applicable’ … but it wasn’t there.
Then came my next visit.
“Please place your item in the baggage area”, said the machine. I complied, with a strange grin on my face.
“Unexpected item in baggage area”, it said, just before my foot smashed in the console screen. The nearby shoppers edged away.
“Yes”, I shouted back, “it’s an unexpected bomb that will blow your e-brains all the way to that big supermarket in the sky”. The nearby shoppers scattered.
“Approval needed”, chirruped our e-friend in reply, sounding somewhat peeved.
“That’s where you’re wrong”. I laughed. “You’ve got thirty seconds before it’s goodnight vienna.”
“Have you swiped your Nectar card?”, came the surprisingly cheery response.
This gave me momentary pause. Might as well, I mused, there’s still time and it’d be a shame to lose all those points.
I swiped, then ran like hell.
Over my shoulder, across the rapidly expanding distance, I heard ….
“Thankyou for using …”