I'm at CVS yesterday waiting, for the only open register, in a long line densely populated by unblinking imbeciles and people who appear to be dying.
It's taking forever.
"You can step over here," says the store employee whose job it is to usher people to the self-checkout kiosks.
As a curmudgeon, I don't like dealing with kiosks. I prefer to deal with humans working on getting their GEDs.
As an amateur linguist, I don't like language that cringes, and so it always grates on me to be told to "step" anywhere. I'd rather be told to get my ass over to the kiosks than to be told to "step over" to them.
And as a two-bit humanist activist, I don't like watching humans talk humans into replacing humans with machines.
She asked me once, and I said no, I'd stay in the line for the cashier (who was meanwhile arguing to the kiosk lady that a mutual girlfriend had been a "butthole" for kicking her boyfriend out the house when he hadn't so much as laid a hand on her).
Then on my way out she asked me why I'd stubbornly insisted on staying in line with the dunces. I said, "Because the kiosks put people out of work."
"I'm still here," she said with a smile.
"Not for long," I said, walking out the door. "Only until you talk everybody into using the kiosks."
It sounded harsh coming out of my mouth, even though I was smiling too.
But what the hell? It's hard to see it any other way. Back when we were unwittingly talked by the fast-food chains into becoming our own busboys, I think we trusted that every achievement in American efficiency would lend yet more opportunity. We assumed that grunt jobs eliminated from the growing economy would turn into more fulfilling jobs added later on.
I'm not sure we buy that today.
So why should we let these drug-store and grocery chains turn us into cashiers?
Next stop, the loading dock ….