Welcome! I'm the sleek, new touchscreen kiosk designed to expedite your grocery experience and put elderly part-timers out of work. Ready to hop on the 12-Items-Or-Less Express? I'd say so, with that DIY game-face. You're planning on scanning, bagging, and skedaddling before those idiots in the regular lines are asked “paper or plastic?” Besides, how hard could it really be, right? There's just one small problem with your point-of-purchase game plan, however. I am a self-checkout kiosk; and you, my friend, are in this for the long haul.
I get it. My operating system may look like it could run on a Fisher-Price LeapTop Touch, but don't be fooled by the over-sized print or intuitive icons. I am a UX night terror and I will feed on every last ounce of your time and sanity.
You'll start to realize what I'm talking about before you even scan your first item. Stop, thief! There's an unexpected item in the bagging area. That's our polite way of calling you a good-for-nothing shoplifter. Sticky fingers much? Of course, there's nothing in the bagging area. Chalk that one up to my bizarrely sensitive sensors. You'll spend a minute fumbling to displace the weight like Indiana Jones with a bag of sand, but of course to no avail; it's just air. Feel as silly as you look? Good, because I'm going to make you regret ever stepping down my lane. You, are going nowhere, bub.
By now we'll have to escalate the situation and get a shift manager involved. She's the one frantically hopping from kiosk to kiosk like a 19th-century field hospital nurse. She'll patronizingly ask if you “might have” placed anything in the bagging area by mistake, then walk you through a simple 30-step maneuver that resets the system and re-codes part of the Matrix.
Three minutes in and not a single item scanned. So much for your “quick trip to the store.” With this little pre-transaction flub out of the way, however, you'll finally be able to start ringing up your order, right?
Wow! Someone sure knows their way around the produce section—such a healthy eater you are! Unfortunately your fruits and vegetables won't have bar codes, which means you'll have to look them up individually by their 4-digit combinations. There's just something about produce that it tastes better when it's encrypted, right?
Finding bok choy in the system is really going to give you trouble. You'll convince yourself it's spelled “bak,” but that's Ong Bak you're thinking of. No matter, they'll just have one of the teenage bag-boys find the number on the shelf. He's the rising star giving himself LASIK with a register's scan gun. Spoiler alert, you'll watch that kid vanish into the aisles like a puff of Juul, and that's the last you'll ever see of him. You might as well start munching on that nice selection of greens, because it'll have started browning by the time we're through.
Slowly but surely, you'll whittle your way down to the last item in your cart. Just one bottle of water with a perfectly legible bar code stands between you and the exit. Beep. Beep. It scans but displays an error code. The shift manager is called over yet again, and this time dropping all pretense of patience, will explain that the bottle was removed from a larger multi-pack and not for individual purchase. You'll resist the urge to outright punch me. Big brother is always watching, mind you. But you knew that. You've watched your face grow increasingly flush with emotion via my HD display since the outset. Our apologies for the unflattering angle.
At this point, you'll glance around in desperation, seeking solidarity from the other self-checkout patrons, surely as beleaguered as you. Then you see a man in his mid-70s running laps around you at the next register. You'll snap at this, and begin to tap my interface with the gusto of a shiatsu massage therapist. Please bear in mind though I am a touchscreen, not a speed bag.
So close, yet so far away. You feel like you could cry; but come now, when did crying ever help anyone? You select “credit card” as your payment method, but timing the chip reader will be your undoing.
You are no match for this supercomputer.
Have a nice day.