Nuts and Bolts

Or maybe just nuts.

My cover designer slash beta reader slash best friend for life tells me that a blog is a way to connect with readers, that an author has to establish himself as a real person.  Based on some of the crazy things that happen to me in the most ordinary of situations, I’m not so sure that anyone would believe I am real, but here goes.

We’ve been in the process of moving back to Missouri, with all the tasks that come with, including establishing a household and waiting for various shipments of furniture and boxes to arrive.  The last of it finally did, however anyone who has ever suffered through a move that wasn’t inspired by a house fire knows this:  You lose stuff.  We have a propensity to lose small items of obscure hardware vitally necessary to the reassembly of larger items.  Fortunately, there is a large chain hardware store nearby, and I am becoming a frequent customer there.

Today’s quest involved bolts, the kind required to reassemble a glass table that we had purchased in Peru.  The Peruvians are an industrious, hardworking people, and they make a lot of stuff there.  That was the case with this table.  It wasn’t an expensive item, maybe $100 US, but it nevertheless arrived without eight small bolts that would be required to restore it to the upright position.  I chose to revel in the fact that the glass tabletop had arrived intact, and skipped to my car for my almost daily trip to the above mentioned hardware store.

Finding what I needed wasn’t an issue, as the store has this neat little thing you can use to pick out the appropriate size of bolt or nut, from standard sizes all the way to that weird metric stuff that’s made in Malaysia.

Bolts and washers

Yes, I know, they look like condoms.  That’s because the total for said items (eight small bolts and ten lock washers) came to about eight bucks plus tax, so I felt like I was getting screwed.

Like most places, there is never a cashier when I need one, or the one I see from across the store has her “next register” sign up where I can’t see it until I’ve given up a more expeditious place in line to a family of twelve who are buying half the store.  But that’s okay, because there’s the self-checkout, and I’ve only got a few things.

Let me just say this – I HATE the self-checkout.  While I am mostly of the belief that wages are defined by the market and the guy at the fast food place who consistently screws up my order is NOT worthy of the same wage as a firefighter or paramedic, people at hardware chain stores work hard, at least they do for me, and deserve every penny they get and probably more.  The idea of replacing a cashier with a machine disgusts me.  I will wait the extra five minutes, just let me deal with a real person.  One lady was running herself ragged trying to run four of these self-checkout abominations so the company could save a few bucks on the payroll.  Since I wouldn’t be changing the world today, I just stepped up to one of them, thinking that at least this hard working lady wouldn’t be bothered with my small purchase.

The next lady I interacted with was the voice of the self-checkout machine, lending further evidence to the theory that these machines are possessed and of the devil.  I swiped my first item, but nothing happened.  I tried it again, then noticed that the touch-screen had a button “Get Started.”  I tapped it with my index finger.

“Please scan your first purchase.”  The devil’s voice was a female.  It would have deceived me, but I have teenage daughters.  I passed the first packet of lock washers across the glass panel.

Nothing happened.  I did it again, and still nothing.  There was an upright panel on the back of the device, so I waved it in front of that.  Finally, I got a bleep.  Since I had two of the same item, I attempted to scan the packet again to ring up the second packet.

“Please place your item in the bagging area.”

Ok. I will comply.  I dropped the first small packet of washers into the bag.

“Please place your item in the bagging area.”

Uh, I just did.  Maybe the small packet wasn’t heavy enough to trip whatever sensor that devil-woman needed to ensure my compliance.  I saw another button on the touch screen that read, “I do not want to bag this purchase.”  An override.  I touched it lightly with my knuckle.

“Please scan your next item.”

Again, more waving around the packet.  It took about twenty seconds this time to hear the beep.  I complied with the same instruction and got the same message.  Again, I had to tell devil-woman that I did not want to bag the purchase.  I rapped the screen with my knuckle again.

Then the she-devil crossed a line.  She started repeating instructions to me, in that condescending voice she had.  “Please scan your next item…  Please scan your next item…”

I felt my face getting hot, and waved the packet of bolts a little more aggressively.

“Please scan your next item.”

Dammit, that’s what I’m trying to do! I started breathing faster.  I finally got the blip, when the snarky bitch told me to put my shit in the baggage area, like I was in kindergarten or something.  I went straight for the button that said I didn’t want to bag it, and it may have been more than just a rap with my knuckle.  I’m pretty sure I got two knuckles on the screen, so it might have been legally definable as a punch.  A light one, perhaps, but still a punch.

“A cashier will be right with you.”

Oh, so you have a sensor for that, too?  Do you know when a customer punches the screen?  Or did you just know that eventually you were going to speak that venomous honey-drip sugar-pie crap to me long enough that I would finally get pissed?  Did you plan this, she-devil?  You did!

“I’ll be with you in a moment, sir,” said the real voice of the aforementioned hard working nice lady at the counter.

I sighed, and turned around, refusing to make further eye-contact with the she-devil.  She had locked me out anyway, demanding an employee password which she knew I didn’t have.

The real worker, after a moment of helping another customer, stepped around and keyed it in.

“He punched me,” I expected she-devil to tattle.  She didn’t.  But I know she wanted to.  She begrudgingly returned to the shopping screen, “Please scan your next item.”  I swiped it again, and nothing.  I slid it across the horizontal panel, then the vertical one.  I waved it over the thing like a doggie-treat.  Nothing.

The real lady took it out of my hand and waved it.  As soon as the packet came close to she-devil, I heard the bleep.  I pushed the button to close it all out, although it made me nervous to use my credit card.  She-devil is probably on her way to Bermuda right now.

So there you go, readers – something real about me that you now know.  I hate self checkouts, and the succubi who possess them.   However, after returning to my garage without so much as a police escort, I reassembled the table uneventfully.


One comment on “Nuts and Bolts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

fifteen + two =