Ready for Another? – SoCS

It’s been an unusually quiet week around here but some of us still feel like relaxing. So, let’s get over to the bar (I’m running late), order something to quench our thirst and see what we can do with Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt:

“Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is ‘the last thing you emptied.’ Think of the last thing you emptied or something you empty often and use it as your prompt any way you like. Have fun!”

If we were having a beer, I’d be late, and you’d be starting without me.

“Cheryl, since I’m paying today, you can start working on a John Howell’s Special for me. I don’t know where Dan is.”

“I’ll get started, David, but he still has a minute. That is, if you guys still meet at three o’clock.”

“We do, but he’s usually early. He got me started coming early and now I feel that to be on time is to be late.”

“Here’s your bourbon, and your snifter of seltzer. I’ll be right back with the ice and cherries. Also, I see Dan coming from the door up top.”

“It’s good to see you, Dan. Where’ve you been?”

“Sorry I’m, what, forty-five seconds late, David. I had to stop at the grocery store.”


“We ran out of grated cheese.”

“That’s more important than cold beer on a Saturday afternoon?”

“No, of course not. I didn’t think it would take as long as it did.”

“Why didn’t you scoot through the self-checkout?”

“Sorry to interrupt this scintillating conversation guys, but Dan, can I get you a cold beer?”

“You can, Cheryl. If you still have Modelo on tap, I’ll have a draft. As to your question David, Big-Y doesn’t have self-checkouts, yet.”

“Yet? What does that mean?”

“They are adding them, but so far, they’ve only torn out the live-person-checkouts, so the lines are backed up to the meat department.”

“Here you go, Dan. Personally, I prefer a human-powered checkout.”

“I do, too, Cheryl, but if the store does self-checkout right, I don’t mind.”

“How do you define ‘doing it right,’ Dan?”

“Like Target and Home Depot, David.”

“What makes them different?”

“They let you leave large or heavy items in your cart. They even give you a scanning gun to use.”

“I take it your other market makes you put everything in the bagging area.”

“Yes, which is a scale. That way they know that you’re not stealing something or swapping items. I could, conceivably put the kitty litter in my cart and toss a ten-pound ham on the bagging table.”

“Don’t they have an attendant watching you?”

“They do, and I’m sure she would notice the old switcheroo if I tried it.”

“Still, as long as the bagging area is big enough, I guess it’s not too bad.”

“It is too bad, David. If I go to a human being, I can hold up one bag of kitty litter and say, ‘I have two of these.’ She rings up both, and I only have to move one bag onto and off of the counter. This way, I have to scan both, move both the bagging area and then later, move both back into my cart.”

“You guys ready for another round?”

“We are, Cheryl, and maybe a pizza. Peperoni and mushrooms OK with you, Dan?”

“Sounds delicious.”

“The part I hate about self-checkout stations is the fact that when you’re putting all your stuff in the bagging area, it’s like playing Jenga in reverse. I mean the bagging areas is less than half the size of a grocery cart, and it doesn’t have sides.”

“You’re right, David. And then, after you pay, it starts snapping at you to remove your items from the bagging area.”

“Exactly! I got in trouble last week because it kept saying that and I finally yelled, ‘Give me a minute!’ Well, I got in trouble because I added something for emphasis.”

“Haha – David, I’m surprised at you. Just for that, this bourbon is on the house. Dan, here’s your beer. Your pizza will be up soon.”

“Well, that worked out, David. You got yelled at by the checkout police but got a free glass of bourbon.”

“If I had known that would happen, Dan, I would have yelled earlier.”

“OK, boys. Here’s your pizza. Need anything with that? Extra napkins, hot pepper, grated cheese?”

“Hot peppers and napkins, Cheryl. Dan brought his own cheese.”

Coming Attraction: Next week, Author and friend Bradley Lewis will join David, me and Skippy. Brad is a fan of Skippy, although we don’t know why. I hope you can join us. It should be fun

If you like magical realism with suspense, action and a bit of family sarcasm, you will enjoy these books:

The Evil You Choose
When Evil Chooses You

Series page on Amazon

My profile page (and books) on Lulu

All available on Kindle Unlimited!


  1. Always good to see Smokey. The pizza looks delicious although the beer’s a bit light. 😁. Not “lite” though. Costco has great self-checkout lines although usually one of the helpers there rings u everything before I can get it myself. I hate the voice at the grocery store self-checkout line that tells you to put your item in the bagging area before you could possibly have done so and then the bagging area is often too small as well. First world problems.

    Enjoy the weekend, Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Costco’s self-checkout is one of the better ones. Even their bagging area is large. These are first world problems, but they are becoming more prevalent. I guess they can’t get people to do the jobs, but the stores we shop at have such nice people. I seek them out if I can. Target is almost 100% self serve. They rarely have more than one cashier, and that’s by corporate design.

      They need to study how these things work with real people using them. All of the functions people complain about can be adjusted. The self-checkout stations at Target are almost a pleasure to use. The ones at our small local grocer are nothing short of annoying.

      Liked by 1 person

      • What I don’t like about self-checkout is that it reduces the number of real people, people who need jobs. But at some of our grocery stores, there are so few real people lines open that they get long lines, pushing me to go to self-checkout for the sake of time. At Costco, all the lines tend to be in use so I don’t feel bad and there are a number of real people at the self-checkout, ready to help.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Dan another good afternoon at the bar as always it was fun to join you all if only virtually it’s always entertaining! Did you get your beer free too ….I think you should of! ..or was it David’s turn to pay?
    Cheryl sounds on form do say hi to her for me.
    Love the photos of the peanut gang that action shot of the bluejay taking off with the peanut it amazing.
    All the photos are great …. Lots of telegraph poles… You think they’d be phasing them out by now in favour of taking the wires underground.
    As for self check out I like them but not everyone does. Some older people enjoy a chat with a human as they leave a shop… It might be their only contact some days! Have a great weekend 💜

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the conversation today, Willow. I don’t mind the self checkout machines or process, but there are some that I avoid and some that I want to smack. It’s not the machine, it’s the people who configured them to treat every customer as if they are a thief. I do enjoy interacting with some people at the checkout – I’d hate to see them all lose their jobs. I guess it’s where we are headed.

      David paid for my beer, so it was free to me ;-) As for the wires going up as opposed to underground, I think that’s our lot in life. There have been reviews of projects to bury the wires, and the cost is prohibitive. There are some towns that require underground service in all new developments, and we have a few new developments where they did go underground, but retrofitting the existing stock is unaffordable.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think I may have said before when I worked in customer service in a large supermarket some twenty years ago we had self check out systems installed. We wondered if it would mean the end of human check out operatives. I am happy to say we still have plenty of ordinary check outs plus the self scan ones too. It seems there is room enough for both! So don’t worry about the check out ladies and gents … They are, in my opinion safe for the foreseeable future.
        As to the wires it is the same here … But each time fresh work is done more cable and fibre goes underground. 💜💜

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’m not sure what prompted this run of activity with the wires (other than a trillion-dollar infrastructure bill the legislature passed). The came through and painted white Xs on all the rotted or badly leaning poles last fall, and they’ve been working steadily to replace them and, in many cases, the power lines as well. This neighborhood was built after WWII (it was cornfields and Army barracks before that), so I guess we’re good for another 60 years.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I usually head to self checkout because it’s quicker, but you’re right about the bagging area. I also like HD checkout better than Lowes because they have the scanner and you can use the phone app for military discount. Market Basket is our only local store still checking and bagging with employees, and I never go in there at a busy time or I’m in a line for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Depending on how the self checkout is set up, I will go there. The ones at HD are very easy to deal with, and they don’t charge you for sturdy paper bags. Since CT eliminated plastic bags, most stores charge 10¢ (the maximum allowed) for a paper bag. I usually prefer Lowes to HD, but the checkout is one area where HD has them beat. I got in trouble at one grocery, because I ran out of room in the bagging area. The attendant wanted me to pile stuff on top of a cheesecake I had at the bottom, or to turn it on its side. I refused. The problem is, the machine stops working when it doesn’t get its way. She eventually agreed to check out my items herself, under her ID.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. For me, self-checkout is the amazing one thing the stores could have done to move the whole shopping experience from unpleasant to intolerable. Great captures of that blue jay, and, of course, a treat to see the trestle — that image sure captures the season!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Some stores have done just that, Maureen. If our local grocer closes the human checkouts without fixing the configuration of the machines, I’ll stop going there. I was directed into the self-checkout by the attendant. I told her I didn’t want to. She assumed I was nervous about using technology. I assured her that was not the case but it was because I had three bags of kitty litter. She offered to show me “how easy it is to use.” I let her. After she wrestled the three bags through the scanner, onto the bagging area and ultimately back into the cart, she agreed it would be easier to tell a human being, “I have three of these.” The machines can be set to accommodate that, but the manager feels it will encourage theft. You know, you buy 10 boxes of pasta but say you have 5. They don’t even let the employees do that at the self checkouts.

      I’m running out of time to see the trestle, but I’ll keep trying, and of course we’ll keep feeding the critters that come to the door.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Looks like Smokey is glad you added the railings as well.
    I like self checkouts when I only have a few items and don’t want to stand in line but it annoys me that a lot of the big stores seem to be phasing out cashiers altogether. There are a lot of seniors who have absolutely no idea to run the machines.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Smokey and the blue jays are the only ones who use the railing. Silly me, I thought I was doing it for human safety.

      The self checkout machines can be adjusted to eliminate most of the problems. The next generation machines won’t even require a bar code, the work from an image database. So if you put a bunch of bananas on the scale, it can tell they’re bananas. In the small grocery we use, the people are definitely part of the shopping experience. The store is more expensive than the much larger one 2 miles away. If they get rid of the personal touch, there’s no reason to shop there.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I do not use self-checkout. I tried it once and was nearly in a panic because the robot was ordering me to do things faster than I was able. 😡 Besides, I like the conversations with the checkers in our store. Lots of laughing! And if I have anything heavy or bulky in my cart, they come right around the counter to scan it. I know I’m a dinosaur, but I like making contact with humans, not machines.

    Love the shot you got of the Bluejay snagging his peanut…and how nicely he waited in line for it! The Smokey’s are a riot going right to your door so you don’t have to walk too far! How thoughtful of them.

    Old Glory is right in her element waving in the wind. I love the feeling of pride I get every time I see our flag.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think stores understand the value the checkout personnel provide. People are often picking on the lack of social skills young people have, but the little store we use has always hired high school kids, and you can almost see them become more comfortable with people. These are subtle changes technology brings along with it.

      The larger of the two Smokeys in that photo will come and knock on the door. It’s so funny. We open the door and he’s there like a kid out for trick or treat. The blue jays fly in from who knows where, but they are amazingly accurate when the peanuts are in the yard. They seem a little confused on the porch, where they mostly have to walk/hop around.

      Old Glory seems to enjoy the wind. I hope you have a great weekend, Ginger!


  7. I always go to self checkout, Dan. With my own grocery bags. So my OCD self can pack groceries the way I want to. It’s from too many bad baggers that put clinky glass jars together or overfill one bag with three items in the second bag. You know what I mean. I like the self checkout lanes at our mega grocery store that are like the regular people lanes where there is a long conveyor belt and I can pack groceries without having a voice tell me to hurry up and take my stuff. It’s a lot less stress. Otherwise, yeah, they don’t give you much room for the big stuff.

    Have a wonderful weekend, Dan!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow! I’ve never seen one like you describe that are large enough for a big order. Ours are such tiny stations, and the bagging area is anemic. I like some of them, and I do understand the problem bagger syndrome, but I usually beat them to the punch. We still like to put meat and frozen items in a plastic bag (we buy them at Costco) in case they leak or sweat. I put them on the belt last, and I snag them as they come down.

      Have a great weekend, Mary!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I love self-checkout, but I food shop with cash so I have to check to see which checkouts (in WalMart) take cash and which take card only. One store lets you load your bags in your cart, as needed, but another makes you keep everything on that teeny tiny ‘loadind dock.’ It gets confusing… And buying liquor in Target through the self-checkout is a no-go. They have to card you. Give me a break. With all those cameras they have everywhere, surely someone can say, “Give her the Snoop Dog Red–she’s of age.” 🍷😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha – seriously, you would think they would know you by now. Our cashiers have to scan everybody’s license when buying alcohol (they can only sell beer in groceries stores for now). I did make the mistake of scanning a 12-pack at the self-checkout. You’d have thought I was stealing the crown jewels. I like the self-serve stations, but when they don’t give you enough room, it invites comments like David’s.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I am annoyed by the fact we now have self check-out even while I understand the need with the lack of staff. I use it depending on the lines. I’m a fast scanner and can easily find the items with no bar code so I am in and out of there rather quickly. I will NOT, however, use it if I have a full basket. Way too annoying.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I agree about the self-checks. And why, if it reduces employee costs, doesn’t the retailer pass those savings onto the customers? Things to ponder. Great use of the prompt, and love the photos, Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thansk Jan. To answer your very good question, it’s for the same reason ATMs never reduced the cost of doing banking and self-serve gas pumps never reduced the cost of gas.

      I just had an email exchange with the folks at YouTubeTV. They are raising prices because the cost of content is going up. I asked why they didn’t lower prices when they dropped the MLB Network – I did NOT get an answer.

      I hope you have a nice weekend – I hope you met your goal and enjoy that festival next week.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m not a fan of self check out, but that seems to be the way things are going. Maybe it will get better. Can’t say I’m exactly a fan of Skippy, but sometimes I feel like a defender of Skippy. Great blue jay shot!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Most places that use self checkout terminals could make them much more pleasant to interact with. Some have chosen to maximize the defense against customers stealing. I avoid those terminals if I can. Brad is actually the inspiration for Skippy. I’m going to give him the opportunity to explain (if he so chooses) why we might all have Skippy wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Out here you can’t use the auto checkout if you’re buying alcohol and so we rarely have that option. During the pandemic we got into the habit of only going to the grocery once a week and so far have been unable to break it!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Ha! I love the prompt. Dan, it looks like your self-checkout topic struck a chord with many readers. In my experience, the only time those things were good for me, was the rare times when I was buying only one item and it did not have to be weighed or age-verified. Otherwise, it’s to the cashier for me.
    All the critters are looking good. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Teagan. The self-checkout can make for a quick and painless exit, but some of the stores have them configured so tight to prevent theft, that they are a pain to use. I understand they have to be careful, but when they make shopping so much harder, it’s not worth it. Smokey sends a little squirrel hug your way.


  14. Pizza sounded good. I love the self-checkouts. Makes it a breeze to get out. Haven’t tried one at the grocery but like the Home Depot ones where I’m still authorized to shop. Fun photos, Dan. Especially liked the blue Jay and Smoky.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Home Depot does self-checkouts well, John. they are convenient, they work well, and you don’t have to move heavy/awkward stuff around. Every grocery store manager should visit a Home Depot or Target before configuring their machines.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. If the last three years has taught us anything it is that we can survive without human contact. I don’t want to! I want someone, a cashier, to look me up in the eye and say good morning and have a nice day. I crave contact. I think deep down we all do. And I hate self-serve!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. It’s nice the blue jay has good manners and is waiting for Smokey to make a dining decision. Our blue jays are for the most part terrorists who will take on humans and other animals alike. Perhaps we should offer them pizza as a sign we are not active threats. The self-checkout installations continue here as well, even now in Wawa convenience stores. It actually makes them convenient!


  17. I’m torn on the self-checkout lanes too. I enjoyed your photos this week – the power line redo is quite the show. It looks windy there, but the flag looks great. Wow, that’s quite the deck party you’ve got going on with the squirrels and the blue jays! Do you have tips on how you’ll wean them off for the summer or will you still feed them?


  18. Hi Dan, I’ve used self checkout in the UK and New Zealand. We don’t have it here. People need jobs and there would be huge riots if any were replaced by machines. We have petrol attendants too which I like. I can never remember where the lever for the bonnet is – haha!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I wish we had those attendants here, Robbie. All of those jobs were good places for students to get some experience, and for adults to augment their income. People that work there full time have some ongoing opportunities. Now, that is all drying up. I use the self-checkouts when they are configured to make my shopping experience better. When they are configured to have me do the work of a clerk with maximum security so shopping is a pain in the butt, I’d rather skip it.

      Liked by 1 person

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