"Please place item in bagging area."
It probably speaks to how inconsequential of a whine this is that I can't remember the exact wording of this device, but something that drove me into a fit of rage this Sunday was the self-checkout at GENERIC GROCERY STORE. I often use this device. Not because it is a preferred destination, but because it is, in theory, quicker. The absence of people should be a warning beacon rather than a calling card, but I suppose I've never been one to stray from the unwandered path.
"Please wait for attendant."
Obviously, in the grand scheme of things, having to wait an extra five minutes isn't a problem. It's a little more annoying here than it would usually be, because this machine strings you on. Because you're one produce selection away from getting the hell out of here and instead a robot tells you that your last item needs to be in a bagging area that it already occupies. Four or five times in a row.
Now of course, these things happen. If you are me, you make preening dramatic gestures. You hold your hands out. You talk to the machine like it can hear you. And usually that is that and you go about your business.
However, because my mind has been in such a crazy state of conflict between logic and emotion lately, everything just boiled over. In that moment, especially, I could see the reflection of myself in everything. The juxtaposition of my circuitry and this device. That I was waiting for something that wasn't going to come, and still stood here asking for it again and again. Please place the life we had in the bagging area.
And, on my infrequent trips inside the depths of my own mind, I grew that with a lot of self-condescension and pitying remarks, toyed with it for a bit, and put it away. "This machine just needs to be fixed, but it never happens. Why can't this machine just catch a break?" and so on. I think about just punching the machine. Shattering it so that nobody has to watch their credit card get declined or wait for an attendant to clear them ever again. Is that a criminal offense? I wonder what it would be like to try to write about the NFL from Belize. Or maybe the Philippines.
And I breathe. And a few minutes later I am outside the store. Leaving the same shitty self-checkout to piss off the next person it encounters. It's an embedded part of my personality to look over the cliff sometimes, and I'm not completely sure why ... asides from the fact that it's the human condition. My best guess is that if I see something bad enough down there, it will be enough to motivate me to the perfection that I'll never attain. That I'll suddenly stop being bitter about being snubbed by someone before I really should be. That I'll have terrific body language and make all the connections I need in life. That I'll care about music like I did when I was 23, care about video games like I did when I was 16, be as charming as I was at eight, and still be able to care about the actual world I live in with the same gusto. That when I'm through hanging out with someone, I won't come back to the house and immediately be saddened by the absence of unconditional love that has yet to re-appear.
I never do actually see it, though. I just see logic. Cold, hard, logic. It looks like an armadillo. It tells me that there is a cost for everything.
It asks me to select a payment method.
So, if you want to submit a question to the Battle Red Bag, here is the procedure you should follow:
1) You should shoot an email to rivers (dot) mccown (at) gmail (dot) com.
2) Said e-mail should contain a question. For instance, you could ask me what I'd name a cat. Or, if you have a little more confidence in me, you could ask me a question that has some deeper meaning in your life. Or you could do what you did last week. Again.
3) You should put a subject in your email that is something like "Bag Question," "Battle Red Bag," "Question for Bag," or "Take an Extra 15% Off All Clearance Already 60-80% Off" to ensure that I read it.
4) You should wait a reasonable number of days. A week. Maybe 8 days. 9 if I really hit a wall.
5) You should read the answers to your questions next week. It will be enlightening. You can do it without pants if you want to. Nobody's judging you here.
(Please, no questions about Football Outsiders-related statistics or content. Thanks!)