One of the latest waves of convenience in the retail world is self-serve checkout.
Conceptually, these are the exact same counters that cashiers operate, only without the cashier (job creation at its
The customer then scans, swipes, and bags his or her own way right out of the store, supposedly quicker than if a trained professional with a foreknowledge of the system and codes would be able to. For every child who fantasized about becoming a cashier, but just didn’t have the resume to crack the Wal-Mart starting line-up, your dreams are finally within your grasp.
Now, as great of a time and cost saving idea this appears to be, my experiences have generally been a combination of items not scanning, items scanning but not recognizing the item code, having to find a clerk, clerk calling for a price check, getting the clerk to punch in the code, card errors, and generally having to call staff over to help, while pretty much taking more time than it would to grin and bear the lineup for a cashier.
I swear to you, that this is how my last interaction went at a self-serve, while my friend Jeff bought ONE (1) pack of batteries, with a manager supervising/hovering (wouldn’t this job be better served by taking a few steps to the right, and just manning the machine?) the over the operation:
Me: “ So is this self-serve thing really faster than going through the normal check-out procedure (pointing to 2 or 3 customer-less tills)?”
Manager: “Oh yes, definitely.”
Jeff attempts to scan his item multiple times, and places it on the weigh scale used to identify the item by…err… weight, I guess.
Jeff: “Umm…why isn’t it scanning?”
Manager: “Hold on, let me try.” No success. “Ok, I’m going to have to do this one manually.” Type type type. “Ok, swipe your card.”
Jeff swipes. Card error. He swipes again, another error. A third error occurs and we have to start again. Jeff rescans the item. The machine chooses to believe he wants about 5 of the same item. Void the transaction. Start again. Item on the scale. Code re-typed. Item self bagged, and then transaction finally complete after solving another card issue, all in the time that saw a handful of other customers make their merry way through the other counters, issue free.
As we walked out the doors, the smirk on my face while I made eye contact with the manger and the other staff who had spectated the debacle was all the words I needed to express my thoughts on this latest technology of speed and convenience.
I understand that people want things faster and quicker in our pace quickening culture. I include myself in this category. But this is one situation that:
A) Does not perform its task of speeding up the purchase process.
B) Takes away a job from a person when unemployment is on the rise.
Granted, a cashier position is not the most glorious and sought after position, and I understand that businesses need to cut a few corners to survive sometimes. However, this is one situation where it’s still worth signing that extra pay cheque for someone to do the job efficiently so customers don’t go home and write blogs telling people about the stupid system their store has.
Are we still at the point, as people, that we must continue to put disclaimers like this on things? Are there really people who continue to put carnival tokens in parking meters, even though the tokens themselves usually cost a quarter a piece to purchase them from the amusement park? Are folks travelling to countries where their home country’s currency is more valuable than the visited country, collecting the coins, bringing them back, and attempting to save a few pennies by depositing the coins in the meter that most closely resemble their domestic coins? Is someone tying a string to a coin, dropping it in for the credit, and then pulling it out again (technically, this wouldn’t be a violation of the warning, as long as a valid coin was used)? 100 Scandia tokens say that all of the above are indeed continuing to take place, somewhere.
No manufacturer, retailer, distributor, sales office, middle-man, factory outlet, or online store continues to sell products that end up as garbage than the company known as Nexxtech. Primarily an electronics brand, their junk is sold out of The Source by Circuit City (the former RadioShack), usually in locales of convenience like a mall that feature no other electronic outlets for you to “shop around” for competing products and prices. I’ve been burned on enough products now to know that the amount you do save on their abnormally low product prices just does not justify the means that becomes seeing your purchase break down and decide to no longer operate juuuuust as the warranty expires. Your broken hunk of crap usually ends up trash down at the bottom of the can by the receipt you forgot to keep anyways.
I found this advertisement in a recent edition of Popular Mechanics. I promise you, I have not altered it in any way.
So the guys are sitting around board room at FNH Firearms, trying to come up with their latest advertising campaign. They eventually decide that the demographic they want to capture the attention of is the mobster/shady back-room deal crowd that features people hiding guns in their desk drawer, and/or the freshly inked suicide note at the desk and about to end it all people. I guess, besides rappers, criminals and people killing themselves, who else is carrying handguns? And which of these aforementioned parties are actually purchasing these guns legally?
This motion is APPROVED by company. They then PAY MONEY to see it ran in print. Magazines such as Popular Mechanics (I only saw it in their magazine, so far) that have been successful for many years, and can probably pass on a few advertising campaigns and still make money, also make the conscious decision that this is the ad they want featured in their magazine.
Since September 13, the most talked about entertainment news story has been the drama of Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. While hearing the same repeated sentiments of what a sorry excuse for a human being Kayne is, I decided to do a little deeper research into the matter. Without a doubt, it was a dickard move, on Kanye’s part. However, while doing a little digging, there are a few small nuggets of information that I haven’t heard brought to the public’s attention. Let me present a couple of different angles on the incident that you may not have considered.
Kanye West raps and produces under the Roc-A-Fella Records (founded by Jay-Z) label, which is owned by Def Jam Records, which is in turn owned by Universal Music Group. Taylor Swift makes music for Big Machine Records, which has its records distributed by the same Universal Music Group. Intrinsically, Kanye West are “label-mates.”
While I don’t put controversy schemes past Kanye, don’t write off Swift as the innocent victim quite yet, this isn’t her first encounter with hip-hop. She collaborated with rapper T-Pain on a remix of her own song at the CMT Music Awards in June 2009, called “Thug Story.” [ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L52emsayp1o ] T-Pain has appeared on more than one song with Kanye, collaborating on songs like “Good Life” (which won a Grammy in 2007), and “Go Hard” (2008). I doubt very much that Kanye hadn’t heard of Taylor Swift before this night. T-Pain raps for Jive Records, who are owned by Sony Music Entertainment, who also happen to house Beyonce via Columbia Records. More on her later…
Everyone talked about how that night at the MVA’s was Taylor Swift’s “moment”, but lets be honest, she only won “Best FEMALE Video”, not “Video of the Year” (which is open to BOTH genders). I mean, sure it’s an accomplishment, but it’s not like she was taking home the award of the night by at any rate. And when did the trophies from an MTV Awards show become so career-altering anyways?
Beyonce “saved face” after Kanye proclaimed her as the deserving winner of the award; and had Taylor come on stage and say her thank-you’s during Beyonce’s own acceptance speech; a classy move [ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOIOanr3JOo ]. Oddly, Beyonce and Swift seemed to be wearing the same dress. Anyone who knows much about music gossip knows that Beyonce is (allegedly) married to Kanye West’s boss, Jay-Z, who just so happens to have just released and touring with his latest album, “Blueprint 3.” Also, Kanye did produce Beyonce’s 2003 album “Dangerously in Love,” as well as 6 Jay-Z albums. Coincidence?
I thought Jay would have been cursing the day that he ever let Kanye West out of the production studio and into the public eye when he heard about the incident at the VMA’s. But while Donald Trump called for a boycott of all things Kanye West, every musician and every news show on TV and radio wrote off Kanye and labeled him as an alcoholic and spotlight nympho, and even The President of the F’n United States of America, Barack Obama, called ‘Ye “a jackass” [ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=078BGtKNL1o ], Jigga stepped up to defend Kanye, saying, “He didn’t kill anybody…” agreeing that the outburst was “inappropriate at the time.” He also added Kanye’s “just a super-passionate person… Of course it was rude because it was (Taylor’s) moment but that’s the way he really felt…..I think it was rude but the way they’re treating him… He’s on the cover of every paper…He didn’t kill anybody. No one got harmed.” [http://www.mtv.ca/vma/2009/article.jhtml?id=20490] The only other person I know who has mentioned anything in Kanye’s defence is my friend, Andy Smith, over at “Smithy Blogs,” who wrote this blog http://tinyurl.com/smithkanyeblog that you can read on your own time.
Kanye has since apologized publicly numerous times, and Swift “eventually” accepted the “sorry.” So, how long, would you say, will we have to wait for the duets and album collaborations and guest apperances between them? My guess is that Universal and Sony Music are way ahead of us. In a time where record companies are losing piles of money in CD sales, learning how to profit off of digital downloads, and throwing lawsuits at people who download illegally, is it that crazy to think that two record companies would thrust a few very marketable individuals into the spotlight to generate an enormous media buzz to, in turn, boost sales? Bad press for Kanye, good press for Swift; and everyone’s talking and writing about them both. No press is bad press, right?
Kanye is a jackass though.
My hometown of Kelowna, BC has decided to adopt HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) Lanes, aka carpool lanes. It’s the stupidest idea our local government has come up with in a long time.
On paper, in an ideal environment, HOV Lanes are a good idea. They
promote carpooling, which theoretically sees less cars on the road, which theoretically leads to less traffic congestion and less pollution. I get that. It’s a great idea. On paper.
It works in big cities like Vancouver; they’ve got a zillion highways for an equal amount of residents, and plenty of places to divert traffic to. Kelowna simply does not have the extra space on its ONE main highway to allow only a select group of people to occupy 1/3 of the traffic space, not to mention in the area of the highest traffic volume in the city. If we had a 4 or 5 lane freeway complete with exit ramps, this might work, but we only have 3 lanes with normal traffic-light controlled intersection turn-offs. Every HOV Lane I’ve ever seen is located in the far left lane; Kelowna decided that the far right lane was the best option. This forces drivers to make potentially dangerous lane changes into the HOV lane to make right turns before crossing through an intersection, amidst the absurdly short distances between our lights.
Citizens watched, waited, and anticipated all summer while construction crews built an additional lane onto Highway 97. Everyone believed there was relief in sight for the gridlock traffic that resides on Harvey Avenue. I have not encountered one person in the city yet who was happy when they heard, “Suprise! Only some of you get to use the extra space! And if you dare use it without having people in your car, or you’re not a bus or semi, we’re going to give you a ticket! Oh, and also, we’re introducing a new tax called the HST! Enjoy!”
Everyone who gets up early to go to work on their own, who doesn’t live anywhere near anyone else who they work with, and lives too far away from their place of employment to bike, and doesn’t have a bus system near them better leave some extra time in the morning to get to work. Wait, that’s pretty much everyone in the city? Oh. Better get to bed early tonight then. Like I said, it’s a good idea on paper, but our city simply isn’t accessible enough by means other than our cars to allow for such drastic changes in our commuting schedules.
Another feather in the cap of the cluster**** that is Kelowna infrastructure and traffic. They better not use taxpayer money to buy the staggering amount of paint thinner they’re going to need to take the white paint out of that lane in a few months. On the lighter side, I can’t wait to see the first person driving with a dummy seatbelted into their passenger seat to avoid a ticket.
Dear Soccer People,
So you’ve got the most popular sport globally, soccer (football for the purists). Though I doubt the research sometimes, I’ve heard the stat so many times I guess there’s got to be some truth to it. You sell-out stadiums every night, and sometimes you riot because you’re into it so deep. You got passion, I dig that.
Your game doesn’t differ conceptually that much from similiar sports (get the ______ in the other team’s ______ ), but that doesn’t mean it isn’t tough. Playing some pick-up soccer myself has re-inforced this to me. If you haven’t noticed by now, just because the pro’s on TV in ANY sport make it look easy, doesn’t mean you can do it that well in your half-time beer-and-smoke-break league. Just like any sport, it takes a lot of skill and effort to be any good at soccer. Minus the diving.
BUT still, with all that being said, please soccer players… if you listen to only one thing I say in this whole blog, let it be this:
Your sport contains THE BIGGEST NET IN SPORTS.
I realize that goals in soccer come on an average of 2 or 3 a month, but just because you finally punted that borderline beach-ball size of inflated rubber into netting which could corral a beluga whale, past the guy with no over-sized padding, does NOT mean your backflip is warranted. Hey, scoring is cool, heck it’s one of the best feelings there is to feel. But honestly, the fewer airplane spins and power knee-slides I see, the better. I don’t, for one
second, approve of the baby thumb-sucking celebration i’ve seen on a few occasions. Also why do soccer players feel the need to rip off their jerseys when they score a big goal? That jersey is a sense of pride in most sports. The difference between hockey players and soccer players is that while soccer players don’t want their jerseys on and rip them off, hockey players grab their crest and shake it like a polaroid they’re so happy to have it on their chest. Some hockey teams will actually fine their players for letting their jerseys touch the floor in the dressing room they’re so serious about respecting the uniform.
Scoring in hockey is unbelievably tough at the top levels. The net is small, and most goaltenders are large humans to begin with, AND THEN they put on their pads, filling in and spilling over any “holes” that may have previously been present; likening your scoring chances to moustaches ever being actually, really, cool again. You gotta be really good to pull either situation off. So hockey goals deserve a big celly (celebration), but even the rockpiles (rookies) know not to go too far. Fist pump: yes. Stick ride: No. Ice duster with a follow-up pumper-nickle: time and a place. Canoe paddle: Don’t bother suiting up next game.
Football players gotta grind those TD’s out. There’s some big, bad mamma-jamma’s out there that really don’t want you in their end. There’s some huge meathead football players, but even the best teams have a tough time getting it in field goal range against a defensive line named after large kitchen appliances. So Terrell, I say flap your wings. Throw the grenades and blow your team up. Dirty bird, get derrrty. You’ve earned it.
Basketball is well aware that even though they have the smallest net in team sports, it’s just not that big of a challenge when the telephone-pole sized players can literally start placing the ball in the net for over 100 points a game. Even the dunkers are aware of the frequency of conversion. Rarely do you see a basket celebration, and with good reason.
So soccer players, in conclusion, I enjoy your game, but never forget NO ONE IN SPORTS HAS A BIGGER NET THAN YOU.
The only exception I will allow to this rule is the header goal, or that bicycle kick. These might be the toughest goals in sports to score, and to that I say climb the goal post and pick the coconuts for all I care, you deserve it. Hopefully my British friends haven’t disowned me. Remember, I’m not attacking soccer as a whole, just the over-sensationalized celebrations to goal size ratio, that’s all. Just keep it all in perspective. This is all I ask.
What is it about the human aging process that makes regular people turn into “Old People”? Not just people who are ahead of you in numerical age; I’m talking about the porch chair rocking, cane waving, youth denouncing, old bags that hate everything that isn’t familiar. It’s not all of them (my grandparents have a cell phone, can email, and are some of the nicest folks you’ll ever meet), but it is a startling and unfortunate majority. Is it the progress? Is everything just moving too fast nowadays? Is everything just too loud? Why do we always have to speak up around you then? Are rock n’ roll, and backwards hats really signs of the apocalypse?
I’ve had some experience living amongst old people. Shortly after graduating from high school, I lived with my friend Jeff (http://jeff-bourne.webs.com/) in a “Retirement Castle,” as I liked to call it. Jeff has Spina Bfida, a condition that confines him to a wheelchair. The facility was the best option for his accessibility. It required enough arm-twisting for them to allow him to live at this place; you can imagine what hell had come loose when word got out that a perfectly healthy and able-bodied young person was moving in as well. The stink-eyes, the glares, the turning and hiding of purses while passing women in the hall, and the all too constant reminders of resident rules would’ve been enough for Milton from Office Space to burn down the building and then retreat to Mexico, were all daily encounters from day one.
Probably the most insane incident at this place occurred in the games room. A nice, typical, old person’s game room; it included shuffleboard, billiards, and the likes. I used it from time to time, and one day I had a friend over to join me for a game of pool. We broke, got a few shots in, and were having a good time, when all of a sudden, Marshall (the Strata President) walked in. I greeted him, and introduced my friend. Marshall had no time for my pleasantries. We were promptly presented with a verbal declaration of strata rules, chapter 6, section 2, subsection ix, paragraph 16 (I think that’s what it was) that clearly stated: The games room is for residents only. No guests are allowed to participate in activities that the games room provides. With all due respect Mr. President (a formality, my due to him in the respect category was zero), HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND? Unfortunately I only made this a mental statement. So for the next few minutes, while no one else but the three of us were in the room, Marshall watched us while I played the rest of the game, and made sure that my friend was not participating in pool, or anything else. I swear to you, I am not making this up.
After my wife and I got married, we rented out my older brother’s condo, in a Strata-complex. Though not an official retirement home, you’d be hard pressed to prove it based on the residents. There were a few nice folks, but the general consensus was pretty much the same as before.
One of the paranoia progressions this place had made was the lobby and underground parking security cameras; and the ability to watch them from one of the digital cable stations, in the comfort of their quintuple locked, shades-drawn, homes. They also felt the need to post a minion resident in a chair by the doors that the cameras viewed, just for added security, and likely, gossip.
The main entrance of the building featured foyer style access. There was a primary door that was always unlocked, and then a second set of doors that required key card admittance. From time to time, I did not have my key, for whatever reason. And also, from time to time, there would be one of these old people, sitting in the chair, minding the door. More than once, I asked for some assistance from the person to simply grant me admission; in lieu of calling up stairs and waiting for the buzz in. It’s not exactly sound proof glass, and anyone could have figured out the pantomime motions I was making. On pretty well all of these occasions though, the person I requested aid from was… less than helpful. The cold glares that came through that glass towards me, and the pretend reading they would be doing while I politely asked for probably the lowest level of assistance available… it was infuriating. I heard this same story from a few of our visitors as well.
In the wintertime, salt and sand naturally collect on a person’s car while driving on any city roads. When this same person parks in their underground parking spot with said accumulation, their spot is, of course, going to be dirty. One day after returning home, I got a whole earful quoted to me from the resident rulebook (probably the same one from the other place) that stipulated in another rabbit-hole of strata code, how clean my parking space was to be kept at all times. According to the book, I was required to sweep my spot regularly, or I may lose my spot altogether. I may have verbally agreed with the given citation, but I’ll have you know I never touched that broom from that day on (nor did I before).
Our condo did not have a working dryer, so we dried our clothes either at the Laundromat, or out on our deck. When we took them outside, we put our clothes on hangers and drying racks. After the very first time we did this, we received a note under our door the next day; stating that we were in violation of a Strata rule that said nothing was to be visible from decks that could be seen by anyone, so people wouldn’t think less of the strata as a result of it. First of all, it’s not like they were bad clothes. Second, there was one sliver of the highway visible from our view. There’s NO WAY anyone was seeing them, and/or reporting on the trashy looking disposition of our “great” condo. That warning found its way into the recycling bin quite quickly.
I think the Strata arrangement gives old people the last grip they have on any responsibility and expectation. They’re either assigned to, or volunteer for a job, and they do it to the best of their abilities. They may or may not even want to be living there. Perhaps their independence was taken away before they believed it should have been. That’s unfortunate if that’s the case, but it doesn’t mean that they need to make people younger than them miserable while they attempt to co-habitate in the same building as them. Like I mentioned, there are some really great seniors out there, but man are there some awful ones too. Now if I could just get our next door neighbours to turn that music down…
What exactly is the deal with “Joey’s Only” seafood restaurants? Are only people named Joey allowed to eat there? If that’s true, what about Joe’s, and Joseph’s? Do they check ID’s at the counter prior to ordering? That’s gotta be a bad business decision, if it’s what’s going on. Somehow I doubt it. Perhaps does it mean that “Joey” is the inventor, and his place “Only” serves seafood? That seems to make more sense. The sign really doesn’t make the true explantation clear. One of these days I’m actually gonna go there and see if they serve me or not.
Does anyone else take an extra second when they’re eating an apple and they peel off the sticker to consider the fact that they’re going to be eating glue when they get to that section of the apple? Do you give that area an extra buff with your shirt, or just choke it down carefree? How about when you drink a juice box, and you puncture that little circular foil cover with the straw… ever wonder what happens to that piece of foil?
What’s the appeal of the overly loud and obnoxious motorcycle? Those things make my ears ring from the moment they pass me until the moment I can’t see them anymore, and I’m a distance from them. How deaf does a motorcyclist have to be sitting directly on that noise, after coming home after a day’s ride, or after completing a trip that lasted a few hours?
Sure, you look real tough, wearing all that roasting hot and tight black leather, sporting that little skull helmet that meets about as many safety standard requirements as the Jofa helmet that Gretzky used to wear. Is that the whole payoff? The image? Is it worth holding your arms up like the Karate Kid for extended periods of time, or hunching over on one of those (for lack of a better term) “crotch rockets”? I understand the whole biker subculture thing, and if you’re a legit badass or just love to ride, that’s one thing, but there’s just so many mid-life crises/non badasses out there that I just can’t rationalize the lifestyle change for.
As far as bike brand, you really gotta go Harley or go home. I’m sure there are good competing brands out there; probably some better ones in a lot of aspects, but Harley Davidson’s are the absolute measuring stick when it comes to motorcycles. So if you’re over 40 and looking to “shake things up”, make sure you pony up the whole way. Everyone’s gotta take that road test sometime, wearing the reflective vest, with the car following them. If you’re gonna look like a idiot riding a motorcycle just for one day, better make sure you do it on a legit hog.
Those things are not light either, I almost dropped my dad’s in the garage just sitting stationary on it once, when he used to have one. With that level of investment, I really don’t need that responsibility/insurance liability resting on my infrequent gym appearances.
Personally, I’d much rather sit in a comfy car with a stereo, the ability to hear my passengers, keep bugs out of my face, stay warm, recline, have a drink and set it in a cup holder, not have my vehicle fall over when it’s parked, and to generally lessen my chance of dying. But that’s just me. If bikes are your bag, then ride on…