Beware of automation

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I was reading a few pieces on the supposed pros and cons of self-checkout lanes this past week, and one thing that immediately struck me was all, save one, of the authors debated if anyone still frequented a bricks-and-mortar store other than, maybe, fine dining or a coffee shop?

Bias alert, I say “supposed” because, in my humble opinion, there are no pros to using self-checkout lanes, or any automated way of making your purchase.

This is why after one look around the fabled Tim Hortons when it first arrived, I’ve never purchased a Tim Hortons coffee in Rankin Inlet, nor will I ever.

It’s not like anything I do is going to change much here, but as long as we keep accepting fifth-rate service and goods, that’s exactly what we’ll continue to receive.

There’s not a single time my blood doesn’t boil when a free-shipping-anywhere-in-Canada advertisement appears on my TV, knowing sometimes we’re not even looked upon as fellow Canadians in our own country – or I pay about $125 to ship something under warranty to an American supplier and it ships it back for $27 US.

I stare at my airline tickets when someone asks how much it costs to fly home to Cape Breton without buying someone’s Aeroplan points – a practice I will begin in late 2019 – and I answer $2,749.66 – which breaks down to $573.66 round-trip from Winnipeg, Man., to Sydney, N.S., and $2,176.65 round-trip from Winnipeg, Man., to Rankin Inlet, NU.

Before the recent death of my Mom (I so miss you), I went home to spend summer vacation with her every year, and the past few years – as the sand in our hourglass of togetherness was running painfully low – I travelled home to spend our final few Christmas Days together.

The two trips combined is a cost of more than four times from Rankin to the Peg, as the Peg to Sydney. Just not right and don’t give a damn what anyone says.

So, yes, I’m a little touchy when it comes to a machine taking away someone’s job, and some damn company that’s already fleecing me with the price – not only expecting me to aid its corporate greed, and contribute to a member of the working class losing his or her job (like that will ever happen) – but actually thinking I’m going to allow it to train me to do the work myself for free!

When I’m in larger stores with self-checkout lanes, I often wait in the cashier lane next to them, pull out the cool little photo of a Mom and daughter that came with the wallet, and ask those using the machines if they’d like to meet the single parent who lost their job to them and their lovely daughter?

Oh, I shudder to think if looks could kill, but it is gratifying the number of them who glare at me as they join my line.

And, I would also offer a word of caution if you find yourself around the actual machines in those self -checkout lanes.

If they’re the ones in a single row with the plugs visible behind them – or those charged ones where six or seven share the same terminal and those connectors all flow along the bottom – you can easily get all-tangled up in those darn things if you’re not paying attention.

I’ve heard it’s not pleasant, especially if you get all panic stricken, wrap-yourself up even worse around them and start pulling away trying to get free.

I can only imagine that must be almost as traumatizing as those people who walk the line inside the airport – you know, in front of the three check-in counters of their airline where there used to be seven – and come-up to say you “must” use the automatic check-in machine.

Well, I can guess that’s pretty traumatizing for someone involved!