Bring Back the Cashiers

Long ago, our neighborhood grocery store had friendly checkout cashiers who while totaling up our purchases, would talk of the weather, their planned vacation and your plans, and you could unload your sad story of the day or what you read in the morning paper. Friendly communication was the norm.

Then one day it was announced that our American-owned grocery store was being sold to a foreign conglomerate, and said conglomerate would improve service and the quality of merchandise. It began by getting rid of most of the long-term employees.

Then many of the checkout stations disappeared and in their place stood a large square box containing electronics where one could -- by inserting your cash or credit card and manipulating some buttons -- check yourself out faster and more efficiently than using the human being that you were accustomed to. Nonsense.

Please, foreign-owned store, give me back my human-being checker-outer. One store manager recently told me, "These machines are the future for all stores, because Americans won't work for long hours and low wages." Well, duh. Doesn't this then call for paying Americans a decent, livable wage?

My complaint is that these big computer cans are not customer-friendly. They don't say hello or even smile at me. (I think they hate me, which is okay with me. I hate them, too.) Face it. I am electronically challenged. When VCRs appeared, I had to borrow a neighbor's 8-year-old to hook up and program the darn thing. It was worse when CD players arrived. I aged 30 years overnight from the mental strain and I'm now 106.

I suggest that grocery stores leave things as they were, with people-friendly human cashiers, and I'm proposing that everyone over 50 join me in petitioning these foreign conglomerate food barons to leave our stores alone. They're one of the last bastions of togetherness left, except the corner barber shop. We'll shop at any store that gives us what we want: a neighborhood store that really is neighborly. So there.

Elmer M. Savilla