By Roger Paradiso
I went into a CVS last week. There was no one at any of the registers. I felt like I was in The Twilight Zone. I called out. A voice told me to use the self-check. I stared at that worthless piece of AI and dread entered into my soul. Was I going to contribute to the loss of a worker’s job? I called out again. She said, “I’m the only clerk in the store. Use the self-check. It’s easy.”
That’s all I needed to hear. It was easy. Oh yeah, I’ll show you how easy it can be. You see, technology and me aren’t a good mix.
I approached the machine with a rush, hoping to scare it to hell and back. That didn’t work. I read the instructions and heard that AI voice that sounded like a soulless avatar from some science fiction movie. I pushed all sorts of digital buttons and scanned the product every which way but up. The damn thing wasn’t working.
I was starting to land some good punches to this AI robot. Good thing there were no other people in the store, and especially not a police officer. I gave it a final kick in the nuts and bolts and was contemplating the existential concept of stealing the product, since the AI didn’t work, when I heard a human voice. “Can I help you?” I looked around and thought I saw a hot model in red boots, but as my eyes refocused, I saw an old grandma about my age. “Yes, you can,” I said, as I moved to her register. “Couldn’t figure out the self-check?” she asked. “Oh no,” I said. “I figured it out. I’m saving your job.” She smiled and took the product, pointed to the credit card machine, and before you could say, “Have a good day,” I was out of there.
That’s what I like. A human at the other end of a transaction. It sort of makes me feel we’re going to be all right in the future. Let the revolution begin or hunger games begin. Whatever. I got out of the store before the cops came and checked on the busted self-check AI robot. Just another day in the Wild West digital age.