I grabbed my stuff, and got into those "do it yourself" lines. I've gotten to the point where I can do them very quickly, so it does save me time. Unfortunately, I usually have someone in front of me who has no clue how to use them, and would be better off standing in a regular line.
Today I have a guy in front of me, with quite a few items. This guy, while probably in his late 20's, early 30's, seemed strong, healthy, and of at least average, if not above average, intelligence.
He got the scanning stuff okay... I advised him that the best thing to do is to hold the item so the barcode is either on the oposite side of your hand, or on the bottom. The selfserves have two scanners...either one will work fine. And, I also advised him not to immitate the casheirs and wave the item in front of the scanner several times. These seem to work best if you just hold them up steady.
He thanked me and scanned his items. I bagged some of them, which he thought was very nice of me, but in truth... well, I wanted him to get finished so I could buy my stuff and leave. But, I took the thank you.
Then, came coupon time. He pulls out this wad of coupons. And it's clear from the wad, that he has probably never used a coupon in his life, but his wife/girlfriend/life partner is proably fanatically into coupons... so when he got elected to do the shopping, he/she gave him this huge wad and threatened his life and/or genitals if he didn't use them. And she'll probably expect the recipt so she can make extra sure, he used every single one.
Well, he starts scanning the coupons, and we've already got a problem, because being ignorant to the entire world of grocery shopping, which I swear, could be taught in schools, he went sheerly on common sense, which is, "If they are out of a particular brand of whatever it is I need, just grab the store brand instead. It's cheaper!" Sound logic, except that now he's buying Stop and Shop Peanut butter, and he has a coupon for Jiff.
What the coupon junkies do, is go to the manager and gripe until the manager either A) finds a stash of the correct peanut butter in the back, B) gives them a raincheck or C) lets them take another brand of peanut butter, but lets them use the coupon for it anyway. Which means that when they check out there will be a manager override necessary, but the coupon junkies are well used to this. What a good coupon junkie never does is settle for another brand for which they cannot use the coupon.
He looks at me, because, well, I have these things that stick out of the front of my shirt that indicates I'm female, and therfore, I'm probably well versed in the art of Couponning, and says, "What do I do?"
The problem, being that I'm a complete amature. I rarely use coupons. I can find a lot better things to do with my time than clip out little rectangles of paper from magazines and newspapers... that's time I could well spend toturing my cats. Besides, I'm at the grocery store often enough, that I can check sales and usually do pretty good that way.
So, he's basically the blind, asking the severely nearsighted for help. And I kinda guide him along, in my understanding way. "Uh... you can't use that, you didn't buy that particular brand."
"Oh yeah.. so... uh... what do I do? They were totally out of Jiff."
"Either take the risk and don't use the coupon, or get the manager to take the peanutbutter off your bill and go home without peanut butter."
He debates this for a moment, and I guess he either likes peanut butter, or someone in the household likes peanutbutter more than he wants to please his coupon junkie lifepartner, because he decides he'll keep the peanut butter he scanned and CJ (Coupon Junkie) will just Have To Live With It.
I can almost see his thoughts saying, Besides, that couch isn't that uncomfortable to sleep on!
So, we get through that crisis... we figure out what coupons he's got that will actually work for what he's buying. I'd say he scores about a 75%, meaning only 25% of the products he bought did not have valid coupons. In my book, considering this is probably his first time in Magical Coupon Land, and he's got me for a guide, he did pretty darned good. He shoves the ones he can't use into his pocket, where no doubt they'll be a crumpled wad when he brings them home and the household CJ will iron them neatly and use them next week.
Now he has to dispose of the coupons he did use... and you do that by sticking them into this slot on the self serve register.
I may not be a coupon junkie, but I have used a couple before... and it's pretty easy. The slot is relatively large both in height and width compared to the average coupon. And, if you happen to have a larger coupon width wise than the slot allows for, you can fold the coupon in half and shove it in. The register doesn't care. All it cares about was that you scanned the barcode.
But, this guy was having trouble in the worst way. He just couldn't seem to get the coupon into the slot. He's fumbling, and fumbling, sticking it just above the slot, just below the slot, anywhere but in the slot. I watch with that sort-of embarassed feeling you get, embarassment for him, cause clearly, he's just not capable of doing this. And knowing that now his male ego is at stake, cause this is a relatively simple task, but he just can't do it... and the more I'm watching him, the worse he's getting and the more unable he is to do it.
So, I finally decide enough is enough. I am reluctant to touch strangers, and I don't like being touched myself, but I figure by this point, what with me helping him and all, that we had progressed beyond the point of strangers, we were having some weird blessed food shopping affair. So, I reached out, put my hand over his, and gently guided his hand to the slot, so he could put the coupon in.
His dark cheeks get slightly pale and red, but together, we get the coupon into the slot. Then he turns to me and goes, "Men always need help getting it in, don't we?"
I broke up laughing.
And I'm still laughing about it, even though I'm home and everything I bought is unpacked.