I was caught up in the hell of the self-service checkout

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I must begin this week with an apology. Sorry to all those people who had the misfortune to end up behind me in the self-service checkout queue at the supermarket last weekend.

I was in a hurry and it said ‘fast lane’ above the counter. I was only doing what they were all doing – trying to get through quickly.

It didn’t work out that way, but it wasn’t my fault, honest. I was the innocent victim of technology not working properly.

Nor was it the fault of the man in front of me, who was having similar problems negotiating the checkout.

While I turned the air blue when it was my turn, he just grunted. I think he was keeping his frustration locked deep within him, in a chamber that had iron bars around it, with giant padlocks and one of those red flashing laser things to burn anyone who got near.

I reckon that if he’d have actually said something, all that anger would have been unleashed on anyone who stood in his path.

Who would have guessed that something as simple as a self-service checkout could lead to such heightened emotions? Oh, the insane high as you find a barcode, it scans and the screen registers what you expect. Then the pits of despair as you discover the next item’s barcode is wrapped ingeniously into a fold of plastic, so only the most fantastic telescopic lens in the world – capable of looking at craters on Mercury – would be able to read it.

I’d never used one of these systems before, but all I had was a measly seven items. Seven. I foolishly thought it would be a breeze.

Yet it took me about 20 minutes to get through because the machine kept telling me I needed help.

Never have the words ‘seek assistance’ been so fully loaded with peril. Each time they flashed, those behind me visibly slumped, knees buckling at my apparent ineptitude.

I got out of there eventually, but not before a good rant and some choice words that shouldn’t really be used on a Saturday afternoon when families are present. Self-service, it transpires, needs an 18 rating.