It is a truth universally acknowledged by irate parents everywhere that there is little as frustrating in life as a self-service till.
Having done battle with one this afternoon, I am filled with venom for this heinous instrument of torture.
What kind of evil tormentor, I ask you, would invent a device with a scale at small-child-height?
A scale that decides whether or not you are trying to shoplift and a scale that is overly temperamental.
The self-service till looks innocent enough.
‘Come to me,’ it whispers, beguilingly.
‘Come to me and save that precious commodity of parents everywhere: time!’
Yet no sooner have you been seduced and approached the wanton temptress with your children at your side, than one of said offspring touches the scale and off it goes: UNFAMILIAR ITEM IN THE BAGGING AREA.
Cue much toing and froing of items: items on, items off, items squashed in rage.
Small children hovering, babbling incessant nonsense, threatening to put hands back in the bagging area.
God forbid you scan a bottle of alcohol, because then of course you’ll need ‘assistance’ due to age restrictions.
The worst thing about this is when the 10-year-old behind the counter takes one look at your haggard countenance and sanctions the sale without hesitation.
It takes every ounce of resilience not to break into the vino there and then, but to continue instead with the ludicrous concept of paying to serve oneself.
At this point, a security guard will suspect you of trying to nick stuff.
They arrive in the peripheries of your vision, which itself is getting a little blurred due to the sweat dribbling down your forehead.
I can only assume that the security guard in our local shop spent his last job being attacked by kleptomaniac midgets, because the instant he spots a small child in the store he is on them faster than women hitting the dance floor for I Will Survive.
And then of course there is the rigmarole of whether you want bags, and if you are going to have to pay for them.
By this stage I’d generally vote for placing one over my head and tying the handles like strings.
The final insult is when I pay and my children steal my change; child-height cash dispenser you see. Excellent.
· Verity Lush is a 36-year-old mum-of-two who lives in Portsmouth. She is a tutor in philosophy, English and maths and has written a book for newly-qualified teachers, plus textbooks and articles for teaching magazines and supplements. Follow her on Twitter @lushnessblog