I hate them. E loves them. In his words, “You don’t have to talk to the moron at the till.” Oh, that darling misanthrope o’ mine.
But, really? I can do a lot of things. I am terribly competent at a lot of things. But scanning and bagging my own groceries is not in my skill set. The machines always fritz, and where do you put the money? In fact, I do not want a bag. I brought a bag. What’s that, machine? You won’t scan the item unless I put it in the bag? The bag is not optional? So not only have I wasted five minutes’ time for the poor schmuck who walks me through the tag and bag process, now I have to take a bag? No. Just no.
I go to a cashier. They are faster than I am. I smile. I am friendly and polite, because, frankly, if I had to do their job, I would be catatonic within a couple of hours. More importantly, I am showing, through my choice, that I choose to interact with people who are getting paid, not machines that are not.
So. Imagine my dismay in the Main Library branch when I saw that I only had the choice of automatic book checkouts. I was appalled. They won’t do that to all the branches, will they? I need my library staff. I need someone who knows how to find scary books for an eight-year-old. I need my checkout lady who says, “Oh, the kids are liking the Henry and Mudge? I saw a couple back here. Hold on.” I need my co-conspirator in loving the populist fiction, who whispers, “Put a hold on the new Jayne Anne Krentz. It’s HOT!”
Some days, these are the only people I speak to who are old enough to buy a beer. I value these conversations. I value these people in my community, and I do not want to replace them with machines.