Ramblin’ Thoughts

Although I never write about religion or politics, and I try to avoid expressing negative thoughts in both my written and spoken words, I’ve decided to share one of my pet peeves with you – namely, self-service checkout counters at grocery stores.

What mental lightweight came up with the idea of reducing lineups at cashier checkouts by adding the convenience of ‘self-service checkouts’?  I applauded the addition of the Express Line because at least it still employed a cashier and you didn’t have to stand in a line at the regular checkouts if you only had a few items.

After all, why should you have to wait in line, behind the person in front of you, who has a shopping cart overflowing with stuff, when you have only one or two items?  I mean how inconsiderate of the store that you should have to wait, right?

These were the thoughts going through my head while waiting in an express line at the grocery store.   I had seven or eight items in a basket and I was waiting in the lineup that was designated for 12-15 items or less’.  The lady in front of me had a shopping cart and there was at least 30 items in the cart, as well as a young child, crying and screaming in a pitch so high, that it could almost shatter glass.

And the person ahead of her was another shopper with about 20 items, so I decided to do something I had never done before – and that was to go to the self- service checkout.

But there was also a lineup there because all six self-checkout stations were already occupied with shoppers.  I usually avoid self-serve anything because I prefer to see people employed.  Do you remember the days when someone would politely greet you at your car and fill your vehicle with gas, check the oil and wash your windshield – while chatting about the weather with you?  Or the friendly cashier at the store who always smiles when he or she sees you.

I remembered my first part-time job was in 1963, at the Loblaws grocery store at the Oshawa Shopping Centre.  Part of my job was filling the shelves and the other part was bagging groceries for the cashiers.  One of the cashiers taught me how to bag properly – keeping canned and heavy non-perishable items at the bottom of the bag and lighter items on top.  But nowadays, shoppers must bag for themselves and you are charged five cents for each bag that you use.  I also remember that Captain Kirk used to be a pitchman for Loblaws, after his days sailing the US Starship Enterprise ‘boldly, where no man has gone before!’

As I stood in the lineup, I also noticed that the shoppers going through the cashier checkouts were talking and laughing with the cashiers, while the shoppers in the self-checkouts were silently scanning each of their items and then bagging them.  They had to use credit or debit cards – cash could only be used at the cashier checkouts.   Oh, and just in case you were planning not to scan all of your items (stealing) – look above you and you’ll notice the strategically-placed cameras watching your every move.  In-store detectives employed to catch shoplifters have also been replaced – by cameras and security scanners at the store exit.

Out in the parking lot, shoppers were loading their groceries into their vehicles and then returning the shopping cart to get their $1 coin deposit back.  And yes, the $1 deposit is the reason that people are returning their carts and not leaving them in the spot where they parked.  Interesting that Costco and Trader Joes both do not have a coin deposit on their carts and yet, most people return their carts to the appropriate storage area, anyway.

Lots of other stores are now switching to self-serve checkouts, including self-serve gas pumps; ATMs and of course, the Internet.  Self-serve is the reason we are becoming more insulated from each other.  Soon nobody will speak to each other and we’ll live in our own tiny bubbles.  Most of the people we call friends are people whom we’ve met at school or from our jobs but with whom we now only visit on social media.

And then, as I was driving home, I had a flashback to the faces of friends I remembered from that part-time job at Loblaws, fifty-six years ago, including Charlene Marsh, Danny Logeman, and Bob Simpson.

Well, Charlene married Danny and they later divorced.  I met Charlene again when we both worked at General Motors.  She married Dave Elliott, who also worked at GM.  I also remembered Dave from when he went to OCVI.  They are a lovely couple and I know they are very happy, enjoying retirement together.

And I used to bump into Danny Logeman every once in a while and last saw him at a party at my friends Alice and Peters home in the 1980s.   Danny and I used to refer to each other as ‘the wild man’.  Back in the day, Danny was a singer in a local rock band and I saw them perform at the Jube (Jubilee Pavilion) – they were very good.  I also remember that Danny worked as a letter carrier for Canada Post.

Bob Simpson and I didn’t really know each other very well at Loblaws but I boarded at his mom’s place during my last year in high school (1968) and we became good friends.  I bumped into him in Edmonton in the 1990s when we were both staying at the same hotel.  It was the first time that we’d seen each other in decades but I still considered him a good friend.  You might recall the story I wrote about Bob and I traveling to Washington, DC one weekend in the Sixties to visit his girlfriend – it ended badly.  Here is a link to that story:  Another Love Story

It’s now 3:44 AM on Saturday morning.  Holly woke me up an hour ago and I couldn’t fall back asleep, so I decided to write these few ramblin’ thoughts.  Today, I’m walking with the Vancouver Venturers walking club at Central Park in Burnaby.  My buddy Lawrence is hosting the event and it looks like it might be raining.  But with each walk, I usually make new friendships and that leads to some very interesting chats.  And usually, Mother Nature will seduce me with her beauty – leaving me with an ear-to-ear smile for the rest of the day!

What are you going to do, today?

Dedicated to my friend, Bob Simpson



Today’s tune from Danny’s library (purchased):

This Is My Song – lyrics

Why is my heart so light?
Why are the stars so bright?
Why is the sky so blue
Since the hour I met you?

Flowers are smiling bright
Smiling for our delight
Smiling so tenderly
For all the world, you and me

I know why the world is smiling
Smiling so tenderly
It hears the same old story
Through all eternity

Love, this is my song
Here is a song, a serenade to you
The world cannot be wrong
If in this world there is you

I care not what the world may say
Without your love, there is no day
So, love, this is my song
Here is a song, a serenade to you

I care not what the world may say
Without your love, there is no day
So, love, this is my song
Here is a song, a serenade to you

Songwriters: Charles Chaplin
This Is My Song lyrics © Universal Music

2 thoughts on “Ramblin’ Thoughts

  1. Glad you liked it but I have since changed the tune for the day. Meet Bobby Curtola, was the first record album I ever got (won it at a school dance in ’63 at OCVI) and I still have the album. I’ve got a few of his songs on Danny’s Tunes for today. Hugs and Love, Danny

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