I Can’t Do This

Ralphs in Camarillo got a self checkout

Oldest, 12.  Youngest two, 9.

I can’t do this!

My kids know that I don’t like that phrase – it’s like giving up.

Instead, I want them to think; how does this work?

Riding a bike – I can’t do this.

No.  How does this work?

Math homework – I can’t do this.

No.  How does this work?

Then, our grocery store installed the Self-Check Out scanner.

I can’t do that.

I know I shouldn’t say that.  But every time I try, that computer lady just starts nagging me.

“Do you have a bonus card?”

“No, I left it in the car.”

“Do you have any coupons?”

“No, my wife has those.”

Scan your first item.”

I do, but it doesn’t register.

“Place item on the scanner.”

“I did,” I say to myself.

“Place item on the scanner.”

As I wave a bag of tortillas across the scanner lens, in every possible way I can think of, her even-paced voice announces to everyone that I don’t have a clue.  “Place item on the scanner.” “Place item on the scanner.”

“It’s ON the scanner,” I say under my breath.

I wave it fast.  I wave it slow.  I use two hands.  I wave it in circles.  I even accept help from the lady next to me.

“Try figure-eights,” she says.

Three figure-eights.  Nothing.

“Place item on the scanner.”

“It IS on the scanner, lady!”  She’s laughing at me in there, I know it.

Finally, her patience runs out and she announces that I’m an idiot by using these four words, “Please wait for attendant.”

Usually, it’s just about that time that my final swipe of the item connects. 

Bloop-boop.  “Scan next item.”

The whole process is embarrassing.  My oldest daughter won’t even stand in line with me.  If I decide to be brave and try the Self Check Out aisle, she’ll say something supportive like, “Can I wait in the car?”

If my son is with me, he helps – from a distance – by saying, “You’re doing it wrong.”

My youngest, on the other hand, thinks Self Check Out is fun!  Often, she’ll ask to do it before we’re even done shopping.

So, I finally figured it out.  Here’s how you do it: push your cart up to the Self Check Out scanner, pick up your first item, hand it to your 9-year old and say, “So, how does this thing work?”


 “Hey, dad?”

 Sorry, got to go.  More later.


About murphyjoel

Husband, father, writer, over-sized kid. View all posts by murphyjoel

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