Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Vicus Scurra has been having problems with BT's automated voices telling him what to do.

It seems that everywhere we turn, humans have been replaced by faulty machines. I am frequently intimidated by the automated checkouts at Sainsbury's supermarket.

When they were first introduced, I would still instinctively head for the queue waiting for the human checkout option, in the belief that the now underemployed workers (face it, mainly middle aged mums who aren't paid much) would be booted out of their jobs and replaced by machines. Unfortunately, if you are seen to have less than 50 items in your basket, someone on the shop floor will swoop down on you to usher you to the automated checkout. You have to give in.

You are then subjected to a form of sensory overload as you run the items over the bar code. The prices are read out to you by a woman whose voice suggests she is approaching a not-very-thrilling orgasm ... ONE...NINETY...FIVE! EIGHTY...THREE...PENCE! However, you are lucky if you can price all the items up without the addition of the killer announcement "UNEXPECTED ITEM IN THE BAGGING AREA". This is spoken by a silver haired lothario in Farah slacks and an eggshell-blue turtle neck sweater. He used to perform with the Cliff Adams Singers of Radio Two's popular "Sing Something Simple" programme, and has recently "found happiness" with his fifth wife, a 29 year old researcher for Tyne Tees Television. Anyway, at this juncture a pimply youth will appear and will attempt to correct the fault by pressing a number of keys and then going to get Dawn who, joyfully, twenty minutes later, manages to eradicate the problem.

By the time you are asked to pay the voices in the machine will have asked you a number of intimate personal questions about your financial situation, any embarrassing medical conditions you may have, and whether or not you have considered rudimentary plastic surgery as, face it, you're looking a bit "tired" and all your friends think that but they're too nice to admit it to you.

In 1987, a slightly drunken friend announced that, by the year 2000 "we will all be flying around in cups and saucers". The future has proved more terrible than she could ever have imagined.

the machines! the machines!

i don't trust any of them. that's because my other half works in IT and it annoys him tho, no other reason than that.
Evidently you have to move to this island. Even your petrol is still put in by man with little bag in front for money. Non-automated check-out people though speak Spanish. Still better than unenthusiatically orgasmic machine.

PS. All I did was get to Caroline's site. Was promptly thrown - inadvertently - onto yours. Is Blogger telling us something?
SG - it's difficult to know which is more trustworthy, a machine or a human being.

Grappy P - I think I'd rather be living in the Canaries anyway.

Oh, and I'm sorry that you were frogmarched over here by Blogger. No wonder I've been getting all those visitors from Caroline's site - they were all unwilling. It's not part of my evil plan to dominate the internet (I'm not that intelligent). I must apologise to anyone for unnecessary mental suffering and confusion.

MB - the husband said "I think MB did a post about self service checkouts. It's going to look like you have copied him". Oh dear.
I'd LEARN Spanish if it meant an end to 'automated service'.

I wonder what they speak in Madagascar. That sounds like the sort of place where real people speak to you.
Mark - the language is Malagasy. Zaza is the Malagasy word for child. Two new species of mouse lemur have been discovered there, and one of them has a white stripe across its nose (football fans may recall Robbie Fowler). Robbie Fowler is to return to Liverpool FC, it has just been revealed.

Oh dear, I got a bit carried away on Google. I really will have to manage my time better.
It sounds terrifying!! I hope these scary inventions don't make it all the way out to olde Suffolk ...
Donna - I'm not sure how many of them are now in use nationwide but they've been in our area for over a year. I always assumed that they were part of a pilot scheme because this was the London borough that had the highest population of stupid people. If we could work out how to used them, anybody could.
Betty don't be daft, it's not like I hold a copyright on all the ideas in the world. Anyway, don't great minds think alike?

Although my lawyers will be in touch.
Fair enough.

I will have to apply for Legal Aid.
'Unexpected item in the bagging area' is usually my knee resting on the sensor plate that holds the bags and checks that you're not scanning a cucumber yet putting a Moulinex blender in your carrier. Despite knowing how sensitive it is, I do this every time I use one, as I scan, open-mouthed, dead-eyed and desperate.
Nooo, I HATE the self-service checkouts. They dont save time, they take forever and you cant just scan booze through, someone has to verify you're 18 so you end up stood in the middle of Sainsburys trying to attract the attention of a bored teenager whos not authorised to verify your age anyway coz he's only twelve!
Lost Boy - yes, your powers of concentration have to be at their best. Not putting the items in the carrier bag before paying helps a bit, I've found.

Fuckkit - I've never tried to scan booze on one of those things. It's offputting buying alcohol in supermarkets anyway with those satellite dish things now attached to the tops of bottles of spirit to stop you nicking them. Do what I do and take to drinking surgical spirit and nail varnish remover instead.
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