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Wednesday, 11 March 2015 11:53

Technology woes at the supermarket

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It could be said that there’s something a little inhuman about automated check out counters at the grocery store.


It could be, but you won’t hear it from me.
Not, that is, if it means being spared the small, but frequent, indignity that happens whenever a checker flips over my AirMiles card and, after scowling at the embossed type, mispronounces my name.
Now, if your name is Smith, Brown, Jones or some other, monosyllabic, phonetic absolute, you may not know what I mean.
And if that’s the case, let me just illustrate by saying that Hossack does not rhyme with Prozac.
Although, sometimes, as on grocery days, I think it should.
On the other hand, if your name starts with a silent M, an X that sounds like a Z, has a freight train of Greek syllables, is un-English in any way, is neither a colour nor other common noun, you are already nodding with me. Emphatically, even.
Why? Because you, too, regularly have your name slurred through, or articulated as a mouthful of consonants that sound like peanut brittle falling out of someone’s mouth. After which, your bank and points cards are handed back to you without the nicety of eye contact. Because, of course, there is now embarrassment on both sides of the till tape.
Oh yes. I know your pain.
But before we march on the supermarket with placards and pitchforks, it’s not the checkers’ fault. From where I cringe, they seem just as uncomfortable with a pretense of familiarity, of small townishness, where none exists.
Rather, some well-worded missives to head office might accomplish more.
And to that end we, the mass mispronounced, the slightly slighted, might suggest they employ a new focus group, not made up of lonely ladies named White (no offense to lonely ladies, or anyone named White, intended).
Or, let’s simply ask them who they think they’re kidding?
We live, after all, in a city of some reasonable size.
Few enough people here know our faces, let alone our grocery orders by heart.
Fewer still can guess, by our cart contents alone, whether we’re heading home to bake the banana muffins we’re famous for in our kaffeeklatsch. If, indeed, any of us belong to anything as intimate as a kaffeeklatsch anymore.
In fact, this might all be as good an argument as there is for shopping small specialty shops, where employees have a hope of learning your name and can say it faithfully, even when paid in cash.
If, however, supermarkets are your grocery bread and butter, consider this an invitation to come on over and join the party.
No, we won’t learn each other’s names while swiping bar codes and learning how not to pack eggs under gallons of milk, but together we can learn the produce codes for bananas and swipe our debit cards in blessed anonymity.
 

Banana Oatmeal Muffins
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 large mashed bananas
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips, chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, oil and milk and vanilla. Add mashed bananas and stir to combine. Add to flour and oat mixture and mix with a fork until just combined. Fold in chocolate or nuts, if using.
Line or grease 12 regular muffin cups and fill 3/4 full. Bake at 400F for 18-20

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