Ink Out Loud: Check it out: Life in the fast lane |

Ink Out Loud: Check it out: Life in the fast lane

Self-checkout is far from a new concept. When I was a child we bought vegetables and farm fresh eggs at a ramshackle stand that resembled the psychiatric booth where Charles Schultz’s animated Lucy gave advice for 5 cents.

The little farmstand functioned on the honor system. There was a price list that sat crooked in front of a coffee can with a slit in the plastic top to drop your dollars and cents. There wasn’t ever anyone around. I imagine the proprietors collected the money after they returned from work each day.

I recall how apalled we all were when we heard someone stole the can. It happened just one time over a period of many years. The regular shoppers dropped a little bit of extra change into the coffee can until the money was replaced.

Those were simpler times, I suppose.

As much as I loved that unmanned small town stand, I haven’t warmed up to the idea of the grocery store self-checkout line.

I like talking to the clerks who can answer my questions and engage in a short conversation.

Self-checkout lanes replace people with machines, thus eliminating jobs.

Customer loyalty is typically better at businesses with real people tending to the needs of the patrons.

Also theft or shoplifting take place at a rate about five times more often with self-checkout, according to recent studies.

A thief will find a way to steal regardless of the obstacles, but why open an area that simplifies the act? A cashier might be the last line of defense against loss.

Mandy Feder is the Managing Editor of the Tahoe Daily Tribune. She can be reached at or 530-542-8006.

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