April 16th, 2024

Noteworthy: The inner struggle of self-checkouts

By Bruce Penton on February 21, 2024.

I’m of two minds when it comes to self-checkouts at grocery stores and other retail outlets. It’s certainly convenient to scan a few items yourself when the cashier-tended lines are longer than you’d prefer to wait. But the devil sitting on my shoulder whispers into my ear that due to my impatience, I’m helping to create unemployment and that elimination of self-checkouts would require the store to hire a few more humans and use some of those huge profits to put money into the pockets of more local people.

But then the devil on my other shoulder takes over and reminds me that many things have changed in the commercial world. For instance, I pump my own gas now when – believe it not, kids – back in the old days, a gas station attendant used to run out and fill your vehicle for you. And wash the windshield, too. And check the tire pressure.

Face it, society has become soft. People used to be required to get off the couch, walk over to the TV set and manually change the channel, before the remote control was invented. But back to self-checkouts. A story I recently read said there has been a bit of a shift away from self-checkouts in Canada – customer error and theft being two reasons leading stores to reconsider the concept.

It’s possible that Canadians may notice a reduction in self-checkouts in the years ahead.

– Communities in Bloom this summer might turn out to be more like Communities in Brown. Expectations (or perhaps just possibilities) of further drought in southern Alberta has led to the big thinkers planning for voluntary water restrictions, and possibly mandatory restrictions, if things get really dire. Drinking water and H2O for food production are priorities, but watering your lawn, your vehicle or hosing down the outside of your house may be restricted.

So what would voluntary water restrictions look like? Showering every other day rather than daily? Flushing the toilet only on No. 2? Golf courses protecting their greens but reducing fairway watering? Cars getting grimy, and staying grimy? We have always taken water availability for granted, but it’s disconcerting – on the verge of frightening – to imagine a life where the use of every drop of water has to be justified.

The only dry I’m interested in is dry humour. But there’s nothing funny about this situation.

– The dumbest commercial on TV these days is the one featuring Matthew Tkachuk and his brother Brady, both of them in full Florida and Ottawa hockey gear, sitting in the back seat of a Hyundai while their mother chastises them for incorrigible behaviour. C’mon Hyundai, you can do better than that. It’s not only juvenile, but it’s painful to watch.

– Hats off to a local group called the Pages & Pints Book Club, which devotes its time to reading and raising awareness about men’s mental health. According to a press release from the Medicine Hat Public Library, the club joined forces with Hell’s Basement Brewery to make a $1,000 donation to the library to support adult literacy. The brewery is involved because its general manager, Mike Patriquin, is a member of the reading club. The $1,000 donation came from proceeds of Plot Twist, “a pilot cold IPA brewed and served last summer at Hell’s Basement,” said the press release.

– Here’s another suggestions from the Axios post about how to live to be 100, if that’s your goal in life. “Get your Zs. In a culture that pushes us to wring every last ounce of productivity from every waking hour, many of us neglect good sleep hygiene. The American College of Cardiology says healthy sleep habits boost life expectancy by 4.7 years for men and 2.4 years for women.”

– It looks like fans of the Medicine Hat Tigers can get ready for an extended playoff season this year. With 12 games remaining, the Tigers are neck and neck with Moose Jaw Warriors for second place in the Eastern Conference and if the form chart plays out without upsets, coach Willie Desjardins’ Tigers will get to the second round, and possibly the third. The regular season ends March 24. Saskatoon Blades, who nipped the Tigers in overtime last Friday, will be the team to beat in the Eastern conference. The Blades have suffered a mere nine regulation-time losses this year. Desjardins is an experienced, savvy coach however, and he’ll have his players ready for the crunch games in April.

– If you believe the official word from Russia, the official cause of death of Putin critic Alexey Navalny, who died in prison, was “sudden death syndrome.”

Bruce Penton is a retired News editor who may be reached at brucepenton2003@yahoo.ca

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