Idiot of the Week: I Can Do Anything You Can Do Better

I am no stranger to the saying, “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.” Just look at the title of this site; of course I think I can do everything better myself! Group projects? Pass! Screw you guys, I’d rather do the whole thing alone. Subway sandwiches? Move over, I’ll show you how to make a sandwich. (I mean, yes, I did ask for onions but did you honestly think I wanted two handfuls? And nobody needs so much lettuce that their sandwich can’t close. And who puts the mayo on last? You are supposed to spread it on the bread! I don’t want to take a bite of sandwich and have it just be lettuce and mayo!)

yumBut people forget that this adage has its limits, and few seem aware of the contrary and less popular saying, “If you want to fuck something up royally, by all means, do it yourself.” Like cutting your own bangs – even though it seems like you would just cut across in a straight line…you can’t. Or tailoring your own clothes. Or anything involving car maintenance. If you have some knowledge in these areas, then sure, maybe you can do it yourself. But if not…consider that there is a reason that people do this for a living, and that they may have honed a skill that you haven’t.

Even I will admit that not everyone is an idiot and that some people are better than me at doing their own job. One instance where this is true is at the grocery store. Ever since the introduction of the Self Check-Out, people have flocked to those kiosks to scan and bag their own items because they assume it will be faster. If it’s new and it’s technology, it must be better! And sometimes it is. When I have one or two items, and they both have a bar code, and there is no line for the Self Check-Out, I agree that it is just as fast for me to check out myself and enjoy the added bonus of not having to talk to anyone.

But beyond that, I’m sticking to my tried-and-true human check-out person. If I have a cart full of groceries to scan and bag, why would I want to do all that work when I could be standing there watching someone else do it at a much faster rate? These people bag groceries all day long. They already have the codes for avocados and Gala apples memorized. They sort cans away from eggs and bread without even thinking. If they double scan something they can just delete it and don’t have to clench their fists and teeth while an automated voice tells them there seems to be a problem and wait for the attendant to come help. There is no way I could be faster at checking out than this person.

So why is it that every time I want to go to the Self Check-Out to scan one freaking bag of tortilla chips so I can go home and enjoy my fresh guacamole, there is a line four people deep of idiots with a cart full of groceries? What are you people doing? Did you honestly think this would be faster? These kiosks were not designed for more than a handful of items. There isn’t even enough room at the kiosk to unload all your groceries, nor is there enough room to bag them. But if you remove one of your bags to make room for another, the machine freaks out and stops everything to accuse you of stealing. “Please do not remove items from the bag. No really, put that back, where do you think you are going with that jar of pickles? Did you think I wouldn’t notice? I am a machine, I know everything!”

How could this possibly be faster than someone flinging your items down a conveyor belt and bagging them like a human-octopus hybrid? I mean these people are fast. What makes you think you can waltz in there and magically do a better job than someone who does this 20-40 hours a week? Especially when you are in fact slow as shit. I am going to write a book called, The Audacity of Confidence, where I complain about people who have way more faith in themselves than they should. I’m sorry, but we aren’t all incredibly talented and competent. Ask Darwin. These delusional slowpokes need to face facts and just get out of the way so those of us with three items or less can get in, get out, and get on with our lives…or guacamole…whatever!

What do you think – are your local cashiers competent enough to earn your trust or do you feel better off alone? Take the poll!

74 thoughts on “Idiot of the Week: I Can Do Anything You Can Do Better

  1. The notion of self-check out is genius, theoretically. But apparently I am cursed because every time I’ve attempted to use one, something stupid happens and I have to see the attendant. Time UNsaved. So, no. I’ll just take my stuff to a person who is prepared to ring it up. Yay. Very funny post : )

  2. I like self-checkout because I don’t like small talk. However, I try to force myself to do regular checkout because 1. human interaction is good for me, and 2. I don’t want to put these people out of jobs.
    And sometimes cutting your own bangs turns out okay…though most times, I royally screw them up. 😉

  3. I use them on occasion, but looking up a lot of produce? Not for me. And if I have beer, a manager has to be called over anyway, and I can’t do anything else while I wait. I like the future book title! I like the fun poll widget too–I’m going to check that out for future use.

  4. I’m right there with you on this self checkout business being used by people who should be in a lane with an actual cashier and bagger… I’m not sure if that bugs me more or less than people who still use effing checkbooks in line.

  5. You are hilarious!!! And I’m a disaster at the self-check. Thanks for coming by. New to your blog but don’t panic if you start feel stalked. I’m just a lovesick new fan. 🙂

  6. No matter what line I pick to stand behind, whether it is the teen with the box of popcorn and a bottle of soft drink, or the well dressed woman who just has a few items in her cart I always, always pick the line that end up being the slowest, there is a need for a price check, their debit card doesn’t work, they can’t find their coupon. I often wonder if I just threw a $10 bill at them and ran out the door with my $3.49 bottle of salad dress would I be arrested.

    P.S. Can I be added to the book buyer list, I am so in.. I could buy them in bulk and hand them out to every idiot I meet along the way, perhaps they would recognize themselves.. But probably not. an idiot doesn’t even recognize they are an idiot.

  7. I completely agree! That’s why I’m at odds with the fact that today I actually wished for a self checkout for my bazillion groceries as the 85 yo cashier very suuhhlooooowwwlllyyyy scanned and bagged my week’s worth of foodstuffs. zzzz oh. my. god. He put the eggs in with the canned stuff, he crushed my bread, but the soda bottles were safe in the front of my cart. Oh – and a full five minutes trying to scan something through a plastic bag. I feel so much better now that I vented! 😉

  8. Oh, the stories my bangs could tell of how I know better than everyone else. For me accepting “It’s not as easy looks” is not as easy as it looks sometimes. But on the bright side, I now have an impressive collection of cute headbands. Oh, and a stylist who trims my bangs fo’ free.

  9. I hate self check out because it takes forever and if someone is waiting behind me, I am intimidated. Some stores only have a cashier at one register and I am forced to check out a large order. Often, I will avoid that store.

  10. Oh, how my bangs could tell you stories of how I know better than anyone else. Hence my vast collection of headbands and bobby pin skills. “It’s not as easy as it looks” is hard earned in my life sometimes.

  11. I totally get the sentiment, but I don’t use self-checkouts unless there is no other option – and when a worker in a stores motions to them, I politely tell them “no thanks, self-check out takes away jobs from people, I’d rather have a person”. 🙂 Okay, I may be polite, but it’s a bit high-n-mighty! This was pretty hysterical!

  12. Why is that (it’s often very old people) will attempt the self check out when they have absolutely no idea how it works? And why does it seem like I’m always behind someone like that?!
    The only thing worse is when they finally get to the end and now it’s time to write a check. A freaking check?!? What is this? 1985?!

  13. I completely agree with you. I love Self Check-Out but there is a limit. If I look down and see veggies and fruit, I need a real human. How in the hell am I supposed to know what kind of apples I picked up? There are 432 types of apples at the grocery store! I treat self check-out as 10 items or less (no fruits or veggies) aisle ONLY.

    Great post!

  14. Age is the X-factor. Have you ever seen the elderly struggle with new technologies? I don’t just mean bar code scanners. Watch some old fossil get into a wrestling match with a mobile phone. Hilarious. And if it’s a smart phone? Forget it. I stare at them thinking: “One day, that’ll be you.”

  15. Oh man, I think I have to argue the opposite. I HATE going to the checkout counter at the grocery store because the clerks have no idea how to pack the groceries into the grocery bag. Why do people think that bananas belong at the bottom of the bag? Have they never eaten – or at the very least, unpeeled – a banana before? The insides are soft. They bruise easily. They should NOT form the base of the grocery bag. I’ve had loaves of bread and all varieties of produce crushed to a near inedible point. Or there was the time that I gave the check-out clerk two reusable grocery bags, and he proceeded to pack all my groceries (mainly heavy things like dairy and cans) into ONE of the bags, and then handed the second empty bag back to me. Really? I walked to the grocery store. You think I want to carry one bursting bag and one empty bag? So that leaves me with three choices: (1) Go to the full service line and ask the clerk if I can pack the bag myself (I usually get a dirty look, as if I think they can’t pack them correctly – which they CAN’T); (2) Go to the full service line, and then repack all the groceries at the end of the lane before vacating the vicinity, because I refuse to eat crushed bananas (this makes me unpopular with the clerk AND other customers); or (3) Take my big full basket to self check-out and leave happy. After awhile, you start to memorize the codes anyway 🙂 (4011 = bananas!)

    And don’t get me started on the time that I went to a grocery store with no self check-out, and selected 4 items. I got to the front, and two lines were open – the 10 items or less, and the regular line. There was a wait in 10 items or less, and no wait in the regular line. I went to the regular line, and was told that because I had fewer than 10 items, I HAD to go use the other line and wait. I was NOT allowed to use the empty regular line. That doesn’t even make any sense!!

    Sorry, grocery stores are a hot button topic for me 😉

    • Hahaha, you do have a good point – if the cashier doesn’t know how to bag…that changes everything. Mine are good with the exception of never double bagging things that are obviously going to rip through. But yeah, my fruit bowl bruises my bananas – my 4011s if you will haha – so they definitely can’t survive at the bottom of a bag. And you are right, you have no good options because apparently it is rude to want something done right! Just like I can’t tell the person at Subway exactly how I want my sandwich made. I remember you telling me they turned you away at the non-express lane and I still can’t believe the idiocy of that. I think we need to just start growing our own food…it’s the only way.

  16. Human-octopus hybrid got me! Ha! I do love the self-check lanes even when I have a small cart-full though…of course, I was also a checker in college and it is kind of like riding a bike…unless my kids are with me begging to scan things. Lesson learned.

  17. I despise those machines. I’m not machine-phobic (bought my first computer in 1983), but… YIKES. They are awful for all the reasons you state and more. How anyone thinks they are an improvement is beyond me!
    (steps off soapbox and slinks away quietly)

  18. Ha, we’re totally laughing our asses off. This whole ‘do-it-yourself’ era has spawned so many idiots the word’s combusting with stupidity. And while technology advances to make our lives easier, it’s also giving idiots more opportunities to annoy the hell out of people that are just trying to make it through the day. Great post! Sorry we haven’t been by the site in a while, we’ve been busy promoting our new novel. We’re so glad to be back, though and love the new page! 🙂

  19. You have honed in on one of my all-time biggest pet peeves! Those people who insist on checking out all 900 of their items drive my ZOMG INSANE.

    Also, your blog is lookin’ mighty fine, if I may be so bold ;D

  20. You had me literally laughing out loud. I have to admit that sometimes I am one of those dumb shits, but only at WalMart. Even at Costco when the lines are long as hell I have seen the light, but at WalMart, when the whole world is trying to check out and they have two lanes open across the store from each other, I take my whole bag of groceries to the self check out. But 1) there are plenty of kiosks and 2) I have done it so often those machines and I have an understanding. If they eff with me, I will break them into as many pieces as a door knob…I hear they have 1,000.

  21. I’m so lucky – my husband does all the grocery shopping except for the farmer’s market. He normally is fine with it but came home not long ago complaining that they have moved everything in the store and he can’t find things now!

  22. I LOVE this. I am the only one who knows how to do everything better than everyone else. Except for the stuff I don’t know how to do at all. And I hate those damn kiosks. It’s like eating out and having the server say “hey, sounds like your order is up-you should go grab your food” Why am I doing all the work? Plus, it takes jobs away from people who really need them!

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