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A Cashier and Her Barcode Scanner

There was a good Friday evening crowd at the supermarket today when I went in to get a few things for the fridge. I always make a mental note of the things I intend to purchase, so I was in and out as always, resisting the urge to look this way and that at the shelves and just going to the sections that I already know by heart I can find the things that I need.

There were long queues at the cashiers’ tables; but typically, I found one near the entrance where there was only one customer having her purchases scanned. She had a cart with her, but the goods she bought were mostly sarî-sarî store stuff: sachets of soap, shampoo and toothpaste; canned meat and fish; even disposable shaving razors.

There was a small kid with her who was climbing all over the cart as well as the edge of the conveyor table. When I started to place my goods on the conveyor, she admonished the child curtly to move away.

The lad was looking at me with curious round eyes, and I grinned at him to reassure him that it was alright for him to be where he was. I also smiled at his mother to let her know that the boy was no bother at all.

She looked coldly at me, glared at the boy for him to move away and brusquely turned her attention back to the cashier.

Ay ang ganda n’ya…!!!

Then, just when I decided she was not worth another moment of attention – I did notice her toenails were painted blue, haller naman parang cartoons – I would see from the corner of my eyes that she would sneak a glance my way every now and then.

Well, by that time, all my attention was devoted to the cashier, who was making a right sorry mess of punching in the sachets the lady had purchased.

The infra-red barcode scanners at Rob’s supermarket are low-end to begin with – unlike those at, say, SM where the infra-red beams hardly miss anything. Being a regular at Rob, I have long known that the scanners there have a hard time reading barcodes printed on surfaces that are not flat.

I guess tonight’s cashier – somebody I had not seen before, obviously a newbie – was told in training to hold sachets firmly between her fingers and rotate these in front of the scanner. Sometimes it worked… and sometimes it didn’t…

“Ma’am, do you mind if I opened the plastic wrapper?” the cashier asked the woman while she held bundled sachets of shampoo in her hand. Ganda agreed, so the cashier proceeded to take the sachets out of the wrapper, firmly held on to the edges of one and then started to rotate the same sachet in front of the scanner… and again… and again… and again…

There were 12 sachets in all, so she did that rotating movement at least twelve times. I say “at least” because the scanner was not necessarily cooperating, and there were so many times na palyado

Finally done, the cashier repeated the process with the toothpaste sachets… and the soap sachets… You get my drift!

Berrrrri gud!!! It was amusing, really!

I was tempted to suggest that she tried using the numeric keypad – the asterisk is the universal sign for the multiplication function – but, what the heck, she looked like she was having fun! Either that or talaga lang matalinong batâ…

She breezed through my purchases without incident, except that she tried to send the bagger back to the meat section because the two longganisas the meat section assistant stuffed into the plastic bag with my liempo did not have barcodes.

“Ay free eh!” the bagger exclaimed, not amused. Oo nga naman, each longganisa had a sticker on it with the word FREE printed, size 60 font and bold pa

Grinning wickedly, I gave the bagger a knowing wink. Matalinong batâ, beri gud talaga

[This story was first published on Facebook on 14 November 2008.]

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