Another checkout hang-upI remember the first time I saw a self checkout.

I was in college in Columbia, Mo., and they were at the Wal-Mart Supercenter about 10 years ago.

I love gadgets. I love doing things myself.

These were right up my alley.

Except for the dance number you had to do to buy produce.

I think it involved a camera and someone watching in a secret booth somewhere.

Fast forward a decade and it looks like some retailers are giving up on this technology.

Albertson’s LLC (the 200-plus stores not owned by Supervalu) and Kroger are two I’ve read about recently.

I don’t think you’ll hear any protests from the produce side of the store.

Produce is a nightmare in self checkout. Just think of the shrink. How many pounds of cherries do you think masqueraded as bananas last week?

If it doesn’t have a bar code to scan, someone has to look up the Price Look Up code, key it in and weigh it. Oh, and was that a shallot or garlic? Green onions or leeks? Braeburn or fuji?

Organic or conventional?

That’s a whole other line of shrink. Even seasoned checkers miss that “9” when they’re in autopilot, keying in my 4-0-1-1 hand of bananas.

Self-checkout lanes also never seemed to be faster for me. Despite being what I consider a proficient shopper, I can’t seem to find the magic combination that doesn’t make me look inept.

Either I bring my own bags and mess up the sensors, or something I’ve picked up from center store inexplicably has no bar code or the machine simply hates me and I’m forced to stand there, in shame, while I wait for the ringmaster of self checkouts to come rescue me.

I pity the clerk assigned to self-checkout duty.

Imagine watching people fumble around trying to do a job you’re probably pretty good at and having to jump in and fix problems over and over. I don’t have that kind of patience.

I’d rather stand in line, let someone else ring up my groceries, smile at me and hand my kid a balloon and send me on my way.

pamelar@thepacker.com

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