While shopping over the holiday weekend, I twice ran into situations where the lines to the cashiers were very long, but no one would use the self checkout lines. The stores were apparently short staffed because the employees wanted a long weekend as well, and the managers desperately tried to lure shoppers over to the lines that had no wait.
Not a single person dared to leave their place in line, however, and this Modern Philosopher could not have been prouder. Yet another victory in the battle against The Machines and another step in holding off The Robot Apocalypse.
Since I was going to be stuck in line for awhile, and I needed something to do to pass the time, I struck up conversations with those around me. I wanted to find out why my fellow costumers had no interest in using the automated checkout option.
“Dude, the sign is a little creepy,” said the priest ahead of me in line as he pointed to the glowing rectangle that hung above the first lane. “Self checkout sounds like an invitation to suicide, and my boss is very much against that action.”
A little morbid for a man of the cloth, but I assumed a life of celibacy really messed with a guy’s thought process.
“I don’t trust the machines,” the little old lady behind me whispered as if she feared the technology over in the first aisle would overhear our conversation. “I don’t trust that they’re not zapping some sort of bar code onto us while they’re supposedly scanning our groceries.”
Now we were getting somewhere. This adorable grandmother-type had to be at least 70, and she was hip to the threat of The Machines.
“It’s all over the internet, man,” chipped in the college kid with the cart full of booze and hot dogs in the next line. “The Robot Apocalypse is coming and we’ve gotta remain ever vigilant. We use that machine, and we become a little more dependent on technology.”
“If we use the self checkout, we’re replacing a fellow human with a machine,” added the soccer mom in line behind the college kid. “Next thing we know, machines are taking all our jobs and humans become slaves to technology. Not happening on my watch.”
I was giddy with delight. The college kid had pretty much quoted one of my blog posts verbatim. The word was getting out there. Modern Philosophers, rather than Machines, were rising up around me.
Very few people know me as the writer of this blog. I use a fake profile pic, in part, to protect my identity. I rarely go out in public in my toga. At that moment, however, I wished I had been wearing a tie dyed toga emblazoned with “I am the Modern Philosopher” because I was so proud of my fellow Mainers.
The conversations were eerily similar in the second store. In that one, the manager dared to came over to our line to try to cajole and even bribe people into using the automated checkout line. When one customer stepped out as if to take him up on his offer, everyone else in line booed and hissed until she decided to stay where she was.
“Think about the rest of us!” yelled an extremely deep voiced woman from the back of one of the lines. “It’s our future, too.”
The manager threw his hands up in surrender and gave up his quest. That earned a cheer from my fellow Modern Philosophers, and the pride swelled up in me again.
I know The Machines are watching. I am well aware that Robot High Command monitors this blog and my Facebook account. I even gave them something new to worry about when I started on Twitter last week (Follow me @Austin_Hodgens).
I don’t care, though. I will not be silenced. You can count on me to periodically remind you to stay ever vigilant, to not allow The Machines to root themselves too deeply in your life, and to always remember that you can pull the plug on them at any time.
We are the masters of this planet. We decide its fate. The Robot Apocalypse will happen only if we get lazy and lower our guard. Yes, technology has its place and uses, but one of those places is not in the checkout line at the grocery store. There’s a fellow human who can run those bar codes under the scanners for us.
Besides, is the self checkout machine going to bag our groceries for us? Is it going to miscount our change? Is it going to ask us embarrassing questions about our purchases?
Of course not. Only humans can do those things.
The Machines are going to have to keep waiting for their opportunity because we are not going to give them the opening they need to launch The Robot Apocalypse and enslave the human race.
Not on my watch! Not in my grocery store!