The Public Eye

printed 09/13/2019

The words you use to hear at a retail store checkout counter were, “Will that be all?

As harmless as that was, I always found it to be a little odd, because if that wasn’t all, you’d still be shopping instead of standing there trying to pay for it.

“Will that be all?”

“Well, no, actually. I’m just stopping by for a chat before I get back to shopping.”

Retail clerks stopped asking that question about 10 years ago, when their companies concluded that a friendlier pre-checkout comment would be better.

So it came to be that this pointless question was replaced with, “Did you find everything okay?” Which, as it happens, also means zero, zip and zilch to the power of 10.

“Did you find everything okay?”

“No. I couldn’t find anything, so I bought this stuff instead.”

On the other hand, it’s never good when the person in front of you in line did not “find everything okay.”

“Did you find everything okay?”

“I didn’t. I can’t find the reusable tongue depressors or the 5.3-ounce bottle of monkey-gland youth serum with easy-on applicator.”

“Hey, Renee,” the clerk shouts across the floor to a co-worker. “Would you check to see if we’re out of monkey gland youth serum and the ...”

Meanwhile, two birthdays and seven dizzy spells later, you’re still in line.

The better way to handle these situations would be to have the people at the register yell, “Will everyone who didn’t find everything okay please form a line over there and we’ll deal with you later. Okay?”

But now, that checkout comment has been replaced as well by the troubling and somewhat threatening, “Are you in our system?”

“Hi,” the checkout person says cheerfully as you put your purchases on the counter. “Are you in our system?”

“No, I am not.”

“Not a problem. If you’ll just give me your email address …”


“No? If I can just have your phone number then …”


“... we can notify you of our specials, sales and …


“Rewards card?”


It’s as if they don’t care whether you buy anything, as long as they get you in their systems.

The thing is, I don’t want to be in the system, because I don’t want their email alerts on sales and specials to add to the other 200 emails a day I receive from whack-job political people, other retail chains about their specials and sales, money-lenders, orphaned widows in Nigeria who need my help to get $20 million out of the country, and, oddly, the occasional “Chinese Women Want To Meet You.”

All I want to do is buy what I need and be on my way.

“Maybe,” she says, “you’d like to try self-checkout instead.”


“Why not?”

“I’m a people person.”

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