Tuesday, April 29, 2008
The Grocery Store
When I was a small child, a visit to the commissary was a full-fledged family outing. My parents always got two baskets — one for children, one for groceries. The first stop in the door was the animal crackers. (As long as we were eating the cookies, we weren't begging for other stuff.)
Then we made our way down the narrow, dimly lit aisles and my mother filled the other basket with cans and boxes and glass jars. When we got to the checkout. The lady on her stool had to scan each item — but wait, she wasn't scanning them with a machine. She had to scan each item with her eyes to look for the little price sticker put there by some stock boy. Then she had to enter each amount into her numeric cash register.
Then came 1969 and the barcode scanner. Now, stockers just open cases and fill the shelves with pre-marked cans and boxes and plastic jars. Somewhere in an office, a clerk changes the prices on a computer screen and the checker just swipes the item across a mysterious glass pane in the checkout counter.
Still, when I go to the grocery store, I often have my grandson with me and I pick up the magical box of Barnum's Animal Crackers.