Saturday, November 11, 2006
No silence for the tills!
All the leafleting took place of course, after the two minutes silence to mark Armistice Day at 11.00. The Remembrance Sunday services themselves, including the one I will be attending with Prestwich Liberal Democrats tomorrow (at St Hilda’s Church at 09.30 followed by a parade - please come along and show your support for the veterans) are hugely important, but the 11th November itself is of course the anniversary of the armistice ending World War I, and therefore vital to remember as well.
And I was in ASDA at 11.00, and was pleased to see that the two-minutes silence was impeccably observed. Well, almost...
Whilst all the staff and shoppers stopped and remembered in silence the heroes of the wars, a distinctly twenty-first century interruption could be heard. The self-service automated check-outs refused to conform to convention, and wanted to continue working! So, amidst the silence and respite, disturbed only by the hum of the giant freezers, came the robotic cry of:
“Please place next item in front of scanner.”
“Please place item into bagging area”
"Next customer, please!"
repeated time after time after time, piercing the silence and heard throughout the shop! I felt for the shoppers unfortunate enough to be using the machines at the crucial time. Their valiant efforts to shut the blasted things up only made the situation worse. I could see what was happening, as their frantic tappings of the screen meant that the robot within got louder rather than quieter:
“Please place next item in fro… PLEASE REPEAT INSTRUCTION. PLEASE DO NOT PRESS CANCEL. ITEM VOID.”
Thankfully the melee didn’t disturb the solemnity of the occasion for most, and nobody got upset or angry. But it was certainly something the planners didn’t bargain for when they installed them, I’ll bet!