Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Self Disservice

Quickly, I surveyed the forces arrayed against me. Aisle 1--"20 items or less," indeed. People stacked up like jets at O’Hare. All waiting on some lank-jawed “blond” woman at the register, who seemed flummoxed at having suddenly been teleported from prehistoric Caledonia by an unknown alien race who were just having some kicks at the expense of the silly Earthers.

Aisles 2-6--either empty, or similarly full of slow-moving carts full to the brim of inexpensive crap, being checked out by Patrick the Starfish.

But WAIT, what’s THIS!?

Technology, my friends.

Self-checkout thingies. Oooooh. Aaaaaaah.

I manfully strode to the nearest one, as is my manful way. Oddly, this one was empty of peoples. “Hah,” I thought to myself with much gruff masculinity, “obviously these people aren’t Full of Technical Knowledge like I am!” I passed the giant jug of Diet Coke over the scanner lens--*blieunp*.




Grr. I looked over at the next self-serve gadget. A man stood there, a cart full of inexpensive crap. He looked lost. Hopeless.

“Are they messed up?”

He gave something of a shrug and said that he’d done something wrong, but he didn’t know if the one I was using was working or not.

Obviously, it wasn’t. And the lines at the regular checkouts had just grown longer. Another self-checker? No, someone just got in the only other one with five carts full of inexpensive crap to buy. ::sigh:: Finally, a stout maiden in a blue vest walked past the other guy, and after mumbling something to him, started off somewhere else.

“Ma’am? Ma’am--is this one working?”

“Try swiping something.”



“Huh. Well, I don’t reckon it is.” And then she left.

O, cruel wicked fate. Holding out only the illusion, the mirage of speedy service!

I consigned myself to going and waiting behind the other guy, because even though he was Trouble, he had at least gotten the machine to work.

“You’d figure the self-serve things would be quicker,” I said by way of greeting.

“Yeah,” he said. “I rang something twice, and they’re trying to get someone to void it out.”

“Ah,” I said.

Finally, after what seemed like at least fifty years, the blue-vested woman brought with her another blue-vested woman, older, more experienced in the arcane ways of the black arts. “What’s yer trouble, hon?” An over-ring. Must. Be. Voided! The older lady and her lackey intently swiped various cards, pushed imaginary buttons, chatted, jangled keys, entered codes, un-*blieunp*ed the offending merchandise, pushed more buttons, swiped another card, and suddenly, bright rays of holy light fell upon us all as the OVERCHARGE WAS REMOVED FROM THE TICKET.

And there was much rejoicing.

He was given control of the console once again, and proceeded to instruct the agent of our robot overlords on his intended method of payment for his $48.76 worth of goods.

The guy paid with A CHECK!



Good thing my internal monologue is inaudible to the public.

Now then, with HIM gone, I can get MY stuff done the RIGHT way!

Coke *blieunp* into the bag, cake *blieunp* into the ba--“There is an error. Please place the item you scanned into the bag.”

Huh? I did, you stupid, soothing-woman-voiced robot! I waited and then she said I could go on and scan more things--peanut brittle *blieunp* into the ba--“There is an error. Please place the item you scanned into the bag. There is a weight error.” Whhyyy, I oughta… I scanned the last thing *blieunp* and got the error message again, which meant that now I was the one needing assistance. The abject humiliation. The WASTAGE OF MY PRECIOUS TIME! GRRRR! “Ma’am?” The crone who’d helped the previous customer came over, “Ma’am, it says error on there and I’ve only got these four--” “Well, hold on, hon--it says here you have got what’s called a “weight error,” and I have to clear that off so you can check out.” More pushing of imaginary buttons, and after saying a brief incantation, the error was removed. Debit card, no cash back, out the door. Why, that only took THIRTY MINUTES.

Back up to the church building, where the kids did things and I commiserated with one of the moms back in the kitchen on my travails. Seems it’s a pretty common complaint. Go figure!

Anyway, from there it was time to head back toward Trussville, and go to…


Ashley and Rebecca still had some leftover money on their gift cards from Christmas, and this was about the only time we could find a chance for them to go get some inexpensive crap. ::sigh::

Spent three hours there. Thankfully, the checkout process was much quicker than it had been at the other Wal-Mart at lunchtime. Back to the house to get something we’d forgotten, and then back to church, and then back home, where it was time for…



Oldest, who had all weekend to read and research for some silly paper on Amerigo Vespucci, had instead NOT. And now, it was late Sunday, and she had to write something. And, of course, I had to find her a picture of Amerigo Vespucci on the Internet. First one was this.

“But that’s too big--it has to go on the paper.”

Would have been SO nice to have known that beforehand, you know. Again, I am grateful my thoughts don’t have a loudspeaker. Back to the box, and then THIS came out. Better. I guess. All I got was a grunt.

And then there was the whole peculiar thing about the manner in which the paper was supposed to be written. She told Mom that the teacher told them it had to be written in Old English. By which, I think was meant, “Old” English--the sort of made-up crap they do on all those princess movies where they misuse “thee” and “thou” and “whence.” HOWEVER, Reba was thinking she meant that it had to LOOK like Old English text, and so then told her to write it up and Dad would type it on the computer and then print it out in Old English.

I think.

Anyway, when I went into her room, she thrust her notebook at me and started a stream of high-pitched jibber-jabber. “Whoa, just give it here--you need this typed, right?” “Yes--it has to be written in Old English.”

I walked back to our bedroom with the notebook, and then I began to have those uncomfortable thoughts. “Reba, when she said she had to write it in Old English, did she mean, ‘in something like the way Old English sounds,’ or did she mean, ‘something that looks like the way Old English looks’?”

She thought look. I thought I might better check. “Ashley, when your teacher said this had to be written in Old English, did he mean, ‘in something like the way Old English sounds,’ or did he mean, ‘something that looks like the way Old English looks’?”

“Sounds--like the way they talked. Mom said you could put it on the computer and it would make it into Old English.”


I explained that this was not quite possible given our current level of software and hardware. “You’ll just have to make it up.” “BUT HOW!?” Now this, coming from someone who has seen every stupid princess movie with unconvincing made-up dialogue ever made, and constantly reads those long-winded faux-medieval teen novels about things in Old England. “Just fake it--throw in some thees and thous and whences and be done with it because it’s late and you need to finish up and go to bed.”

And then, last night, I asked if she’d turned it in. She had. And now it seems the teacher will be satisfied if it’s in just regular English.

Did I say ::sigh:: yet? Oh. Well, never mind then.

And no, I don’t know why we’d want use Old English rather than Early Modern English to discuss a late-15th, early 16th Century Italian explorer.

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