Yesterday, an old man said to me (whilst using the self-service till, might I add) that he didn’t like the self-service tills because they put people out of work.
I can see where he thinks he’s coming from, but I don’t agree.
First of all, machines are a long way off from being able to work by themselves, currently they still need to be manned by staff. Everyone knows this, the machines aren’t perfect, they go wrong all the time and most of the time it’s a customer error. For him to assume that self-checkouts will put people out of work is ignorant.
Secondly, at the rate this world’s population is expanding, we’re going to eventually require more staff and tills to cope with the sheer amount of consumers. Think back 100 years, how small shops used to be, how few cars were on the road etc. Populations, shop sizes, traffic etc. Everything will increase in numbers, and the tills will still need to be manned by staff.
Thirdly, (and this is what I think he was concerned with the most) I don’t think he really gave a damn that they would put people out of work, he just didn’t like the idea of being served by a machine which has no concept of emotions.
As cashiers, we get treated like robots all the time. Some customers seem to think that we have no emotional capacity, they think they can say whatever they please and we won’t feel the sting of their insults or their harassment.
And then there’s the ones that are perfectly aware of our feelings, and revel in the sick joy that they can bully us, be as rude as they like and we can’t do much to defend ourselves, because we have rules to abide by - like a code we’re programmed to follow.
Now imagine those customers trying to use all those tactics on a non-sentient machine. Imagine how frustrating it’ll be for them to want to scream and shout, to stamp their feet and bark orders, only to hear one of few monotone responses from a machine that is completely unaware that it has just been the victim of verbal abuse!