Out here in the boonies of Greater Vancouver (which is to say dangerously close to Burnaby), our grocery shopping options are as follows (in geographical order closest to our house to farthest):

Banana Grove

Great Canadian Superstore

Pricesmart Foods (which is a fancy way of saying Save On Foods)

We only occasionally shop at BG because although it is 2 blocks away, everything is expensive (Over $5 for a 2L bottle of sody pop, for example). Also, the staff and patrons there are for the most part annoying. Really I’d say the only thing going for it is the deli counter which is too crowded to maneuver in.

We used to shop at Superstore but, uh…well, to quote the Simpsons, “shopping is a mind-boggling experience.”

Now we shop at Pricesmart. We like it because it’s cheaper, it’s not as packed with customers as the other stores, and has the organic options that Deanna craves. The part I don’t like about it is the points. POINTS! Too many points in this world. Shopping is not a video game. I don’t need the high score. Can I convert my points into gold coins? Or even copper coins? No…no I cannot.

Although second last trip the clerk did ask me if I wanted to redeem some of my points to get my 4L jug o’ milk for free. Hell yes! And all this time I thought I’d die with the most points on my card. So I guess it’s not all bad.

This weekend we took another trip to Pricesmart and it was unusually busy. We decided to try the “self-checkout” because it would be faster and more efficient, right? Robotic logic is infallible, right? The future is friendly, right?


I scanned the first item. The screen gave me the price and told me to bag it. We brought our own grocery carrier bag-deal, of course, being environmentally conscious. So Deanna put it in our carrier which rested on the floor. RoboClerk did not understand that. I tried to scan another item but could only press the button “I DO NOT WISH TO BAG THIS ITEM.”

Great! Next item. Same deal. Every time we scanned something I had to wait and press that on screen button. Except on the fourth time RoboClerk halted the entire procedure and told me to wait while a customer service clerk was summoned. He arrived swiftly, entered his login code, and overrode RoboClerk. He said it might ask us a few more times to do that but eventually it should let us bag the stuff in our own way.

Except for the time we actually did put some stuff in the bagging area. And the time we took that stuff on the bagging area. And the time we tried to scan broccoli. And when it didn’t compute the weight of our cloth bag. And when we tried to use the coupon we got when we entered the store. Every time something like this happened one of the PriceSmart managerial types had to come over, scan in their card or punch in their login, and smooth over relations between RoboClerk and us. “This isn’t really designed for large orders” was to be heard.

So perhaps if we were a little more seasoned in the use of RoboClerk, the entire operation wouldn’t have taken twice as long as waiting in the regular line up. Plus RoboClerk probably would never offer me FREE MILK!!! Certainly not with our tense relationship so far.