Thursday, May 24, 2012

Unexpected Item on the Belt

I was checking out in the Meijer self-serve lane last night. I picked up a container of cherry tomatoes and turned it upside down to scan the UPC code. The container burst open and cherry tomatoes went everywhere.

I could have recovered from the mishap quietly and efficiently, except for the comments from the checkout computer, "Unexpected item on the belt." I scooped tomatoes from the scanner plate, the grocery ledge and the floor. I picked up tomatoes that had rolled on to the belt. The computer kept telling me that it was experiencing something unexpected. I said out loud, "I know." After the second comment, I said, "Sorry, I'm picking these up as fast as I can."

I am reminded of when I turn a different way than my dashboard GPS wants me to. It says, "Recalculating." Sometimes I detect a note of irritability in the device's voice. As if it has had to recalculate once too often along our journey. I have to tell myself that the GPS isn't really upset. It keeps me from apologizing to it.

I bounce my phone on the floor, pick it up and ask, "Are you alright?" I say, "Thank you", to the voice that warns we to be alert at the end of the moving walkway.

I am wondering this morning if it is my ingrained habit of politeness that has me wanting to please the electronics in my life. Or if I've grown so used to (and dependent on!) these electronic assists that I want to stay on their good side.

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