How Kroger Is Socially Conditioning You
So, I stopped going to all Kroger-owned stores like Fred Meyers and QFC. I will get my food from my local Seattle co-op, Madison Market, or a farmer’s market, or a Trader Joe’s or a Costco, no matter how much farther I have to go.
Let me tell you why: Kroger hates people.
They hate people so much that they are quietly socially conditioning the populace and union-busting at the same time. I am talking, of course, about auto-checkout machines.
Listen, do you get extra money for checking out your own purchases? No, you do not. By opting in to do this task yourself, you are letting Kroger use less actual manpower, and they get to pocket the difference. You are doing their work for them. They are punking you like a real sucker.
When you go to a restaurant, do you go back into the kitchen and cook the food yourself? When you go to a movie theatre, do you go into the projection booth to start the movie, only after using their popcorn popper to make your popcorn?
But Kroger wants this group mental mind shift to be as innocuous as possible, so they quietly herd people like sheep. We already know how grocery stores put the soy milk all the way in the back so you have to walk through aisles of stuff you buy less often to get to the things you buy more often. I’m sure there are landfills worth of marketing studies on how to best position and light every nook and cranny of the modern grocery store, and the placement of the auto checkout lines are no exception.
Notice how they are always the most direct route through the exit. This is a silent social conditioning cue to make you want to go there first. Is there a sign that says “50 cents off if you check out and bag your own stuff!” No, because the money they save on this is for their own greedy ass. That’s the point. There are only wordless clues to this ongoing attack against human labor.
Next, they have fewer cashiers on hand, so you have longer lines, especially during busy bursts. So not only is the auto-checkout machine a faster route to the exit, those lines may move faster as well.
Finally, there is a manager in a white shirt who stands behind the line to give the illusion there is someone who cares about you looking over things. He or she cranes their head this way and that, shuffling their feet, looking concerned–but only to try and herd you into the slots that will make them the most money when you buy their awful disposable crap and edible foodlike substances. And to watch for shoplifters, of course.
If they really cared about the customer, they would have more people on hand and you would never see long lines.
So as a result, more people have just started doing it themselves and less money has been going to union workers who have been doing the job for years.
And let’s just say: even if you think being a checkout guy or girl is not a great job, you are right. The fact that increasingly the only jobs in America are service jobs is a real shame for a once great economy that used to make stuff. But it is still better than nothing. It is still work. It is better than relying on a social safety net that is getting more paltry every year. It still pays a lot of bills for a lot of people. And you’re not helping them any by checking your own stuff out.
I was first noticing these changes at the north Capitol Hill QFC on Broadway in Seattle, but then I noticed the southern Cap Hill QFC was going a little farther: they have labeled a new line with human interaction as something like ‘Special Services’ and the standard checkout lines with humans manning or womanning them have been reduced to a few and tucked into an awkward corner. Since most people there have apparently already been conditioned to check themselves out, I am guessing this an indication that they will get rid of the usual checkout lines all together and eventually the ‘Special Services’ checkout line with actual humans will cost you an added surcharge. The things they are not wordless about will end up costing you more, of course. After all, they have to pay for the extra signs.
When the most powerful meme in a society is: more corporate profits at any cost–a seriously unsustainable cancer-like model currently destroying an irreplaceable world containing a finite repository of natural resources–then this type of stuff will only increase. When was the last time you heard ‘the customer is always right’? When exactly did this quaint idea die?
Let me ask you, if you are still not convinced: what’s next? When you go to the grocery store in coming years are you going to be shown a pallet and told you need to unload it first and stock the shelves before you are allowed to check out your desired items? (Costco already has the pallets in place.) Then, maybe a couple years later, you need to actually go into the adjacent office and order the product first in bulk. Then when it comes, you go to the store, unload it and stock the shelves with it, and then you may use the auto-checkout machine to check yourselves out. Bah bah, bad sheep.
All the while the owners of that company laugh their ass off and fire more people and pocket the change. This is a recession. Let someone check you out and bag your stuff (with the bag you brought because you care about the earth, of course). You will be helping your fellow nonmillionaire soldiers in the ongoing class war to keep a roof over their heads and feed their children. You will be a modern American hero, and not a sheep. Happy shopping, brothers and sisters. Dr. Menlo’s web site is http://www.drmenlo.com