Who wants to be a millionaire? | VailDaily.com
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Who wants to be a millionaire?

John Poole

I did it again. Every time I do it I tell myself that there is no way in hell I’ll ever do it again. It’s too much of a strain on my body, too much of a psychological trauma; it’s just downright unhealthy. I’m taking years off my life every time I do it.

Yep, you guessed it, I went to Wal-Mart.

For me, going to Wal-Mart is the equivalent of being in one of those torture devices that stretches your arms and legs while someone (Sam Walton) with a sinister grin on their face slowly turns the crank another notch every few minutes. When I pushed my cart that needs some serious alignment work through the aisle that has items strewn across the floor – crank. When I scour the store for a salesperson to help me find the soy sauce – crank. My arms and legs are at the brink of snapping off in unison while I wait 25 minutes in the check-out line to pay twice as much as I would normally at a grocery store – granted I shoved three times as much stuff in my cart, half of which I probably don’t need. And this is all to save a buck on plastic hangers.

“Bwaaa, haa haa,” says old Sammy while he sits in his leather chair stroking his cat.

On this particular venture into Sammy’s World, after wandering aimlessly around his land of discount, I grew impatient in the check-out line and my eyes drifted to the far end of the store and the (gasp) self check-out. The self check-out line at Wal-Mart is like a beautiful oasis in the middle of the desert after several hours of grueling camelback travel with no water. Is it real? Will I be able to quench my unbearable thirst at this line of only one or two grocery carts? Yes, yes, yes I can!

I remember being drug around the grocery store by my Mom as a kid watching the check out people run each item gracefully across that laser do-hicky. Beep, beep, beep (after two passes). I used to think how easy it must be to scan the bar codes. Why can’t we do this ourselves? I guess I was about 10 years ahead of my time. That will certainly go on my list of missed opportunities to become a millionaire along with combined cell phone MP3 players and car starters on your key chain.

I moved like a fresh-water salmon during egg-laying season through the ferocious stream of grocery carts headed for the torture chamber of conventional check-out. They’re fools! I’ve won! Who’s laughing now, Sammy?

There was only one or two more clicks of the torture wheel before I was controlling my own destiny in front of the self check-out machine.

“Do you have any coupons?”

“Please scan your first item.”

“Place the item -(pause)- in the bag.”

The beauty of technology was clicking the torture wheel gloriously backward. Until, of course, I had to scan a bag of apples. I guess they haven’t figured out how to grow bar codes directly on produce. Maybe that will be the invention that puts me in the millionaire category. Either that, or shopping at Wal-Mart for 50-plus years.

Are they Golden Delicious or Granny Smith? Who the hell knows that? We come to Wal-Mart to save a buck not for a lesson in horticulture (is that right?).

O.K., so I should have known that, but instead I pushed the assistance button several times like you do with an elevator in an effort to make it arrive faster. The friendly Wal-Mart personnel finally arrived and directed me to a sticker on the apple that showed a number I needed to punch in. The wheel clicked one notch forward.

Though they’ve yet to grow bar codes directly on apples, they have figured out that putting a sticker with a number on the apple may expedite the process – provided people see it and know what the hell to do with it.

“Thank you, I can figure it out from here.”


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