Satire Fiction

The dehumanising, modern-day shopping experience

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Self-serve checkouts have become the norm (image via YouTube)

We have been made to work through the prevalence of "self-service", writes John Longhurst.

MICK TYPED at a furious pace on his laptop. In between chuckles, he wiped away beads of perspiration from his forehead.

After landing the schooners Bazza rubbed his chin a number of times and raised both eyebrows.

Mick looked up, nodded to Bazza and took a long sip before again attacking the keyboard.

A long "ah" from Mick and a click of the tongue.

He said:

“That should do it, Bazza, have a read.”

Mick turned the laptop around, as Bazza adjusted his reading glasses.

The letter read:

Dear Manager,


I have been shopping at your store for a number of years and have noticed a sharp decline in customer service and a major uptick in my responsibilities whilst shopping. In fact, at times I need a telescope and a loud howler to get attention. It won’t surprise me if David Attenborough puts out a documentary on the near extinct shop assistant. He could be on hands and knees with a torch trying to coax out a shop assistant with "What aisle is the Vegemite in"?


I have no problems bringing my own shopping bags to the store, but I take objection to weighing, scanning and packing my purchases. The deliberate policy to corral customers to the self serve checkout by understaffing the regular checkouts would bring a smile to a cattle farmer...

Bazza paused for a chuckle and a sip.

'Over the past month, I have had to help half a dozen old people…'

Bazza eyeballed Mick:

“Well, older than me, Bazza.”

It read, further:

… to work their way through the self serve checkout. I would like to nominate myself for Employee of the Month. Also find attached my bill of $49.46 for two hours work as a Retail Employee Level 1 under the General Retail Industry Award. I also include my measurements for a staff uniform.


Finally, given my ongoing employment contribution to your excessive profits, please ensure I am invited to the staff Christmas Party.


Kind regards,


Bazza ran his hand across his mouth and smiled widely.

He said:

“All very militant of you, Mick. Crikey, you might have to start up your very own shoppers’ trade union. You know, I did read somewhere the average supermarket sells twice as many carrots than they stock, go figure that one.”

Mick grinned and took a long sip.“Well. It is easy to mistake a mango for a carrot, Bazza.”

A long pause and Bazza surveyed the bar:

“I guess it won’t be long before the pub becomes self-service, Mick. No doubt some kind of machine that pours a beer and in time, with artificial intelligence people will sit round and chat to their laptops rather than engage in conversations.”

Mick grinned.

“Thats not all bad news, Bazza. You might be able to reach agreement in a conversation for a change.”

John Longhurst is a former industrial advocate and political adviser. He currently works as an English and History teacher on the South Coast of NSW.

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