Apparently, my local boutique’s computer rules the planet 

server farm

No, this isn’t an NSA server farm. It’s the database for my local boutique. Apparently, they need to know everything about you before you can buy a $12 package of Epsom bath salts.

I stopped at a small boutique after work to buy my friend, Vanessa, a package of eucalyptus Epsom salts for a gift.

A young man was standing behind the counter at the front of the store, typing on a computer. I approached him to pay.

“Hello, sir,” he said, smiling at me as I set the Epsom salts on the counter. “Will that be all?”

“That’s it,” I said.

He starting typing on the computer, his fingers rattling over the keys as if he were typesetting the collected works of Shakespeare. I stared at him as he stared at the screen.

“OK. Perfect.” The clerk picked up the package of Epsom salts and studied it, his lips scrunched. Then he set it back down and continued to type.

Again, I stared at him as he stared at the screen.

“Can’t you just scan a barcode, or something?” I asked, as the clerk continued to type.

He glanced at me. “I’m sorry?”

“Nothing. Please continue.”

The clerk turned back to his screen and continued typing. I stared at him as he stared at the screen.

Finally, I sighed and said, “I’m sorry, but could you possibly take a break from writing the Great American Novel and ring me up, here? I’m late for dinner.” 

The clerk glanced at me. “I’m sorry?”

“You should give you fingers a rest,” I said. “Even Stephen King doesn’t write that much in a day.”

“I’m just setting up the transaction, sir. We’ll have you out of here in an instant.”

“An instant, or an epoch?” I asked. “Because dinosaurs were still ruling the planet when you started ringing me up. A triceratops was driving the taxicab that brought me here.”

But the clerk didn’t hear me. He was too busy typing.

I knew the Epsom salts cost $12, plus a little more with tax. So as the clerk typed, I took out my wallet and extracted a twenty, just to get ahead of the game.

“OK, sir.” The clerk finally stopped typing and glanced at me. “Can I get your first and last name, please?”

“I’m paying with cash,” I said, handing him the twenty.

“Yes, well, I still need your first and last name, please.” His fingers hovered over the keyboard, like tiny snakes poised to strike.

“You don’t need my first and last name because I’m paying with cash,” I said, holding the twenty for him to see.

“But the computer is asking me for your first and last name.”

I took a long, deep breath. “And why is the computer asking for my first and last name?”

“Because I need to set you up with an account. Sir.”

“But I don’t want an account. Son. I just want to pay for my item and leave.”

“I … oh.” The clerk stared at the monitor, scratching his chin. “Yeah … um … the thing is, the computer is prompting me to create an account for you.”

I glared at him, a vein forming in my forehead. “Then tell the computer I don’t want an account.”

The clerk’s forehead wrinkled as he stared intently at the monitor. “I’m not seeing an option to do that, sir.”

“So the computer dictates the narrative?” I asked. “The computer writes the play, and we act out the parts? The computer issues a royal proclamation, and every peasant in the kingdom must bow down and abide? Is that what you’re saying? The computer is an all-powerful, almighty force whose will must be obeyed without objection or question?”

The clerk didn’t answer. He was too busy staring at the monitor.

“I’m paying for this in cash, whether the computer wants me to or not,” I said. “So either you bypass the prompt, or I’ll take my business elsewhere.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to create an account?” the clerk asked me, tilting his head. “You’ll get five percent off your next purchase if you do.”

The vein that had formed in my forehead started to pulsate. “I just want to pay for my purchase and leave. That’s all I want to do. I want to give you American currency in exchange for a product, and I want to leave the premises with said product in hand. You don’t even have to bag the damn thing. At this point, I just want to get the hell out of here.”

“I’m sorry you don’t want to save five percent on your next purchase, sir. You’re missing out.” The clerk started to type manically on the keyboard. I stared at him as he stared at the screen.

I didn’t realize it, but my right hand, which was resting on the counter, was curling into a fist.

“Well?” I asked, when the clerk finally stopped typing.

“You’re not going to like this,” he said, clucking his tongue, “but I can’t bypass the prompt.”

I stared at him, my body trembling. I sucked in a long breath and then blew it our for 10 seconds.

The clerk frowned. “Are you OK, sir?”

“I’m not a violent person,” I said, “but right now, I’m resisting the urge to leap this counter and knock out your teeth with this bag of Epsom salts.”

“If you don’t want to use your real name, do you just want to give me an alias?” the clerk asked. “If I put an alias into the system, maybe I can bypass the prompt.”

The vein protruding from my forehead now had its own heartbeat. “I just want to pay with cash.”

“I understand that, sir, but the computer won’t let me bypass the prompt. If you can just give me a first and last name for the system, I can ring you up and get you out of here.”

I glared at him, raking my teeth over my lower lip. “First name: Joe-Mama. Last name: Izahoe.”

The clerk raised his eyebrows. “Izahow?”

“Izahoe. Is. A. Hoe. Izahoe.”

“Oh.” He gazed at the monitor, typing. “Any relation to the Izahoes in North Carolina? My parents used to golf with a John and Clarice Izahoe.”

“Just type in the damn name,” I said, growling.

The clerk continued typing for another seven minutes. I stared at him as he stared at the screen.

By now, the vein in my forehead was going into cardiac arrest.

“OK,” the clerk said, “I think we got it. The computer’s just asking me for your street address, home phone number, work phone number, e-mail address, Social Security Number, Twitter handle, Facebook profile, and the name of your favorite childhood pet.”

The clerk looked up. “Sir? Sir? Where did you go?”

He looked over the counter to find me lying on the floor, curled up in the fetal position. I was holding my aching forehead in my hands.

“Are you OK, Mr. Izahoe?” the clerk asked.

“I have a splitting headache,” I said, my voice soft.

“Oh,” the clerk said. “You know what you should do? You should take an Epsom salt bath when you get home. The minerals are supposed to soak into your skin and help relieve stress.”

I mumbled something.

The clerk leaned farther over the counter. “I’m sorry, sir? I didn’t catch that.”

I mumbled the same thing again.

“Well!” the clerk said, standing up and frowning. “That was uncalled for! I don’t intend to shove the Epsom bath salts anywhere!”

And with that, he turned to his computer and started typing, angrily.

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13 thoughts on “Apparently, my local boutique’s computer rules the planet 

    1. Colane Conundrum Post author

      I’m always amazed how a simple purchase transaction can turn into this excruciating ordeal on par with a tooth extraction. It’s almost as if the goal is to ensure I’ll never go in there again. 😐

      I like Joe-Mama, too. That’s what I plan to name my firstborn. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  1. In My Cluttered Attic

    That clerk sure gets around. I’m almost certain I ran into him at Bath and Body Works, Target, Macy’s, Sears, J.C Penny’s, and Sam’s Pot Shop, and all of them TODAY! Okay, I’m a secret shopper, but that’s besides the point. The point is… HE SURE GETS AROUND! And that’s another thing, what about that computer, huh? I think IT’S behind everything. Ever heard Donald Trump talk, Hillary Clinton scream, Vladimir Putin Smirk, or old Mrs, Smith (from around the corner) having to ask for her receipt at Petco, when paying for Mr. Furrypaws new diamond studded collar? Uh huh, well then you know what I’m talking about. And why did I have to give my license to that cop who pulled me over for running a red light this morning? Doesn’t the computer already know that I ran the red light because it is communicating WITH the red light—even as we speak? Also, I think the cop—and I know this might be hard to believe coming from me—but I think the cop may actually be… AN ANDROID! NO… not the phone silly, but a REAL ANDROID, spawned by the computer! You know, like DATA from Star Trek the Next Generation. Yeah, AMAZING, huh? You know, Allen, I think you and I need to get out there and tell people. We should start today in fact… well, right after I get some barbecue spare ribs that is. But right after that! Anyway, THE PEOPLE HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW! Just saying. Allen, you may have just blown the lid off this whole computer controlling the clerks at retail stores, red light, android cop thing before that guy…what’s his name, oh yeah… Edward Snowden ever found out about it! Boy, I could sure use a nap right now, but call me when you’re ready to get started on this tonight, okay? I can’t wait to tell…Hal… this news outta excite him, and he never gets excited about anything. I met him online. I’ll have to introduce you to him. I’ve never seen him, he only communicates with me on the computer, but I’ve talked to him on the phone. He has this weird monotone voice, but you’d like him. Okay, later man.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Colane Conundrum Post author

      Hey Paul! You’re exactly right — that clerk DOES get around. Either that, or they’ve cloned him using some sort of sophisticated retail software, developed in secret by the CIA.

      But if they’re going to do all that, then couldn’t they just invent a cash register that works? I’m tired of just standing there while the clerk runs my item over the scanner 43 times, then desperately tries to type in the 2,456-digit code. 😐

      Like

      1. In My Cluttered Attic

        I know exactly what you mean, Allen. I tried to write my congressman about how this sort of thing never happens to me when I drive through a McDonalds. I was told he was on vacation… again! But then, that’s fast food for ya. And I also think your right about that clown cloning thing, too. Notice how they’re everywhere now! What a sinister lot the CIA is. I’ve always suspected the Culinary Institute of America was behind the way cash registers and cashiers work or rather—don’t work. When you think about it, it all makes perfect sense. You know…food…cash registers? See what I mean… there’s a vague sort of connection there, but it’s there! And another thing, I think those scanners are nothing more than fiber optic cameras hiding under the glass recording our finger prints. Ever get a a real close look at the glass… all those finger prints. No wonder the clerks have to type in 15 billion numbers. They’re probably just hoping they guess the right combination to open the drawer! Its all some sort of alien plot, probably from somewhere in Mexico. No wonder The Donald wants to erect a wall… all those illegal aliens! Oh this thing is big… REAL BIG, let me tell ya, and Area 51 is hiding it from us! Thank god you and I aren’t conspiracy theorist, or our imaginations would run away with us.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Colane Conundrum Post author

        The Culinary Institute of America is terrifying with their subterfuge. You never want to make enemies of them. Behind closed doors — kitchen doors, that is — they’ll work in secret to under-season your entree, or to sprinkle lawn clippings instead of parsley. One of their most egregious crimes was serving me a well-done steak when I clearly ordered medium-rare.

        Most of the time you can recognize them by their hairnets or tall hats, but other times they lurk in the shadows, plotting in secret behind pantry doors.

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