Sunset Over The Recycling Bins

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The Kroger at Brewers’ Yard hosts an impressive array of recycling bins. We made full use of them today, making three trips with full carloads of deconstructed cardboard boxes and packing paper. When the last carload was delivered the sun was setting, making for as picturesque a scene as you could hope for when recycling bins are involved.

So, we’ve been socially responsible, and now our house is largely box and paper-free. It’s a good feeling both ways.

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Those Carping Computer Voices

Whenever I am in the drive-through lane and have to unbuckle my seat belt to retrieve my wallet, an insistent computer voice repeats “Please fasten seat belt” until I comply.  (What, they don’t use definite articles in the computer world?)

When I am in the self check-out lane at our neighborhood Kroger, an annoying computer voice instructs me to “place item in the bagging area” — and it does it every time I scan an item and don’t instantly hurl it into a bag.  This computer voice is not only bossy, it also apparently thinks I’m such an idiot that I can’t remember a simple instruction throughout the check-out process, so it needs to remind me again and again and again.  I find myself speeding up the scanning and bagging process in hopes of avoiding that irritating voice.  (Hey, do you suppose that’s why they have the computer voice in the first place?)

It seems like everywhere we go we hear those aggravating, soulless mechanical voices telling us what to do and badgering us until we do their bidding.  I object not only to the dead-sounding voices, but also to the fact that the computer voices are always bugging us rather than encouraging us. Why not have a voice, sounding like the Bill Murray lounge singer from Saturday Night Live, that says “Looking good!” every time you get in the car, start the ignition and look in the rear view mirror?  Why not have the car say “Great driving today!” when you get to your destination and put the car in park?  Why not have the Kroger voice say “Way to go with the healthy eating!” when you drag the salad fixings across the scanner or “Hey, that looks good!” when you scan that frozen pizza?

We’re destined to hear hectoring computer voices for the rest of our lives.  I’d be more willing to put up with them if they paid me a compliment once in a while.

Back To The Days Of Friendly Sam Drucker

The Albertson’s grocery store chain, which does business in the south and west, is eliminating self-checkout lanes in its stores because the stores want “the opportunity to talk to customers more.”  According to the article, other chains are considering following suit.

I’m opposed to getting rid of self-checkout lanes.  They are irritating, of course, with the female voice that constantly tells you to “place the item in the bag” and asks “do you have any coupons?”  But I’m willing to put up with the irritation in order to avoid waiting in line behind someone who has a huge cartload.

I’m curious, however, about what the Albertsons chain thinks cashiers are going to talk to the customers about.  It’s as if they envision a return to the days of Sam Drucker behind the counter at the Hooterville General Store, where a customer and Sam could sit down by the cracker barrel and trade gossip about the crazy doings of the Douglases at their Green Acres farm.  It makes me wonder if anyone in management at Albertsons has actually been through a grocery store check-out lane recently.

I’m not sure what I would do if one of the local Kroger or Giant Eagle cashiers tried to engage me in conversation.  The harried cashiers quickly swiping items typically don’t even make eye contact, much less engage in deep discussions.  And even if the cashiers were riveting conversationalists, I’m confident that the people waiting in line aren’t going to be happy about the cashier and the customer chewing the fact instead of moving as quickly as they can.

Long live self-checkout lanes!

A Grocery Store in Downtown Columbus (sort of)

More and more people move to downtown Columbus each year, but the area still lacks many amenities essential for sustaining a community, such as grocery stores. After moving downtown, my friends and I quickly learned that the closest place to buy beer in the evening is a Sunoco gas station near the Courthouse building, about ten blocks away.

So when a friend of mine told me there is a Kroger downtown on Front St., I told him he must be mistaken. I looked it up later out of curiosity and learned that my friend was partly right – there is a Kroger on Front St., but it is in the Brewery District just outside the limits of downtown. I walked over there one day to check it out and took some pictures:

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Even though it’s not technically downtown, it’s close enough to provide some support for the downtown community. It’s presence there shows how far the area has come in the past few years.

As you can see, it’s a pretty nice Kroger. It has a much more urban feel than most locations. The brick design of the building is clearly meant to follow the Brewery district style. The inside reminds me of Whole Foods and Giant Eagle, with a large selection of alternative, “organic” foods.

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Downtown residents may have a better option soon. An expansion plan for the Arena District calls for a Giant Eagle to be built close to the North Market. Unfortunately, plans have been postponed because of the recession.