Column: Why I like grocery self-checkout lanes
Lingering in grocery stores is not for me. I don’t browse; I know what I want and get it.
That’s why I like self-checkout lanes. You do the scanning yourself, and you usually don’t have to wait in line.
Three stores in the area offer the self-checkout option – Kroger in Sterling and the Walmarts in Sterling and Dixon.
Years ago, I worked as a grocery bagger. I never imagined that customers one day would check out their own items.
What about the chance of theft? The counters have scales, making it difficult to avoid scanning items. Besides, an employee watches over the self-checkout stations.
I go to Kroger and Walmart in Sterling, among other places, for my grocery shopping. I have noticed that the younger customers are, the more likely they are to use the self-checkout lanes. Maybe that is because they are more comfortable with new technology.
My cousin, who nearly always grabs on to the latest technology, won’t use self-checkout lanes. She objects because they put people out of work.
In the short term, she is right. Over time, however, technology makes society more efficient. And prices fall. That frees up resources for other endeavors. That’s why Americans are able to spend much more of their income on vacations, restaurants and other non-necessities than they could 50 years ago.
That same cousin uses ATMs, which almost certainly put a bunch of human tellers out of work.
She has come to accept them; after all, they’ve been around a long time.
One of my more technologically savvy co-workers told me he uses the self-checkout lane if he has a few items. But he said he prefers human cashiers when his cart is fuller. They can scan faster.
In other words, grocery store cashiers probably will not soon become a thing of the past.
More and more info on websites
The other day, I was visiting the website for the Erie school district, and I was pleasantly surprised. The district maintains an archive of its meeting minutes and agendas going back to 2007.
That’s a long time, especially for a small school district such as Erie, which has about 700 students.
Bigger school districts have more employees, making them better-positioned to have the time to post to their websites.
Yet the archives for the Sterling and Dixon school districts aren’t nearly as comprehensive as Erie’s. Sterling, with 3,551 students, has minutes on its site going back to 2009 and Dixon, with 2,380 students, to 2011.
I also was happy to find that nearly all school districts in the area include minutes and agendas on their sites, including Amboy, Morrison, River Bend (Fulton) and Ashton-Franklin Center. The Prophetstown-Lyndon-Tampico district had a regular process of posting minutes, but it stopped in December.
Minutes can give a good idea about what public agencies are up to. Some minutes are better than others. Erie, for instance, details issues before the board, even when they’re controversial.
I also like what Morrison provides on its website. The school district posts all of the backup documentation that it gives its board members for their meetings – that’s a wealth of information. I haven’t found another school district that does this.
One area where school districts fall behind is the posting of contact information for school board members. A few in the area give email addresses, but none provides personal phone numbers.
Other entities do, including the Lee and Whiteside county boards and the city councils for Sterling, Rock Falls and Morrison (although Dixon does not).
Many elected officials’ numbers are in the local phone book, but some are not. If you’re a public servant, shouldn’t you be accessible to the people you serve?
Sauk Valley Media reporter David Giuliani covers the Whiteside and Lee county governments, Morrison and other smaller communities. He can be reached at dgiuliani@saukvalley or at 800-798-4085, ext. 525.