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The archetypes of supermarket self service at the Erindale Woolies

By johnboy 15 July 2009 36

In our earlier discussion of the merits of self-service at supermarket checkouts in Canberra Woody Mann-Caruso has devoted some time to the different characters inhabiting the self service lines at the Erindale Woolworths.

I enjoyed it enough to give it some light editing and a reposting as its own story. So here they are:

Which self serve archetypes do you hate the most? (Choose two)

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    Broccoli Man:

    Broccoli Man believes there is a tiny person in the checkout. By waving his broccoli in front of the machine, he shows it to the tiny person who (a) can tell that it’s broccoli and (b) can tell exactly what it weighs. Isn’t technology wonderful? Broccoli Man is endlessly disappointed when he puts the broccoli in the bag only to get an angry beep. Rather than trying something different, Broccoli Man just does the same thing over and over and over again until the attendant shows him how to Look Up Item. Then he tries to scan the next non-scannable item.

    Trolley Woman:

    Trolley Woman has eleven thousand items in her trolley. Trolley Woman is determined to scan each and every one in a particular order. See, Trolley Woman is rummaging for something at the bottom of the trolley. Now she looks at it. She looks at the bag. She looks at the item. She looks at the bag. She realises her error – it is not the shampoo’s destiny to be scanned now. Back in the trolley, and more rummaging.

    Homeschool Mother:

    Homeschool Mother lets her two very special children with their very special home haircuts and their very special home-knit Jesus Jumpers take turns picking what they want to scan, then watches them fight over who gets to scan it, then lets them fight over who puts it in the bag. She does this for all four hundred Sanitarium carob products in her trolley. God bless them all.

    Premature Lad:

    Premature Lad doesn’t wait for the green light. He wants this done as fast as he can. He scans and scans and scans and throws it all in the bag, then frowns at the red light. His wife frowns, too. I don’t wonder why one little bit.

    Alphabet Man:

    Alphabet Man knows how to use the ‘Look Up Item’ button, so in a way he’s ahead of Broccoli Man. However, he doesn’t know what ‘alphabetical order’ means, and so scrolls up and down the screens looking for ‘apples’ after ‘asparagus’.

    Retina Dysfunction Girl:

    Born with the rods and cones in her eyes upside down and with a dodecahedrol lens, she cannot find bar codes on objects. Any object. Ever. Watch as she turn the Just Right box round and round and round and round. “It’s on the bottom,” I cough helpfully. “Thanks,” she says. Then she does the same thing with the next Just Right box.

    What Line Dude:

    What Line Dude figures that there are six checkouts, so there should be six lines. Here, he’ll just start line number two right at the front, and the thirty people in line number one can just got f*** themselves.

    You Serve Self Serve Lady:

    YSSS Lady loves the convenience of the self-serve checkouts. She particularly loves making the attendant scan and bag every single one of her items for her, because she doesn’t know how it works.

    Random Slot Guy:

    Random Slot Guy puts his money in the EFTPOS machine. The change slot. He tries scanning the money. He’s confused. His girlfriend is unhappy. Again, we know why.

    Transformation Man:

    TM has pulled the stems off those gourmet tomatoes. He presses Look Up Item and selects the cheap tomatoes. He rings up that bag of $12.99/kg snow peas as $3.99 green beans. Those $7.99 Lebanese cucumbers are $2.99 zucchinis. He doesn’t seem to get caught. Once, the attendant stops him. “Sorry,” he says, “wasn’t thinking.” The attendant smiles and says it’s OK. I think this is why I hate him the most. That, or because he has his new HSV parked in a disabled space and he isn’t.

What’s Your opinion?

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36 Responses to
The archetypes of supermarket self service at the Erindale Woolies
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busgirl 9:40 pm 17 Oct 09

…can’t believe I missed this post first time round…Hilarious!!

…I’m too scared to use the self-serve checkouts… :-S

deezagood 7:29 pm 17 Oct 09

This as sooo funny … and now you know why I am too scared to use the self-serve checkouts … I really (really) don’t want to become any of the above (suspect I’d be the serve self serve lady, at least for the first time!!!).

bubzie 6:28 pm 17 Oct 09

One mounth after that, and i think you might be quite right.

….at woolies.

Broccoli man, what line dude, and you-serve-self-serve lady keep on popping up…hourly. 🙁

misshelly 5:59 am 05 Sep 09

FKNLOL @ this thread!!!

This is why I don’t use the self serve checkouts… I’m too scared of being someone on that list 🙁

curvyfiddle 10:09 pm 04 Sep 09

Dear God – three months down the track – and it’s possible to see evolution in progress! Mutations have begun on all of the above – scary survival of the fittest mutations. We’re all doomed!

Anna Key 6:23 pm 19 Jul 09

Just returned from Erindale and most of them were there, although the you serve self serve lady was a man, but did also seem to have strong random slot guy characteristics. To avoid my own potential embarrassment, I went through the express lane instead.

Granny 10:16 pm 15 Jul 09

Why have I never thought to haggle with the computers? *lol*

ant 10:05 pm 15 Jul 09

Ivan76 said :

Most likely to try to haggle with the computers also…

Har! Too true.

I give you ten? Ten? Not twenty. Ten.

bd84 9:14 pm 15 Jul 09

LlamaFrog said :

seem to be missing, competent git, who walks up the machine, everything works first time, takes his items and walks away with a smirk on his face at everybody else’s issues.

I quite enjoy my 30 second visit to the self-serve checkout, scan my 4 items put them on the tray, put money I have already prepared in/or swiped and pinned my credit card then carried my items away without a plastic bag, smiling walking past dumb and dumber putting one item into each bag after doing everything described in the main post. Also, all the examples above are repeated in almost exactly the same way at a human serve checkouts, you cannot escape them.

Just writing my post I have realised there is one person missing from the list. The person who loads everything as slow as possible, waits until the final amount is displayed then proceeds to fish about in their handbag for their purse. After 5 minutes of searching then proceeds to look through the numerous pockets of their purse searching for every piece of small change possible to pay with or spends another 5 minutes deciding which of her 10 credit cards she has not maxxed out this month.

Granny 7:49 pm 15 Jul 09

Oh, I wish you had the camera rolling, bubzie! How funny!

Ivan76 7:49 pm 15 Jul 09

Loose Brown said :


But you forgot New Australian:

New Australian approaches the self serve in a timid fashon. Watch as it becomes apparent that New Australian cannot read or write in English. Listen as the machine provides New Australian with totally undecipherable gibberish. New Australian stares uncomprehensively at the machine, and then around at the other five New Australians doing the same thing at every other self serve point.

This process usually starts with the New Australian just standing in the middle of the walkway blocking everyone around them whilst they stare blankly at the checkouts.

the same hesitation & blank stare confronts them when they actually make it to the counter as well and they have an uncannny knack of being able to take up your personal space from the ajacent counter.

Most likely to try to haggle with the computers also…

bubzie 7:45 pm 15 Jul 09


I work in big dub, and actulary DID witness most of this today.. :s (Broccoli man turned into a …credit card man. oh lord.) And i saw someone put their eftpos card in the notes in slot..which if someone didnt stop them/distract them, would of actulary eaten it up..sigh.

SheepGroper 7:21 pm 15 Jul 09

Mr Waffle said :

I’ve never used a self-serve lane before, I feel left out. Forgive my ignorance, but… what’s to stop someone just not scanning stuff they’ve got?


toriness 7:18 pm 15 Jul 09

omg that was hilarious!!!!!! i can’t decide between ‘homeschool mother’ (no i don’t find your children cute or amusing AT ALL – I WANT TO DO MY SHOPPING AND GET HOME AND AWAY FROM YOUR ANNOYING CHILDREN); ‘what line dude’ (you know there’s a fcking line you ^!(@&^!&@@(! – don’t make me come over and point this out to you! i have actually done this at the big w self-serve area); or ‘transformation man’ (everyone hates anyone who inevitably makes the system more complicated and time-consuming to catch mongrels like this when 95% of us are honest).

Mr Waffle 7:13 pm 15 Jul 09

I’ve never used a self-serve lane before, I feel left out. Forgive my ignorance, but… what’s to stop someone just not scanning stuff they’ve got? Is there someone looming over watching you to make sure it’s all correct?

housebound 6:47 pm 15 Jul 09

This has convinced me that the tactic of always avoiding self-serve is a good one. And it keeps someone in a meaningless and repetitive job that has the sole advantage of paying someone an income.

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