Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Scariest Ad Ever

Driving to the office yesterday I heard the scariest ad of all time. Granted, the purpose of this ad was not to scare potential customers, but after hearing the ad I can tell you I am scared to death to walk into their stores.

In the past I've had many posts about trips into grocery stores. One of my favorite inventions of the past five years has been the self checkout lane because it eliminates potential social interactions. A few months ago I heard in on the radio in another city, don't remember which one, that stores are now taking them out because these may harm "store loyalty." Anyway, the radio ad I heard yesterday proudly claimed that you will never find a self checkout lane in their stores and... and... are you ready for this? Truly, are you ready because this is the scariest line in any ad of ALL TIME! The ad continued on and stated that, when checking out, there's a good chance you will be engaged in conversation with the checker outter.

For those not on the spectrum the world might be turning into a cold place as things become automated and that human connection in the world is being cut on what would seem to be a daily basis. However, things like the automated checkout lane helps me because it minimizes the social situations. So many times when I am spoken to by the clerk I just nod, or give one word answers, and the clerk sometimes gets an attitude, or asks, "Are you okay?" and the anxiety felt after such an episode lasts for hours.

My goal as I'm out in public is to stay invisible and to not be spoken to. It takes so much strength to just do the task I'm doing and to not be overwhelmed by everything, every sound, and everybody around me and when I'm spoken to randomly it's like starting the derailing process of a train.

I'm interested to see in five years if the automated lanes still exist because there's going to be a stark divide between those who like it and those who want the chit chat. I can assure you one thing though and that is, and I now Halloween is just around the corner, I wouldn't have to go to a haunted house to be scared to death; all I'd have to do is venture to these chain of stores to truly have a horrifying experience.


  1. So Aaron, I just read your post and I cannot help but think the exact opposite. We live in a social world (that does not make it easy) and as this is a social world we need to interact. Jesus sent his disciples out in pairs so that they could/can interact. The best of Bible parables involve interaction of some kind. The 7 sacraments of the Catholic Church all require at least 2 people and God, we need people! Without people I know I cannot move forward, so yeah small talk might be hard sometimes but it does take me out of myself. Thanks, Steve

    1. Social interactions are emotionally draining for many of us, Steve. That doesn't mean someone is right and someone is wrong. Small talk is downright painful. I am with Aaron on this one. Different strokes...!

  2. I don't believe that automating things takes out human interaction. We're social creatures, we'll instinctively find some other way of interacting, maybe even one that suits us better than the 1-minute interacting moments we have at the checkout counter.
    But isn't there already an option to choose from the self checkout lane and the checkout counter? (correct me if I'm wrong, since I don't live in America) So people who like to interact, can still use the checkout counter, and others can use the self checkout.
    How is this cutting out the interaction? Isn't this making the world easier for both groups of people, the group who wants interaction and the group who doesn't want to and/or is having trouble wih interaction?
    I don't see the need of having to choose between the one or the other. Clearly there's different opinions on which option is better, so providing both options would be the best customers service in my opinion.

    In the Netherlands only one of the most expensive supermarkets (Albert Heijn) as the self checkout option. Since I'm not that rich, I never shop there, meaning I never have this option. By now I have learned how to give the most standard answers to get through the whole checkout process as fast as possible. Luckily the 'checker outters' (as Aaron calls them?) rarely engage in any real conversation, but rather just follow their scripts, which makes it easy to get through the whole thing fast.
    But I must say, when I first used the self checkout in England, I did notice the difference. I wish we had more of those here in the Netherlands.
    As for interactions: I'll have them in my Kansas.

  3. Er, hm..., Ah! No... How do I put this in a nice way?! REALLY?! Not that horrifiying, sheesh... (For the record, I'm kidding, but sarcasm is hard to put into a comment that has no emotion. Except for logical contradictions like "Yeah, giving cleaner energy will condemn this planet to the global warming." or something like that. WOW, that was a long thought I put into this...)

  4. My whole family loves the self-check-out aisles! It has nothing to do with an automated society vs. social interaction. We seek out the interaction we want and are thankful when we are spared unwanted interaction! I'm afraid your store will find out that the self-check-outs actually *help* store loyalty with a lot of customers!