She has a wonderful voice, that Nice Lady inside the Self-Checkout machine at the Purcellville Giant. A melodic voice, a mellifluous set of pipes. The fruity way she says "Welcome!" when you step up to the machine, a strange, slightly foreign-sounding lilt on the "l" that suggests hours and hours in the recording studio to get that "Welcome!" just right... Not sexy, not alluring, just...welcoming.
By this time I will have already scanned my Bonus Card, so it's always touchingly out of whack when she says, "If you have a Bonus Card, please scan it now." Way ahead of you, sister! But I love the darling, cheerful way she reassures me a second or two later, "Your Bonus Card has been accepted!" as if there had ever been any doubt, that I'm just so lucky today, I've just been accepted at the world's most exclusive club...
On she goes, the robotic nature of the prerecorded numbers being assembled inside the machine assuaged by that purring voice, both Mom and Not-Mom... "One...forty-two. Two...ninety-nine. Sixty...six...cents. Savings, thirty...two...cents." The word "savings" must also have been one they worked on for hours in the studio, to get just the right mixture of optimism tempered with congratulation that you -- yes you, you lucky, lucky bastard! -- have just saved thirty...two...cents! But it's not a cloying, phony-sounding congratulation, either. It strikes a perfect balance: Just great, great acting.
I have a definite order in which I scan things. If I'm buying beer or wine, I scan that first, to set in motion the pain-in-the-ass process of the ID check, which has to be done by the (human) attendant. Next, all the stuff with UPC bar-codes. This is the painless part of the process. I save the produce, which you can't scan in the UPC machine, for last. I do this for two reasons. First, looking up each item individually is annoyingly painstaking; you've been scanning 15 items a minute up till now, and tonight's salad alone will take twice that long. But I also save this task for last because the Nice Lady says some more wonderful things...
"Weigh your [Gala apples]... Move your [Gala apples] to the belt... Enter your [limes'] quantity and press 'Enter'... Move your [limes] to the belt..."
Some while ago, I was chatting with a youngster who was attending the Self-Checkout lines. A young man of obvious humor and intelligence, he allowed as to how he found Nice Lady's voice kinda sexy. I agreed warmly, and told him to wait just a second so he could hear her say my absolute, all-time favorite robotic Self-Checkout Nice Lady phrase. "All right, you ready? You listening? OK, here goes..."
"Move your [sweet onions] to the belt..."
We both howled.