By Jack H. Smith
Three Forks Voice 

Column: Is that a monster at the self checkout?


I’m okay with getting a little more cynical every day, and I guess it’s just part of my journey of aging.

I’m at the point where most things cause me stress, but a few hit home a little harder. These are just a few examples of the little things that are turning my hair grayer by the day.

I try to shop locally and small as much as I can. It is important. Unfortunately, there are times when I have to venture out to a bigger “box” store, and when the lines are long, I will use self-checkout to get in and out as quickly as possible. Every time I use the self-checkout, I have to watch a video of my every move. I’ll never be mistaken for a Hollywood leading man, but these cameras at the checkout make me look like some monster that emerges from the depths after an earthquake. The camera adds about 150 pounds, sending me into a depression for about three hours. It’s like the worst of the worst driver’s license photo that evolves into something grotesque.

Another thing that grinds my gears is the people who seem to review almost everything on Google and are cavalier about the damage a one-star review can do to a business. Often there is some personal vendetta from an ex-employee or someone catching a company on a bad day. A business can be great and happen to mess up, but when they are blasted online, its effects remain forever.

Some people write a review to get points to be a “local guide.” That is just stupid. I’ve found the best way to approach a business is in person and let them know what happened, and they are generally very responsive in trying to make it better.

Leaving a one-star review because your BLT didn’t get enough bacon is not the right way to go. If there ever has to be a one-star review, give it to Target for their stupid self-checkout cameras.

Driving in the winter is bananas in Montana. I wouldn’t say I like it, and sometimes, sharing the road with people is impossible. It would be a lot easier if people just learned to drive a little more appropriately for the conditions, but I would be so aggravated driving if people would stop doing a few other things.

First, if you are going slow and someone will pass you, don’t speed up whenever they try. This happens to me about four or five times a week, and I don’t get it. I’m not sure if people are just being jerks or if they are just offended when someone tries to pass them when they are going 45 miles per hour when there is no snow and ice on the road.

Another driving pet peeve is when someone does something wrong and gives me a dirty look like it is my fault. They ran a red light and almost hit me. Maybe it makes them feel better thinking they were in the right, but they were not, so quit with the mean mugging. It makes your attitude as bad as your driving.

Growing up, I used to read a Casper Star-Tribune newspaper every morning. On the front page, there was a caricature called the “Old Grouch,” who would say something cynical about what was on the front page. It used to drive me crazy. A few decades later, I have become the “Old Grouch.”


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