Jewish World Review Sept. 29, 2004 / 14 Tishrei, 5765
Talking carts spice up shopping
I was saddened to read that an Austrian grocery store has muzzled its talking shopping up on frozen waffles.
According to the story I read, the cleaners kept crashing into shoppers or their carts and just generally put a huge damper on the whole grocery-shopping experience. After all, a shopper who is writhing on the floor with a fractured tibia is not a shopper who's buying a porterhouse steak and maybe a nice bottle of French wine.
While clearly there are some "bugs" that need to be worked out, I think the concept of a talking shopping cart is a good one and something we desperately need in Florida grocery stores. With hurricanes barreling across the state at a rate of two or three per day, the Florida grocery-shopping experience has grown tiresome and predictable. Little old ladies whacking each other with their walkers over a package of D batteries; soccer moms racing to the bottled water section like it's the last chopper out of Saigon; sobbing construction workers cradling dented cans of Beefaroni like they're holding a winning lottery ticket … I don't know; maybe it's me, but it's all starting to seem very what's the word? banal.
Talking shopping carts (teamed, of course, with some turbocharged robotic cleaning machines) might be just the thing to shake us out of our doldrums and give the shopping experience a much-needed (literal) kick in the pants. Who, after all, can worry about 165 mph winds and a 20-foot storm surge when a demonic motorized janitor has you pinned against the Beanee Weenee display?
Talking shopping carts could also be programmed to announce something more than the latest specials. For example, the cart could give Florida shoppers helpful advice like "Move to Nebraska!" or "Boil your water!" or, my personal favorite, "Hunker down!"
The cart could give dietary advice like "That seems like an awful lot of peanut butter" or "Are you sure you want to spend the night in an un-air-conditioned house with a bunch of people who have been eating canned sardines in hot sauce?" or "Beer is not a food group."
And, if nothing else, shoppers could take out their pent-up frustrations on these yakky machines rather than their fellow customers. Chariot races through the produce section should prove a therapeutic diversion, and if the talking buggy gives you any lip, you could threaten it with a dinner roll.
Because even stupid machines know that carbs can kill you.
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JWR contributor David Grimes is a columnist for The Sarasota Herald Tribune. Comment by clicking here.
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