Today I almost punched a clerk. I was buying cigarettes at a gas station and he was nagging me for not wearing one of these stupid dentist masks the nannies now demand you wear because of the COVID-19 scare. I’m about to buy a product that damages your lung tissue and leads to cancer and which many people claim harms people through second hand smoke, but here he is nagging me about a mask that is suppose to prevent the boomer remover flu virus
The Corona Crisis should be the last chapter in the long and bothersome story of a profession we are all better off without: the Clerk.
The Clerk serves no purpose other than to take money and give product, and frequently, to introduce error in this transaction. Clerks are not recruited from elite trade schools but they are part time gigs for teenagers and students, if you are lucky. If you are fortunate you have people who are still mentally quick enough to count change. If you go above a certain age you deal with a person who has nothing of substance in life and for whom this position as gas station clerk is just one last stop on their way to a shallow grave.
If your society has implemented diversity, you no longer get the teenagers and students, but old people and foreigners who introduce more errors to these simple transactions. They can’t headcount the on sales prices of 30% if the scanner doesn’t work and often enough they can’t even count the money if you are so careless to pay with change, so you have to insist to count it again from a guy who’s only job it is the entire day to count money.
Even before the corona scare the clerk was already a force multiplier for diseases. How often did I see clerks coughing in their fist or open palm and I said nothing, being amused about the perspective that this apostle of the plague god could potentially infect many of his elderly customers with lethal outcome. Now they have to wear masks and plastic gloves that often don’t last longer than a few hours. After that fake nails punctuew through them and the same fingers scratch noses that itch and sweat under paper masks before they touch product to drag it over the barcode scanner, a task the clerk sewms essentially important and uniquely qualified for.
This health crisis and its measures are such pointless security theater that the FAIL is beyond measurement, but this does not mean that you have to let this crisis go to waste. If businesses have to cut non-essential work departments, lets make it those who we all can go without and lets make the clerk a thing of the past like the switchboard operator or buggy whip-maker.
The only downside so far is that most stores at the moment cannot afford a automated checkout or wireless payment system. Until the technology becomes cheaper, or becomes redundant because all trade is done by drone delivery, we probably have to deal with the clerk for a little while longer.