I had to go to Lowes yesterday to grab an air filer, and it felt unwelcoming and inhuman…almost dystopic.
Of course, everyone was cowed and wearing the mask of submission. Driving up in their car, in the parking lot etc…almost total submission and compliance. I had to return an item and waited in the 6’ spaced social distance line, though I like crowding the guy in front of me to see if I can garner a reaction. None today. I get to the plexiglass and the lady has to bark at me to be heard over her mask and around the plexi. She’s huffing and puffing after the ordeal of talking.
After the return I grab the filter and head to check out. There was one cashier open and with the social distancing the line stretched almost down an entire aisle. So I went to the self checkout. The first thing you notice is the CCTV screen one foot in front of your face, showing a close up image of your face. It is an advanced operation, flashing white and red. A white box frames your face at all times. As you move, the box moves to keep your face centered. On the top of the screen, in bold flashing red letters are the words “You Are Being Recorded”. A very friendly experience there.
I mentioned to the self checkout assistant as I left that the CCTV screen with a large image of your face and the red flashing command was a revolutionary advancement in customer service…she said, “we do it to stop the shoplifters.” I noted to her that that doesn’t stop shoplifting and only makes the 99% of non-shoplifters feel like criminals. She looked at me and shrugged, having given herself fully into the new world. I walked out.
All in all it was a very dehumanizing experience. The people aren’t helpful (though they haven’t been for some time). The clerks were mostly middle aged, stern looking women. A general feeling of oppression filled the air, and smelled like things to come.