Traveling in a foreign country teaches you to get familiar with a few key words in the local dialect, especially if you are language-challenged like me.
So it’s been natural for me to learn some PLU when I venture out to the grocery store. Especially since PLU’s are just numbers.
It’s not that I can remember numbers more easily than words; it’s just that I can actually pronounce them without sounding like a total fool.
Even better, you don’t say them out loud, they are entered into a keyboard.
Those of you who employ ‘people’ to make your life easier need to know that the rest of us save time at the grocery store doing self-checkout.
As explained by the corporations who own these stores, this gives their customers a badly needed chance for self-expression. And I’ve found that this is indeed true. I can make a choice to stand in a long line or have a satisfying interaction with a grocery bot. Kind of an R2DU without wheels.
Most items come with a UPC that is easily scanned by our small friend. He even makes a satisfying beep upon recognizing the UPC. Like he’s meeting a long lost buddy. A fist bump between inanimate objects.
More challenging for the grocery tourist are the items not born with a UPC. Here’s where your working knowledge of PLU leaves a fluent French speaker in your dust as she is offered silly little ‘food icon’ buttons to press because she’s considered illiterate by the bot.
You, on the other hand, will avoid the pretty pictures and go directly to a screen where you boldly enter the item code in the native’s PLU language. The power and control can be overwhelming.
But beware complacency. PLU is destined to join Babble’s scrap heap of history. The powers that be are already experimenting with ink-jet applied UPC’s directly on our fruits and vegetables. It’s too late for us, but not for our children.
They will tell their children about the good old days when a banana was just 4011 and not a 3-dimensional hologram with an embedded RFID chip. A chip in this case that does not require ketchup.
I have only one thing to say to President Obama.
I’m in for a bunch.
And for our international readers who didn’t keep up with the details of the 2008 Presidential campaign, here’s your link.
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