I’ll tell you what bugs me:

At the grocery store, they have these self-checkout machines that let you buy your food without the threat of human contact. That’s not what bugs me; I love ’em. The more robotic slaves in my life, the better. What bugs me is their grammar.

After you pay, the charming yet firm female voice says, “Please remove your bags, take your receipt, and your change. Thank you for shopping at QFC!”

Look at that second comma. After “receipt.” Should I have put that in there? The voice hesitates at that point, as though there IS one there, but any grunting French wolf-boy can tell that “and your change” is NOT an independent clause, unlike the two that precede it. “Take your receipt and your change” would be perfectly kosher, but following “Please remove your bags” makes it a comma splice. Changing the comma to a semicolon (“Please remove your bags; take your receipt and your change”) would be grammatically correct but fairly awkward. Plus the vocal reading glides too smoothly over the break. That shit do not fly, Hoss.*

It’d be one thing if this were a casual error committed in the heat of dreaded human communication. The terror and revulsion of social intercourse destroy us all, in our own ways. But this is a machine, trilling its siren song in precise repetition with every reassuring encounter. What should be our one buoy of lucid sanity in the enveloping vortex of madness is crippled by its own failure to heed to first-grade grammar.

Vortex of madness it is, then.

(Oh, and if you’re thinking of getting me Eats, Shoots & Leaves, you’re too late. My friends Jamie and Lorinda beat you to it. I appreciate the thought, though!)

* Thank you, Jeffrey Rowland. For everything.