Unexpected item in bagging area – By @RobynHFrost

Robyn Frost

By Robyn Frost

Unexpected item in bagging area

WTF. That gin should have scanned.

‘Please wait for assistance’.


‘Unexpected ite–’.

It’s a funny line, that. How much does it aggravate you on a scale of one to f*ck this? I’m hovering at about 11.5, pushing a 12.

I’ve been wondering why ‘unexpected item’ bothers people so much – so much so, that Tesco have actually removed the alert from their self checkouts due to the number of customer freak outs. Really. (But have no fear, Amazon Go is here!)

I have concluded, dear readers, it’s because of the word should. The machine woman doesn’t actually say it, but we’re all thinking it. ‘Unexpected item’ – it is in fact an expected item, because I scanned it with the full intention of purchasing it. I’m in a rush and bossy technology has interrupted my get-in-get-out zen.

I thought about the word, and then I flipped it. I started thinking about my expectations.

I’ve been sitting with should for a few weeks now, taking note of how often I think or say it. The answer? Too much, mate. And you might be in the same boat.

In my opinion, should gives us unrealistic expectations and subsequently, an unhealthy sense of entitlement.

So I’m calling bullshit on the word.

I think it’s time to upgrade to a newer model and reframe our perspective. First, let’s drill down into why I think it’s the antagonist in the drama of life. DUN DUN DUN.

It’s an early morning in September 2004, and I’m walking down the road with my Mum. We’re off to secondary school. Big school! I think, ‘Finally. I get brand new friends, teachers and books. I’ll work my fresh-out-the-John-Lewis-school-department socks off and have a whale of a time doing so. I can be whoever I want to be! I’ll work hard, I’ll get a good job – maybe I’ll be a vet or something?! GO ROB’. In my experience, and possibly yours too, it’s not quite as peachy as this.

The Battle of Should starts when we set foot in The Institution of Entitlement, AKA school. We’re conditioned to believe that if we work hard, (develop the ability to remember facts we will likely never use again in our day-to-day lives), we should get good marks in exams. If we pass with flying colours, we should go on to a good university – because if we don’t, there’s zero hope (I’m eye rolling here – hard). Three years later, if we make it out alive, we should get a good job. We should earn a decent living, and we should feel happy and fulfilled.

What if we don’t? What if that meticulously crafted CV doesn’t get a look in?

David Pearl, creator of Street Wisdom and all-round top bloke visited SCA a few weeks ago. The whole day was wonderfully intoxicating and life changing, but one part in particular stuck with me. David spoke about should.

‘She can draw! She should be an artist’. ‘The baby’s a strong kicker! He should be a footballer’. ‘You should be–’

Expectations are born with us, but they don’t equate to happiness.

It’s time to check the vitals; conformity kills creativity.


Unexpected can be wonderful.

What if should becomes could?

Think on that.

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