I was at the grocery store with nine-year-old Alice today, using one of those self-serve checkout machines, and growing increasingly frustrated by the minute. I had just a couple of minutes to go before it was time to get Lucy at school, and the thing kept malfunctioning as I tried to swipe my final item.
UNEXPECTED ITEM ON BAGGING TABLE, it told me. Again and again. I finally gave up and turned toward one of the regular lines, but they were too long--I didn't want to be late for Lucy. So we moved to the station to the right of the one that failed us.
Before I rang up the first item, it gave me the same error message. The table was empty. But Alice was standing right by it and I realized it was detecting her presence.
"They must have thought I was trying to steal forty-five pounds of meat," I told her.
Without missing a beat, she replied: "In some places, child meat is considered a delicacy. People eat it fried."
Well played, my little sicko daughter. Well played.