You are Kroger’s employee training coordinator

And you thought you’d popped into the grocery only to pick up a half-gallon of milk and redeem your Kroger coupon for a free pint of ice cream. The ice cream will not be free, I assure you.


At the entrance to the Kroger store, I stopped at the kiosk to get a handheld scanner, but then I noticed a glamorous electronic sign saying I could use my app to scan grocery items and check out instead of bothering with the handheld device. I watched the step-by-step instructional slideshow there at the kiosk, then opened my Kroger app and looked for the barcode scanner. There wasn’t one.

Still standing at the kiosk, I phoned customer service for the Kroger app, and the Kroger customer service person who answered said she’d never heard of the barcode scanner feature in the app and also couldn’t find it anywhere.

A very young grocery clerk walked by, so I asked him what to make of the new signage explaining the barcode scanner. He shrugged his shoulders. He knew how the handheld devices in the kiosk were supposed to work, but he’d never been told a smartphone could scan the groceries. He pointed out the Kroger store manager.

The Kroger store manager explained that, even though I already had a Kroger app and a Kroger pharmacy app on my phone, I’d need to download a third Kroger SCAN, PAY, GO app in order to use the barcode scanner. He said I should have understood the obvious, even though the words SCAN, PAY, GO app appeared exactly nowhere in any of the SCAN, PAY, GO signage and instructions at the kiosk. (I had read them as verbs, not as a noun.)

I remained at the kiosk and downloaded my third Kroger app, and it launched, and then I gathered and scanned a cartful of groceries, including my free pint of ice cream. When I was ready to redeem my Kroger coupon, PAY, and GO, I hit the Cart button on my new SCAN, PAY, GO app.

The SCAN, PAY, GO app includes a submenu for coupons, but, alas, only for the fourteen other kinds of coupons Kroger issues relentlessly. I held in my hand four paper coupons that had arrived in the mail and astonishingly hadn’t already expired. If I’d valued my sanity, they should have gone in the trash. Nevertheless, hoping for the best, I scanned my first paper coupon, and up popped a warning within the SCAN, PAY, GO app indicating I’d need to take my burdensome paper coupons to the cashier at the checkout station, because I couldn’t use my new SCAN, PAY, GO app to scan Kroger coupons.

Undefeated, I steered my cart to the cashier’s station, and of course the cashier had never heard of the SCAN, PAY, GO app. She didn’t know what to do with my Kroger coupons. She called the manager. The manager also didn’t know what to do with my Kroger coupons. He advised the cashier to re-scan all of my groceries, which she graciously did, along with my four paper Kroger coupons, while I stood waiting with my useless SCAN, PAY, GO app installed on the phone in my hand.

I had to figure out for myself how to cancel my SCAN, PAY, GO debacle, because the app was expecting me to pay with SCAN, PAY, GO and probably was programmed to phone 911 automatically if I walked out the door after paying the human cashier instead.

Kroger coupons had become my bête noire, yet I continued to wrestle with them as though eventually they could be tamed. The next time Kroger sends something in the mail, it’ll go straight to the recycling bin unopened.

The Kroger Company seems to have devised a ruthlessly perfect strategy to ensure that its customers won’t miss Kroger employees after all of them lose their jobs to technology. Kroger simply makes its employees appear foolish. I’m looking past the helpless employees to the Kroger Company, and I don’t like what I see.


My 5th great-grandfather Joshua Martin (1779-1849) is buried in Perry Township in Carroll County, Ohio. This week, I gathered a few of the profusion of cosmos my two-year-old granddaughter planted in my garden earlier this summer, grabbed my notes, and headed east for the Allen Memorial Cemetery.

As I pulled onto Ohio St. Rt. 161, my GPS told me to stay the course for 93 miles before exiting. Well! It was a beautiful day.

I presume Joshua’s father was Heinrich “Henry” Martin (1755/56-1845), who served in the Revolutionary War and resided near his son late in life, but I’ve found no record of where Heinrich was buried. He obtained his soldier’s pension while living on One Leg Creek, which today is called Conotton Creek. It runs along the Conotton Creek Trail, an 11-mile multi-use rail trail, and passes unnoticed under Conotton Road, where I stood to photograph it.

Conotton Creek

A daily trail user warned me there was no internet service in the area. My map app bogged down but remained doggedly faithful and got me to Joshua’s final resting place. The cemetery was fenced to keep the cows out. I unhooked the gate and climbed onto the knoll. The cattle were lowing as I walked among the graves.

Over a decade ago a genealogist had processed my ancestor’s tombstone by making visible the engraving and then photographing the temporary result. That photo and transcription can be seen on I compared what could be seen in the photo with the construction of the headstone to identify it among the others in the small graveyard. The engraving is no longer visible, so I’m indebted to the people who collected and preserved my family history.

Madison's cosmos

Joshua Martin’s name is on an 1801 tax list and on a land survey for the Territory North West of the River Ohio, which in that year encompassed what shortly would become Ohio, eastern Michigan, and a tiny part of Indiana. The names handwritten on the Ohio River Survey are the same as those on the tombstones in Allen Memorial Cemetery: Allen, Bair, Creal, Custer, Hendricks, McLaughlin, Thompson, Tomlinson, and others.

Madison, the pint-sized cosmos grower, is Joshua’s 7th great-granddaughter. If he could speak to her through time, he might ask whether she was named for James Madison, the U.S. secretary of state from 1801 to 1809 and then, from 1809 to 1817, the 4th U.S. president. Joshua named one of his sons James.

On my ill-chosen scenic route home, my car slid on a gravel road detour and bumped across a reservoir on a crumbling causeway, which made me wonder how my ancestors ever made it from Carroll County to Athens County and then Meigs County, Ohio, although it took them generations. As luck would have it, on Saturday, 19 October 2019, the Columbus Metropolitan Library’s Local History & Genealogy Division will present “Exploring Zane’s Trace: A New Road in a New Country” from 10 a.m. to noon at the Main Library, 96 S. Grant Ave. I will learn.

Carroll County, Ohio, USA