So today I was at Wal-Mart buying Christmas lights, and I used the self checkout lane (motto: “Fast! Easy! Fun!”). When it came time to sign the little screen for my credit card, I gave a halfhearted scribble.

That wavy line at the bottom, below the bar code, is my amazing signature.

Funny, though: suddenly a voice boomed out “Please wait for a service attendant” and the little red siren at the top of a pole in the checkout lane started whirling around and flashing. I was curious what had happened, since the credit-card screen said “signature accepted” and I assumed everything had been paid for properly. The happy face Wal-Mart screen said something like “ATTENDANT: COMPARE SIGNATURE WITH CREDIT CARD”. Aha.

The 70-year-old tired-looking service attendant woman ambled over, looked at the screen, and typed in a quick code (without comparing my signature, of course). The siren stopped, my receipt spewed forth from the machine, and I was allowed to go home and hang lights.

I suspect the system is programmed to look for lazy signatures like this, to deter credit card fraud. Ha. Next time I’m either going to draw a straight line, or a series of several hundred up-and-down squiggles. I wonder what else the system is programmed to watch.

Oh, and I wasn’t joking about the motto of the self checkout. You can see it at the top of the receipt.