By Sue Murphy
Yesterday was a banner day. For the first time, I used the self-checkout kiosk at Walmart. I slid my purchases across the scanner, put them in the bag and stuck my credit card into the little slot. I wouldn’t have attempted it, but the regular checkout lanes were jammed and my daughter was standing right next to me for backup.
I kind of resent the fact that the world keeps pushing me in the self-service direction. When I call the credit card/cable/phone company, I must first listen to a recording that tells me (insert eye roll) that I could accomplish whatever I’m trying to do online. If I doggedly stay on the phone, I am asked to at least narrow my question down to a series of numerical issues. I press (never say) number three even though that’s not exactly what I’d like to discuss, and am treated to a lengthy cyber-symphony, interrupted by reminders that (ahem) I could be accomplishing all this online. I hold my ground, and when the representative gets on the phone and finds out my issue is more of a two-and-a-half and requires some judgment call on his part, he is sometimes at a loss because he has only been given access to the same limited action options I might have encountered online. (Told you so.)
I don’t know what to tell you. Occasionally, I need real people help. Just like Winnie the Pooh’s Piglet, I am a very small animal in a much larger technological world, and I find it a little intimidating. I will bravely stand up for what I believe in, defend my loved ones against all comers, but otherwise, I choose the path where there is the least potential that I will mess things up.
I know myself, my strengths and my weaknesses, so when I tell you that I do not want to deal with online banking, please realize that I am being, not backward, but sensible. I use the touch pad on the counter at the bricks-and-mortar bank, but only because the nice ladies behind the counter (Thank you, Wendy and Lynn.) talk me through it. Unlike TV people, I have no desire to transfer funds with my phone while roughhousing with my grandchildren. The ways I could mess that up are legion.
I deny myself the ability to pay for Girl Scout cookies at the table outside the grocery store with a wave of my phone. Wave and pay? A person like me who talks with her hands could be broke by lunchtime.
I could be controlling my outside lights and my sprinkler system from my phone, but I don’t. I do without the app that would let me look inside my refrigerator while I’m at the grocery store. I suppose it would be nice to be able to see if a burglar was stealing packages off my front porch, but I’d have to be looking at my phone screen 24/7.
The set up that worries me the most is the one that allows you to use your phone to start your oven. Besides the fact that I’d have to leave lukewarm food in the oven for hours (slow cook salmonella), I’d be capable of pocket-dialing a really nice house fire.
No, for now, I’ll just celebrate my use of the self-checkout kiosk. I won’t use it every time, though. I kind of missed having the checker say, “How are you today?” and finding out, happily, that she and I are both fine.
DIY? I dread it.