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Just stuff (things on my mind that aren't to do with writing)

The rise of the machines


Have you noticed how everything that makes life more difficult these days, is apparently for our convenience? My son’s school has a new canteen. It is proud to be ‘nutritionally compliant’ (whatever that means) but it also no longer accepts cash.  This means I can’t dig about under the sofa cushions for spare change for him to buy an extra something at lunchtime. I have to go online and top up a card. Tah! But, hey, it’s for my convenience.

Telephone answering systems. If you want to pay a bill, press one, talk about a mortgage press two, manicure a gerbil, press three. So you press one, two or three, and then you have some clever clogs computer simulation of a bloke from Bolton speaking to you as if you have the mental age of three, and ignoring everything you tell him. ‘I’m sorry,’ he keeps repeating. ‘I didn’t quite catch that. Did you say you wanted to pay £2 million?’ In 20 minutes of mounting frustration I never have to speak to a human being at all. All for my convenience, mind.

We’re so busy trying to make machines work, that we forget who they’re supposed to be working for. Yes, that’s right; us.

Parking meters. In my town, they don’t take cards. They take change, but they don’t give it. It is odds on that when you have posted the entire contents of your purse, they will reject the last coin. And then (after the machine either refuses to return what you’ve already put in,  or spews it out like a jackpot win at Las Vegas) when you go off to get change, some traffic warden books you for not having paid and displayed. (Mind you, it’s a bloody miracle if you do get change. Most shops, mindful of their customers’ convenience, don’t give it.)

Trains. Oh, stop me now, Beulah. Railway stations are plastered with posters of smiling families having a great day out by train. Maybe they’re happy because they’ve been nutritionally compliant. Who knows? But we all know that day will end in tears, because, if you examine the timetable with an electron microscope you will see that by the time the poor saps want to go home the trains will have stopped running, and they will have to wait at Clapham Junction, or Crewe, until 6.30 am the next day (but not on a second Sunday in the month) to get their train.

I have been on trains that have stopped at stations where people are allowed to get off, but not get on. I have been on trains that have stopped at stations, and have been told I can’t get on or off because they are not ‘a stopping service’. And then there was the occasion (actually it happens quite a lot) when they gave up running trains altogether from my station and put on a replacement bus service. (Ok, that is for my convenience). However, this particular day the bus arrived at the connecting railway station two minutes after the train left. And you know what? The inspector was amazed that I should query this. ‘We can’t wait for passengers,’ he said. ‘It would mess the timetable up.’


About elainecanham

I started blogging because I'm a writer, and I thought I ought to. Now I realise that I blog because I like to; even when I can't think of much to say.


17 thoughts on “The rise of the machines

  1. I tend to like most of the technological “improvements”. My problem is I forget how things once were and get annoyed that my computer won’t upload, download, pin, post, etc within the 10 seconds that I think it should. And I’m so heavily reliant on it. My power went out for about 5 hours the other day. I didn’t know what to do with myself!

    Posted by jennifer Windram | May 6, 2014, 2:11 pm
    • I’m pretty tied to my computer, too. It’s just when things go wrong, or Microsoft decides that Vista would be a good idea, or you get in a talking lift that ignores you…

      Posted by elainecanham | May 6, 2014, 2:40 pm
  2. The latest autocorrects on the phones causes lots of aggravation and only occasional humor. You could add that to the list.

    I love the 3 for a manicure for the gerbil. I’ve always wondered how I could arrange for that. 😉

    Posted by Deborah | May 3, 2014, 10:26 am
    • wouldn’t it be lovely if some of these systems had that kind of quirkiness? I suppose some people would take it seriously though…

      Posted by elainecanham | May 3, 2014, 1:10 pm
    • and think of the potential lawsuits of the crazy people who injured their hamster because of the information they asked for and didn’t receive. 😉

      Posted by Deborah | May 3, 2014, 1:22 pm
    • Yes I suppose you can’t blame these systems for sounding so po-faced. Pity, though.

      Posted by elainecanham | May 3, 2014, 2:40 pm
  3. LOL!

    Posted by Bruce Goodman | May 2, 2014, 9:15 pm
  4. I take it you’re not chuffed by the trains.

    Posted by Bruce Goodman | May 2, 2014, 8:26 pm
  5. Back home such efficient (or like you said , at times otherwise) machine intervention is a distant reality.. So my family and I thoroughly enjoy this ease of life…Though I admit, a normal task such as bill payment can be quite an adventure when there’s no concept of a queue

    Posted by NS | May 2, 2014, 2:30 pm
  6. See! Look at the photo.
    There are these Stargate things everywhere! (For our convenience. So stop whining.)

    Posted by penjedi | May 2, 2014, 12:45 pm
  7. It does at times seem that the bureaucrats do think way too far beyond a simple solution

    Posted by lbwoodgate | May 2, 2014, 12:14 pm
  8. It is getting much harder to decide who works for who anymore. The Government makes decisions for us as though we’re complete Ninnies and then after telling us we now belong to the Left Testicle Group Of The Indonesian Plank Walkers Society promises a referendum to see how we feel about it.. Our banks buy up other banks then turn round cap in hand claiming to be broke while mortgaging a Kingdom to provide bonuses for the directors.
    The world’s gone barmy.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    Posted by davidprosser | May 2, 2014, 12:05 pm

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