Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Inconvenient Convenience

There is no technology so useful that certain elements of the human population won’t find a way to make it into a painful and irritating experience. What is it that drives certain people to add static to the environment just to annoy the hell out of the rest of us? Things like all the extra crap I have to do just to use my dammed debit card. Debit card, right? Great idea. Easy, cashless method of transferring my wife's money into a vender’s account, right? Perfect for people like me who think the register in a checkbook is for doodling stick-figure cartoons while my wife is in the bank trying to figure out who screwed up our account. My wife also doesn't let me have cash, because I'll just spend it on strippers and booze. So debit cards, great idea, all I have to do is swipe the card, enter the PIN bip bip bip bip and I'm on my way with the booty. Bing bang boom, out the door. What could be easier? Except, every single day, some nearsighted, sexless, cave dwelling Dark Nerd of the Sith adds yet another hoop I’ve got to jump through. You can see them sitting like maggots in their pithy white Apple basements, surrounded by piles of empty Mountain Dew cans and moldering Wired magazines, mumbling to themselves in Klingon, “Convenience is a dish best served cold, bitches!” They hate the human race, these Visa card programmers, but perversely these socially-retarded n00bs still crave human contact. They want to dazzle geeky cheerleaders with their coding prowess, they want to talk to somebody, anybody, they just want somebody to notice them.

There’s an old saying in Emotional Literacy circles, to wit: “Bad strokes are better than no strokes at all.” Stripped of psycho-babble, what this means is that having somebody yell at you and call you names is better than being ignored. In certain extreme circumstances, getting punched in the face or having your skivvies pulled up over your head in the Mother of All Wedgies is better than being invisible. The socially inept often find ways to desperately goad others into hostile action, just to get a little of the attention they pretend they don’t want – they also tend to wear loose fitting, highly elastic underwear, which explains why programmers often wear those stupid baggy shorts. It is my theory (and remember folks, you heard it here at Stonekettle Station first!) that for this reason programmers add options to the debit card reader code that, in their soulless sterile Star Trek universe, passes for human conversation. Things like:

- “Please swipe you store discount card” I’ve one item, toilet paper. I’m in a hurry. I don’t give a shit about discounts at the moment. Get out of my way.

- “Amount Okay? Press YES.” If I press “No” can I change the total to a lower amount? Of course the amount is Okay, you idiot, I put my friggin’ PIN in didn’t I?

- “Do you want stamps?” What is this, the friggin’ Post Office now? If I wanted friggin’ stamps, I’d friggin’ ask for friggin’ stamps. Goddammit!

- “Do you want to donate $1 to the Jerry Lewis fund for socially backward online gamers?” Arrrgh! Die, stupid Debit Card Reader, Die!

This is exactly why people like me end up on the roof of the Visa building with a copy of Catcher in the Rye and a high powered rifle. At the very least, somebody is getting a wedgie.


  1. You're turning into a curmudgeon. An amusing curmudgeon, but a curmudgeon nonetheless.

    When you start wearing your pants pulled up to your armpits, I'm outta here. Amusing or not, a gal's got to draw the line somewhere.

  2. Hey, you kids! Get off my lawn! [shakes stick]

  3. I have an excellent lawn, that is full of leaves at the moment. You've got to remember, in the summer I've got 23 hours of sunlight and rain, per day. I usually mow twice a week just to keep from having to send out a SAR for the neighborhood children.

    And as to being a curmudgeon, I was a Warrant, Janiece. The navy fed me a strict diet of bitter dried out, ground-up, career-killed Academy Lieutenant Commanders for years to make me into the curmudgeonly bastard I am. Blame them.

  4. Interesting about the lawn. I have a friend who lives in Larkspur (mountainous suburb), and he has no lawn, just evergreens, rocks and local fauna. And he loves the whole "no mowing" aspect of mountain living.

    And I do know that being a curmudgeon is a required personality trait of the W.O. community. I was just thinking, now that you're retired, perhaps you could, I don't know, lighten up?

    Being a civilian has its rewards - easy debit card usage just doesn't happen to be one of them.


  5. now that you're retired, perhaps you could, I don't know, lighten up?

    What? And give up show business?

  6. What? And give up show business?

    Note to self: Cancel cable.

  7. I don't know why you need to bring Apple into this? It's mostly windows programmers that have to had eight dialog boxes to tell you that you can't get there from here.

    Also, another reason I love cash (most strippers card swipe machines are on the fritz). And another reason why I hate self-check out lanes. Hate. I don't throw that word around like Jim does. I hate those things. Give me a 10% discount for using them and I might soften to the idea (because I'm doing the damn work these stores need to be paying someone for - I'm good with bagging my own groceries, BTW, because of the brain dead idiots that have no idea that at one time they had to train baggers so they did their job right). But for now, you know, grenades go off accidentally all the time. Opps, there goes another station. Sorry, I secured it to my genny belt by the pin and not the clip. My bad.

  8. Well, see, Steve, I brought Apple into it for two reasons. 1) the whole maggot in the apple analogy doesn't work with maggot/PC and I really wanted to use the Maggot bit. 2) I just wanted you to make a comment, and I figured bashing Apple would surely do it. Heh, see? It worked.

    And I'm with you on the self-check out lane, especially since I usually buy a lot of fresh vegetables and the whole menu selection/weighing bit just pisses me off. How dammed hard would it be to put a roll of bar code strips next to the plastic bags in the fresh vegetable isle? Then I could just stick one of those on each bag and scan them without endless menu poking. I will say that I never thought of using grenades on the stupid self checkout station, I'll try that next time.


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