You Do It

You do it.

I look up. No, no one has joined our tête-a-tête, our heart-to-heart, our face-to-face encounter: There’s still only the server and me. Her smiley face communicates, “I have all the time in the world take as much of it as you like and look isn’t it a lovely day?” but her intense posture is more like, “HURRY UP, DUMMY!!!” In this toe-to-toe confrontation, politeness is losing ground to impatience. Fast.

Thus silently encouraged to HURRY UP, I turn back to the mobile device whose series of obscure screens I am trying to navigate. There’s that voice again.

They’re all different.

Ah. Now I know who’s joined us, sight unseen. Hi, Mom.

In the last, oh, ten years of her life – maybe starting around the time she turned 85 — my mother grew fatally exasperated with credit-card-payment interfaces in restaurants and many stores. Her survival wasn’t at stake, but those dagnabbed devices became dead to her. Whenever she had the option, she got someone else to handle the payment for her.

To the then-in-my-mid-50s me, it was a more-than-fair exchange: I got lunch in return for hitting a few buttons and sharing a knowing smile with the smiley-faced server in front of us. Even if there was, sadly, no food on offer for me — if we were just picking up drycleaning, say — it was no big deal. Sure they were all different, but what of it?

But something has changed in the dozen years since those days. Maybe it’s me.

Am I just a bit slower on the uptake? Just a hair less adaptable? Just a little out of touch with the interface du jour?

Maybe.

As I finally finish and hand the accursed device back to the young polite/impatient young still-adaptable young server, I realize that Mom hung in there a long time. I look for a way to give her her due that she’d appreciate, and find just the thing. I speak.

They’re all different.

The server nods, not getting it. Yet.

As she walks off, I can see her looking around for someone, probably to share a knowing smile with.

Me, I’m looking for a younger dining and shopping buddy.

 

8 Comments

  1. Tom Watson

    I had an interesting experience in a small local restaurant recently. Three of us went for lunch. Two of us were picking up the tab. So I went to the till and asked the cashier to total the three bills and split it in half. She asked how I intended to pay, to which I replied by credit card. She said, “Sorry, the machine can’t do that. The only way it can be done is if both of you pay cash.” She added that she supposed she could work it out by hand but the machine still wouldn’t be able to handle it.”

    Surprised the heck out of me. I have done this many times before in other restaurants. In the end, after listening to her explain again why the problem was the machine, I said I could pay the whole bill and the other man could pay me half in cash.

    I must be a little daft, I guess, because I still can’t get it!
    Tom

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Tom – I don’t get it either. I don’t *think* the problem lies with the machine or with you or me, but couldn’t hazard a guess as to whether it’s the cashier or a restaurant policy.

  2. Barbara Carlson

    I hate those things, too. Put it in? Tap? Swipe? Wait till some code comes up? Press OK first? Not?
    I struggle sometimes and can feel the smug exasperation above me.

    It is one more sign I’m being shunted aside, put on a digital/communications ice flow and shoved out to a salty sea. I can’t send a cheque: it must be eTransfer…who picks up a call anymore? who returns a call? who doesn’t just TEXT? (me) Who reads their emails and if they do on their phones my images will be tiny, my PDFs unreadable.

    When I needed to get a techie to install a new Modem, the appointment could not be made without a cellphone alternate number! I don’t have a cellphone and John’s is a flip which he uses 7 seconds a day to tell me where he is — out painting, but which isolated location, so I can send the dogs if he doesn’t return by dark…

    I am sure within the year my landline phone will need replacing. I can hear the laughter of the Bell people already. “Maybe there’s one gathering dust somewhere here…ha, ha, ha.” I’ve already been told there is no way to fix a blinking constantly light: “You have a phone message”.

    I’m drowning not waving…

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Barbara – LOL. Don’t drown! The pace of change is a killer, for sure. I suppose in a perfect world (or even in TV or movie land) we would be spunky, funny old ladies, never seriously bent out of shape by this sort of thing. Maybe our next time around.

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