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Reluctantly venturing into the computer age
It’s the Pitts
By Lee Pitts
 Go ahead, call me old fashioned, but I refuse to use an ATM machine. In fact, I tore up the ATM card the bank gave me, preferring instead to do business with the bank teller I have known for 30 years. Recently, I got a notice from the bank informing me that in the future they are going to charge me for each bank transaction if I actually want to talk to a teller. The ATM machine will be free, however. The bank is trying to force me to enter the computer age.
It’s the same everywhere. Of course, they now have credit card gas pumps which give real meaning to the words, “self service.” And I am told there are prototype grocery stores where you simply push your fully loaded cart of groceries through an airport security-like device and the computer tells you how much your bank account will be automatically debited. Of course, this will put a lot of people out of work but the computers are doing real well, thank you very much.
What makes all this possible are bar codes. Before too long I think all babies will be bar coded at birth so we can do away with credit cards.
It dawned on me just how far we’ve come down the information highway when I checked into a motel room in a big city. When I called and made a reservation, they took my credit card number. When I arrived, I was instructed by a sign to go straight to room no. 315, swipe my credit card in the mini-computer on the door and the door would unlock and all charges applied to my credit card bill. From the way the bed was made up I think they had a computer do that too.
Needless to say, I am having a difficult time adjusting to all this. Once in the motel room I called the front desk to request a wake-up call. Right on time the next morning, a pleasant voice said, “Good morning, this is your wake-up call.” Being the polite person that I am, I replied, “Thank you.” After fully waking up, I realized that I had just said “thank you” to a computer that couldn’t understand a word I said. Or maybe it could as they are making them very smart these days.
I ordered a burger at the fast-food drive up the other day and a computer clown thanked me, although it did sound rather hollow. The toll taker at the bridge has been replaced by a basket that counts change and in Arizona they have a computer that catches you speeding and mails you a ticket. The very thought of no more highway patrol officers must send shivers down the spine of anyone who owns a donut shop.
I was sitting in my recliner the other night browsing on the Home Shopping Network when the phone rang. I am sad to report that big business has now discovered the perfect salesman. One who won’t take “NO” for an answer. These salesmen don’t call in sick and they work ALL NIGHT. No Social Security or sexual harassment lawsuits either. That’s right... I was called by a computer!
The phrase, “Lets’ do lunch,” has now been replaced with, “Have your computer call my computer.” With voice mail, texting and e-mail, your computers can chat and you don’t even have to come in contact with another living soul. Of course, over time this will destroy our social skills. Someone will simply say, “Hello,” and we’ll all look around to see where the funny noise came from.
All this is why talk radio is so popular. People just want to have someone to talk to. Nowadays if you are lonely and want to express how you feel you can dial a 900 number, pay $1.50 a minute and chat away. Be careful to enunciate each syllable, however, so the computer on the other end of the line can understand you.