Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Freaking Technology!

So, let me start off by saying, I *love* technology. Except when I don't. This morning was one of the latter times.

This morning, I was at the bank, attempting to deposit a check. My bank has these nifty new ATM's that do not require you to use a deposit envelope covered in chicken scratch long addition which was done in the car on the way as you attempted to sort out just how much money exactly you were actually depositing. To this day I am pretty sure banks just accept whatever number you put on there knowing that eventually it will all even out. 50 cents too much today, a dollar too little tomorrow, whatever, it'll sort itself out eventually... but anyway, I digress. So these new ATM's take all that guesswork out of making bank deposits. You just stick your check in the little slot, it takes it away from you like a kung-fu student grabbing a grasshopper, and then shows you this cool scan of the check, including how much it was for.

So this check I was trying to deposit this morning was from the land of ice and snow... also known as Canada. Seems Canada feels they are too good to follow US standards for how checks are to be formatted (who do they think they are, some autonomous nation? Pfft...), and have come up with their own crazy, obviously drunk, way of doing routing and account numbers. So the ATM got quite confused. I would insert the check, and it would spit it back out. 5 times I tried! I felt like I was in 3rd grade trying to buy a Pepsi at Roller Towne. "Bvvvt.... bvvvt.... dollar comes back" ... "bvvvt... bvvvt... dollar comes back". So then you start doing that crazy "get my dollar to work in a soda machine" voodoo. You take it, flatten it as much as you can using the corner of the machine. "Bvvt... bvvvt... dollar comes back". Then you spend like 5 minutes examining the picture showing the orientation the bill must be in order for the machine to read it. "Bvvvt... bvvvttt... dollar comes back". Then you check to see if any of the corners are maybe bent down. Finally you do some crazy raindance and pray to the diety of your choice in hopes of making it work. "Bvvvt...." "Sweet I think it worke... "Bvvvt... dollar comes back". "Blast!". That is basically what happened to me this morning. It's like, come on, I am trying to give you money!

It reminds me of the olde tyme days of yore when I was trying to get my oldsk00l NES to see that I really did have a game inserted. Everyone had their own special "technique" for getting it to work. Blow on the cartridge, blow in the console, etc. I knew one kid who swore that tapping it on the upper right side of his head 3 times was the key to making it work. Superstition to say the least, but hey, whatever it takes to get your Pepsi/Nintendo/ATM fix right?

So the point of all this nostalgia is pretty simple: For all the things technology brings us, it sure does cost a lot... and not just monetarily. I'm thinking about our other valuables that can't have a pricetag attached to them, such as time, frustration, and sugary drinks, just to name just a few.

In the end, I'm back where we were 30 years ago. I have to make it to the bank during the business hours, which is like between 11:00 and 11:07 am every other Thursday (whoever coined the term "bankers hours" was a wise wise person), so that a teller can examine my currency manually to ensure that I am not a Canadian terrorist. Maybe one day I won't have to work in another country to maximize the value of my dollar, but that day is not today. And so I am stuck fighting with technology just to get my Pepsi.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Freaking Customers!

Today we're going to delve into what is possibly the worst type of person in the world. That's right, customers. It does not really seem to matter what industry you work in, customers are just a general all around pain in the bum. They're always wanting stuff, and just because I work here are expecting me to do it for them. When I say wanting stuff, I don't mean like "Hey, can you do this thing that completely relates to your job and your company's industry so it makes perfect sense for me to ask you to do this, for me", I mean stuff like, "Hey, I realize that this is not remotely related to what you know or do, but I and everyone I know apparently have the problem solving skills equal to that of an untrained table, so can you help me with this?" It's maddening!

Then, to make matters worse, when you solve their problem and they don't like the answer, they come back expecting you to somehow change the results. What's that about insanity, repetitive actions, and different outcomes? They seem to think that because I was kind enough to solve their problem to begin with, surely I must be some sort of demigod who can manipulate time, space, and all creation with just the power of my will... that somehow I can change the laws of physics that govern our entire universe because they're the customer and they told me to. Then, when I try to explain the impossibility of their request, they demand that I resolve it. As if I have not already gone out of my way enough already! Do you think I am lying to you? Do you think this is just a big joke I am playing on you because I enjoy it? Do you honestly think I want to deal with you one Planck longer than I have to? Why on earth would I not give you the answer that will make you leave me alone?!

Now, as a side note, let me say this right now. I am an extremely helpful person. Some have even called me too helpful. Sometimes I try to help so much that it actually becomes un-helpful. That's just who I am... it's how I roll. So it's not that I don't really really want to help people, it's just that I am only one person, and some things are just not possible.

For quick reference I have included a short, and by no means conclusive, list of the things that I cannot do for you:
  1. Vulcanize your tires while you wait. Despite my striking resemblance to Vulcan, this is not something I can help you with. I am sorry.
  2. Undo a mistake you made in the past. Contrary to what I can only assume is a rumor everyone but me is in on, I do not now, nor have I ever had, a time machine. Maybe I will in the future, which I guess would mean I could have one now and in the past, but as of this writing I do not, so stop asking.
  3. Fix your problem in less time than it takes to fix it. See #2 above if you don't understand why.
  4. Read your mind. I don't care what you expect, if you don't tell me I have no idea what you need. This also goes for crucial bits to solving the problem. Giving me all the information is the best way to help with #3.
  5. Recite every digit of Pi, from memory or otherwise. If you don't know why I can't do this, you have no business asking me to do it. It pretty much answers itself.
  6. Count to infinity. See #5 above.
  7. Drink one gallon of milk in an hour without vomiting. Maybe other people can, I'm not going to debate you on that, all I know is, I cannot.
  8. Make a working two-seater ultralight plane out of makeshift materials. I probably can't even make a working two-seater ultralight with proper materials.
  9. Build a Jet pack from plans purchased off the internet and limited funds. Maybe with plans purchased from the Internet *or* limited funds, but not both.
  10. Build a perpetual motion machine. In my house we obey the laws of thermodynamics.
  11. All the stuff that Chuck Norris can do. Come to think of it, why don't you call Chuck Norris to solve your problems?
Perhaps it's proper irony that we're all customers of something at some point, and yet all customers manage to give me the rage. Does that mean I give myself the rage? Probably, but that's another topic for a completely different website. So if the irony of self loathing isn't today's lesson, what is? All customers are idiots. There are just varying degrees of idiot. You alone have the power to decide what degree of idiot customer you are going to be. Use it wisely.