By Lynn Moncus
We visit frequently about the many gadgets with which we must cope and often point out that many were invented just to add further confusion to our lives. Of late, I have paid particular attention to the credit card machines that are placed primarily so they can attack those of us in the over-the-hill-gang. When standing in line with members of that group, we often discuss the difficulties we have in trying to use those gadgets because each one is just slightly different from the next, thus trying our patience and causing major attacks of frustration.
Again, we didn’t have to deal with those at one time in our lives because credit cards didn’t exist. Even after they came into our lives, we could hand them to the cashier and wait to sign the chit without having to think about anything other than checking the figures to be sure they were correct. Now, we find the little dudes in most places of business and have to show our limited knowledge as we attempt to use those pieces of plastic.
After many failed attempts, I finally learned to use a card in order to put gasoline into the car. I don’t mind serving myself, but I surely understood that process better when we pumped the gas into the large container at the top of the gas dispenser. I could pump a gallon or more without having to do more than to move my arm back and forth and could then put whatever amount I could afford into the car. For many years thereafter, we were rather spoiled and had attendants who so graciously filled the tanks, washed the windshields, checked the oil, tires, and anything else that needed checking, took our money and thanked us for shopping with them.
For a long time, all I had to do was to pull into a station and promptly have a battle with the credit card machine before the card would be accepted or before an attendant would be kind enough to help the elders. I can still have bad moments because I must be more than a bit illiterate as I can’t seem to follow the directions. I’ll put the card into the slot and then be told to remove it and try again. That can go on for a few minutes before one of us either gives up or wins.
After the gasoline begins to run into the tank, I tend to relax for a few minutes and can but hope it will stop just before it runs over. Usually it does, and then the task begins to retrieve the receipt from another slot. Sometimes, the slot lets that little piece of paper slide out with no trouble, but other times, it tends to have a firm grasp and seems to dare me to try to win that tug of war. By the time I have filled the car and captured the receipt, I am more than a little impatient, but I also feel that I have won a very small battle.
We might as well avoid complaining about all this “progress” because we know that just about the time we conquer one gadget, another will be lying in wait to cause further distraction. If we learn to use one and can feel good about that for a few weeks, we will find that gadget has been replaced by a new model which is casting an evil eye in our direction.
At the moment, I am considering taking yet one more course in reading so I might be able to understand some of the instructions with which we are faced when we meet each gadget. I have always had a problem with the English language and fear that I shan’t really be able to conquer whatever the language is called that appears in the instructions. On the other hand, I’d rather just read “Dick and Jane” and sit on my corner in silence.