This morning I visited the supermarket to buy two things – not important what they were, but it was a fresh chicken and a loaf of bread.
I am begrudgingly becoming used to the dreadful ‘self check-out’ systems that are proliferating at an amazing rate, and I no longer swear under my breath at the machine or tell the poor ‘helper’ that these machines are ‘the pits’. But today, when I did all the right things; made sure each barcode was read easily on both items, pressed the correct button and then passed a $20 note into the appropriate slot, after being ‘told’ that the total was $14.50.
Then waited, waited and waited. A lot of rattling and jangling noises were heard - suggesting coins were about to emerge from the ‘change’ slot. Nothing appeared for a while until, eventually a $2 coin slipped out. One $2 coin, all alone, followed by more waiting and waiting, more jangling and rattling, then silence – and still I am $3.50 short of my correct change.
Time to press the ‘help’ button.
Along came a ‘helper’ who assessed the situation but could not release the money due to me.
‘Hey Suse’, she called to a woman near a counter, ‘Can you give me $3.50 from your till?’
The woman (Suse) dug out the money, came from behind her work station and brought me the $3.50 for which I had been waiting.
Then the ‘helper’ phoned to tell someone (the manager?) that she would have to close down the offending machine. That made two ‘self-serve’machines out of order on that morning.
Was that efficient?
I ask again – is this what we want?
Is this a part of economic rationalism?
Machines or people?
Every person replaced by a machine is a person who subsequently needs a job. For every business that replaces people with machines there is reportedly a bonanza to be reaped by the shareholders of that company for whom the profits rise exponentially, because they are no longer paying wages.
BUT, and it’s a big BUT – all the people who become job seekers cannot possibly be employed because there are fewer and fewer job vacancies, because the jobs are being eaten up by machines. Or that’s how it seems.
If all the people who need - and want - work can no longer find employment, then they will eventually be reliant on government assistance.
And, not only that, but their self esteem will plummet and their families may start to disintegrate and on and on …… And yes, I know this sounds like another ‘grumpy old woman’ rant and a 'life was better in the old days’ whinge - but is that all it is?
To top it all off, the machines are not always efficient; they are not always fool proof and certainly (as today proved) are not time savers.
Queues & 'savings'
And, don’t get me started on queues and all the valuable time that ‘activity’ wastes.
And, by the way, how much money is being saved by banks spending less, not only on staff, but on carpet? Yes, carpet! Now that customers no longer walk on the banks’ floors, but merely wear out a bit of concrete outside the bank as they do all their own banking via a hole in the wall.
Oh, to be a shareholder in a banking company!
Then again – is that what we want?
PS: How can a country progress when unemployment is high? Beats me!