Sunday, July 27, 2014

Life's Little Irritations

Life's Little Irritations...

Yes, they are many. In a country where there's more than enough to be thankful for, and plenty of things to complain about it's the littlest irritations that really get to you. I start with those necessary rooms called public restrooms - but first answer me this:

Which one of these devices would you call hands free or touchless?

That's right they both are! So why when we finish our business in the public restroom are we now being forced to wave our hands around at the paper towel dispenser like fools. Who's bright idea was this? What exactly was wrong with pulling out the towel all by yourself? Somehow this is progress... Besides being completely unnecessary the damn things either 1) don't work or 2) spit out such tiny little towels that you are forced to wave your hands at it two or three times just to get enough dry you hands. Don't even get me started on those lousy air dryer things. Haven't we all been forced to wipe our hands on our pants enough already.

The modern high-tech public restroom is a study in the art of "just because you can, should you?". I understand the very real need for those spring loaded or sensor controlled faucets. Most of them actually work and probably save countless gallons of water. OK, chalk those things up as winners. 

All you men will surely track with this one - ladies too for that matter. For us men standing at the urinal, one of those touchless, self-flushing urinals, we are supposed to be protected from actually having to touch that germ laden flusher when we finish up. The system is supposed to detect that you are not standing there anymore and flush automatically. Marvelous. Except when you're standing there daydreaming or just enjoying a good pee and the damn thing flushes prematurely spraying you with filthy bacteria from every Tom, Dick and Harry that peed before you. Besides getting all over your clothes and hands it sprays all over that private part too. How are you supposed to wash that in public and still keep your dignity. Ladies , I'm sure the very same thing happens with those good 'ol automatic toilets too. What a mess. If you are planning to wash your hands anyway can't you just push the flusher all by yourself? 

Automatic doors are another marvel of modernity. These can be extremely helpful in situations where your hands are full or you are pushing a cart. When they work it is a seamless transition from inside to outside. In the old days when the sensors were built into the mat and the door opened outward away from the direction you were going it was the aforementioned seamless transition. Today with the marvel of infrared or radio wave technology the door senses you coming and is supposed to open. In fact most of the time they do. Yet, they never seem to be calibrated to match your stride so you have to stop and wait, a little irritation yes. Except today both doors open the same direction and quite often they bash into you or your cart if you fail to break stride. Progress.

How about those pay-at-the-pump gas stations. In general this is a great idea and wonderful time saver. Since we all use debit or credit cards the automated at the pump payment system is a marvelous modern enhancement. Except... If you consider the whole point is to save you time then why are we forced to answer a half a dozen questions? No I don't want a car wash today. No I don't have a rewards card. No I don't want to give you my zip code. No I don't want a receipt. NO I DON'T WANT TO DONATE TO YOUR FAVORITE CHARITY!!! OK, I made that one up. As my older brother once said why can't they add a "Just Gas" button.

The king of modern automation that everyone of us has dealt with to the point of vein popping frustration is the merry-go-round of interactive voice response machines. Nothing has hurt customer relations and brand loyalty more than "Press 1 for this Press 2 for that and Press 3 for the other thing". Unless you require something very basic these things almost never satisfy. If you are lucky you can press "0" or "#" and get directed to an actual human. Nine times out of ten that person can actually help you. Sometimes this is not an option since the final option they give sends you back to the beginning. Arrrggghh!!!

Now, if you are calling a government entity a human on the other end of the line guarantees you nothing. Have you ever been put into the call center merry-go-round? This is where one department tells you you'll need to call the other department. They give you a number to call and that department tells you you need to call another department - or worse - the department that told you to call them. Maximum frustration ensues when department one gladly transfers the call for you... click... dial-tone... Start over. Eventually you know all the "options" by heart and immediately start yelling at the person who answers the call. Now corporate call center agents are trained to be exceeding polite and calm (which can further enrage you) but a government worker is indifferent and will do anything just to get rid of you. "You have to call Department Two, would you like me to transfer the call?"


PS have a nice day