A Scary Crossing

A frightening disaster happened the other week that to an older person is difficult to even notice. When I went into a popular bread restaurant for breakfast, there was a look of sheer panic on the faces of the “cashiers” behind the counter. As I stepped up to order, one warned me,
“Before you order I have to tell you that our entire system has crashed and we are forced only to accept cash. We hope you understand.”
It wouldn’t be that simple as the “cashiers” would have reason to call themselves “plasticiers” or “virtualiers”.
I asked for a ready-made soufflé and a coffee. This initiated the first step—the writing down of the order. I never thought of the waiters who could write your order down while you’re seated and then calculate both the price and total, individually and collectively, while your meal is prepared and you remain seated; but these seemed painfully aware you are standing there awaiting food already prepared during what is supposed fast. I appreciated their concern as they repeated and wrote the prices. This initiated the next step –the lifting and use of the pocket calculator. They weren’t entirely bereft of technology.
“That will be six dollars and twelve cents”
“Twelve cents?”
They glanced at their notes.
“Yes, six dollars and twelve cents”
This transaction was conducted to the sound the Microsoft-boot-up-fanfare coming from all the registers every few seconds.
I counted out twelve cents and as I often do I said,
“If you have a five and a ten, I’ll give you $21.12”
She nodded and took the money. Another consultation with the pocket calculator fallowed. I then got my five and ten. As I accepted my coffee cup and soufflé I actually heard one of two girls huddled together behind the counter say,
“This is frightening!”
This is not to make fun of her as I don’t know what she knew that I didn’t. Yet, this is a classic example of what everybody knows. Older people and younger people each live in a separate economy that is scary to cross between –one physical and the other virtual.
It was days ago that a banker assured me that the applets each of us have to do bill paying online are just as secure as the application software banks use online for our same commerce except for the right to see each other’s account. I understood using a debit card would be even more secure. Some older people may use credit cards instead of debit for the scam insurance. Perhaps, as the banker suggested your personal info is more in danger by the businesses that you do business with than over secure hypertexts. But that would suggest we would all do well to pay cash as often as we safely know how to [a concept some “cashiers” may find frightening]. Whichever our world—cash or virtual—I’ve been through enough hurricanes to hope I never lose enough comfort in small cash purchases to do without electricity for a long time.
Meanwhile, I’m ready to start online purchasing.
This is frightening.

This entry was posted in General and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.