“It’s like watching a 3-year-old try to put on socks and boots before preschool. What is taking so long?”
— Jason Gay
My latest drive-thru experience did not go well. It began at the speaker when I placed my order and could not hear what the employee was saying.
Finally, I quit yelling at the small speaker box that needed painting and slowly said, “I don’t understand. I do not speak Static!”
There was a pause, then a voice responded more clearly and I realized somewhere inside the burger bunker, she had taken off her face mask.
“I said that it would be $5.21,” replied the voice of a young woman.
I thanked her and inched my vehicle forward, ready to commit commerce.
I pulled up to the window and handed her a $5 dollar bill, a quarter and a penny, as close as I could get to a clean transaction. I expected to be rewarded with a nickel and a smile
Instead I got neither.
She looked at the currency in my hand like it was covered in COVID cooties and sighed. That’s when I realized she had wanted me to hand her a credit-debit card or maybe show her a smart phone app, which would let her machine handle the transaction.
Instead I had messed her up. I had made her do math.
Say what you will about today’s younger generation. They might like change, but they have trouble making it.
They are, on the other hand, good at other stuff. Whenever my son and his wife come over for a visit, we always seem to ask them questions about smart-phone apps and computer complications. They good-naturedly cooperate, and indulgently fix things, usually with ease. I’m sure they chuckle about it all the way home.
But generations have always had such gaps. My father often complained about the cable TV controller and his problematic iPad tablet.
However, I remember when I was 10 or so and I asked him one Sunday afternoon how a car worked. He got out a piece of scratch paper and roughly sketched a combustion engine, and explained spark plugs, pistons, cylinders, crankshafts, cams, etc. Not too much detail, but much patient understanding. I gained comprehension.
I’m not sure we do that anymore.
There’s too much rush toward result and not enough realization as to how we arrived.
I, for one, never spent much time considering how a computer works. I simply mastered the sequence of steps I needed to make a desktop, laptop or smart phone do what I wanted it to do.
I’m not saying we need to know how everything works. Hot water heaters, air conditioners and bathroom backups allow me to reward the local service economy.
It’s how we all get along. It’s how we all share the burden. It’s how we all show a little compassion. And it’s how we all hold our tongue when the young woman at the drive-thru window hands back 4 pennies for the nickel you’re owed.
(Bill Kirby has reported, photographed and commented on life in Augusta and Georgia for 45 years.)