I’ve been encouraged to continue my (probably futile) campaign against automated supermarket checkouts by the way my regular checkout lady remembered a) that I’d been on holiday and b)where to. I now make it a rule to choose a human over a machine on all possible occasions. However… the lure of Internet shopping is very powerful.  I mean, when you need latex fairy ear tips and you need them pretty sharpish what are you going to do but go to fairyeartips.com?

This morning, faced with a rapidly dwindling week and a long list of jobs to get through I started with the online route and then abandoned it. First there was a magazine subscription renewal form that rejected any non-US address in spite of the fact that they mail the magazine to Europe. It would have been satisfying to tell a human their website sucks but I’m not calling the States so I had to content myself with sending an email to customer services.

Next up was a psychodelically busy UK website from which I wished to buy a gift voucher for one of our grandsons. We recommend, it said, that you call us to discuss your voucher requirementsSo I did and spoke to Maureen who wrote out the message I wanted to put on the card and asked me what the weather was doing in Dublin.

Encouraged by this human contact I then called the restaurant where I was hoping to have my birthday lunch next week but had singularly failed to achieve anything with their online booking service. Two rings and I got the excellent Lorraine who, loyal to her employer and sympathetic to her customer, sighed very faintly and said, ‘Tell me what kind of table you’d like.’ What kind of table? Where shall I begin? Not down-wind of the toilets. Not so positioned that my chair gets wafted by the service door every time a waiter passes through. We settled on a quiet table.  If Lorraine is as good as her word Mr F will be immensely chuffed. 

So let us treasure our Lorraines and Maureens. And remember, your tea lady may not be at her trolley 24/7 but unlike the ****ing machine in the lobby she won’t take your money and leave you with a cup of hot water and no change. Furthermore she will remember how many sugars you take and may even have a safety pin or a paracetamol about her person. Humans. You can’t beat them. 

    

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