Sometimes I despair for the younger generation.
Am I just like generations previous, who lament the ineptitude and inabilities of youth?
I guess it is just another sign of getting older and crankier. Whinging about the youth of today?
Who can blame the kids? The goal of our evolving human race appears to be to make our time here on earth as easy and as convenient as possible. In making life comfortable and so tech-focused, we might be creating a culture of lazy inadequacy, or at least one where many self-reliant skills are fast disappearing. They ask such funny questions.
“You mean you had to walk to the television to turn it on and off or change the station?”
Young people ask incredulously.
“Yes, such was the bane of my late 20th-century life,” I respond. “It was hell.”
“Are you serious?” they ask wide-eyed, “You had to walk outside in the cold to go to the toilet?“
That was hell. But you get my drift?
Today, I was at the local department store, no names mentioned, collecting a small product, I had ordered online. In my mind, Click and Collect is the most wondrous of tech inventions. Press a few buttons, wait a couple of days and hey presto, your parcel is wrapped and waiting for collection at your nearest store, all within walking distance from my home!
Fantastic. Like magic.
I don’t have to worry about the postage getting lost, or searching up and down aisles for products in-store. Nor do I have to chase around several stores to find what I am looking for. Such a time saver for busy people.
It would have been another delightful time-saving experience today if the process was not stymied by the young people who confounded me with the contradictions in their inabilities.
They know their way around a multiplicity of software applications, downloads, uploads, Apple Pay, Google Pay, smartwatch configurations and yet sometimes I despair for them. They lack initiative.
Heading for the store, I clicked the link on my phone to say “I am on my way” to collect my parcel. Wow, I thought, they will even have my parcel ready to hand to me. What absolutely marvellous technology. What a time-saver. Seriously. I smiled widely as I approached the store’s entrance.
I then clicked the button on my phone indicating, “I have arrived,” as I neared the pickup counter, grinning. Fantastic.
That’s when it all went a little awry.
The queue to the counter was long and while that didn’t bother me, the confused look on the attendant’s face when I finally reached the counter, showing him the barcode and Order number, as instructed in the email, was the first red flag.
He waved his scanner at my phone and an unhappy sound emitted from his screen.
“Hmm mm“, was the most conversation he could muster to allay his customer’s click and collect anxiety.
He scanned it again and again, saying nothing to explain what was happening.
“Is something wrong?” I enquired to break the silence.
“Oh, sometimes the scanners don’t like the orders.”
Don’t like the orders? I thought to myself. It’s a sales order, not a popularity contest, for goodness’ sake.
Minutes elapsed with no further progress. Another attendant, now finished with her queue of customers, leaned over his shoulder and suggested he scan the barcode. That would have been helpful advice, if he hadn’t already done just that, twice.
“Enter the number manually,” she suggested.
Shall I just say there was a lot of ‘rinse and repeat,’ happening?
“Oh it’s an order from Catch,” she says, – “sometimes they go missing, and we can’t find them. They say they have arrived, but we can’t find them,” she says thinking I would be satisfied with that explanation. I wasn’t.
“Could it be out the back in the storage area?” I asked, trying not to sound too much like a know-it-all.
“I’ll go look,” says the first attendant, but returns after five minutes empty-handed.
More discussions take place between the two before they announce, “Oh, it’s a Catch order?”
I thought we’d established that fact sometime last century, I think under my breath. Although I do have to give the girl credit for again checking the storage area ‘out the back,’ and calling the front desk to see if it had arrived there. Again without any positive result.
The first attendant finally started a conversation, not a fruitful one, but nevertheless, he was finally speaking more than a one-word sentence to me, babbling about how delivery might come in just as the store was closing. My blank look must have initiated some kind of higher-level thinking as he then responded,
“I will get the Manager. He will ah, you know, see what he can do.“
To be fair to these two kids, they looked no more than 15 years of age and it was likely their first job dealing with people. They were rusty on customer service and rusty on communication. The Store’s policy to employ a young workforce to minimise costs was a flawed business strategy that came at a heavy price. Unhappy customers.
When the Manager arrived, he looked only a tad older than them. But thankfully, after that, we did make progress.
The Manager looked at my phone barcode and then asked for my full name. Within ten seconds, he had turned on his heel, darted into the storage area behind the door and returned with my parcel in hand. My parcel was – you guessed it – out the back!
My faith in this wondrous technology was restored instantly.
“How come you found it so quickly when these guys, (indicating the two attendants), couldn’t find it – out the back?” I asked.
The Manager shook his head, I really [pause]… don’t [head shake]… know.” I guessed the pause was most likely replaced under his breath with a silent expletive.
With that, I thanked him, took my parcel and was on my way home.
Marvellous that technology.