Sunday, February 21, 2016

On the coming end of small talk :(

There was only one person working the sales register at the store, and she was experiencing technical problems.  The two young women ahead of me in the line were getting antsy--not anything unusual in a contemporary world of everything right now, right away. One of them took out her smartphone and checked something; maybe some earth-shattering post on Snapchat!

"I'll be with you women soon.  Thanks for waiting" the sales clerk at the register said.

I suppose I did not matter.  Well, she joined a long line of people who ignore me ;)

Finally, it was my turn.

"I'm sorry for the wait" she said.  She did not sound sorry at all.  She couldn't care, really.

"Hey, you can make up for it by giving me 25 percent off" I joked.

"A charm discount, eh."

"Oh no. In my case it will be a charm tax then. One look at me and people want to charge more" I replied.

As I walked to the car, I wondered whether the days of talking with a sales checkout clerk are numbered.  With all the online shopping, and self checkout at stores, this human interaction will become a part of history.

I was reminded of the discussions in a class a few days ago.  Most of the students were clear in their preference for less human interaction in commercial transactions.  "I don't like to make eye contact" said one.  And when I said I love small-talk, one shook her head expressing vehement negation.  It was clear that an old-fashioned humanist like me will become even more of a misfit!  A hermit I might be, but I love humanity.

It was a day to run errands.  I headed to another store. The winds made the raindrops come from the sides and not from above.  I parked and hurried into the store.  A crew of young employees was busily restocking the shelves.

A few minutes in the store and I was done.  No lines at the checkout.

"Your day going well?" asked the young woman.

"Yes, indeed."  And then added, "you are not missing anything by staying inside. The weather outside is crappy."

"I'm happy that this is is not my day off" she replied.

"That'll be a bummer, right?  To work when the days are gorgeous, and then when you get off work it is all horrible weather?"

She smiled.

Apparently the days of such small-talk are numbered.  Thankfully, so is my existence!

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