“Yes, computer. I understand.”

11 Jul


There was a day when you could go into a store for a pair of socks, pick out the ones you wanted, note the posted price, go to the cashier and pay for them…even if there was a discrepancy in the advertised price.

“Pardon me, sir.  The posted price for these socks was $2.00 but you’re charging me $4.00.”

“Oh”, the clerk would respond, “that is certainly our mistake.  Glad to let you have the socks for $2.00.  Sorry about that.”   It was called “good customer relations” or “commercial hospitality”.

Now, however, computers rule.  I made a sock run this afternoon at a local store, found the ones I wanted under a sign that read: “Buy one package, get a second for $1”.  Sounded fine to me.  Off to the cashier I go, present my new socks and reach for my faithful credit card.  I figure the total will be $15…$14 for the first package and $1 for the second.  “That will be $21”,  she said.  “I beg your pardon?  I think it’s $15, given the sign in the socks section.”  I explained in detail.  Then she explained in detail.

“Sir, I’m very sorry.  Even though the sign is as you report, the computer says I have to charge $21 for this purchase.”  “But you advertise them for $15”, I countered.  “I understand what you’re saying, sir, but I can’t argue with the computer.  It controls our prices.  I can’t change what the computer says.  It’s in charge of all pricing.”  Somebody pinch me and tell me I’m dreaming.

What have we come to?  I’m dealing relatively well with the insanity of politics right now.  My anxiety level is under control concerning global climate change, at least for the moment.  I’m even rather serene remembering that my dog peed on the living room carpet the other day, requiring a visit from  professional rug cleaners.  Now, though, this is it!  This may be the moment that sends me mumbling into the Sonoran Desert.  The computer rules!?  Really?

At home again, while removing my blood pressure cuff, I calmed myself by concluding that I have the last laugh on that computer.   I didn’t really need the stupid socks, anyway.

So there.


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