high-tech, not always translate
to progress for all
Reading the opinion piece, The Cost of Going Cashless, by Pamela Paul, I came across this passage:
Going cashless sounds so sleek and shiny and tech-forward, but like many high-tech initiatives, it doesn’t necessarily translate into progress for all.
Given this country’s ongoing inflation, given the persistence of its profound wealth disparities, given the paycheck-to-paycheck lives of many Americans, widening another divide between the haves and the have-nots isn’t the cost-free leap forward proponents make it out to be.
Someone always pays the price.
The piece opened with the revelation that a scoop of ice cream from one of the 20 Van Leeuwen Ice Cream shops in New York City cost $6.50.
I should have stopped reading there and that seems to be just one more reason that people who live in New York City are just plain nutz.
We all know they are depressed because the light at the end of the tunnel for New Yorkers is New Jersey, but I digress.
The piece focused on how some stores, shops and restaurants are going cashless and will only accept cards and other forms of digital payment.
But I don’t live in New York City.
I live in the low country of South Carolina.
Digital payments have reached the low country but are as widely accepted as cash issued by the Confederate States of America.
For example we frequent a local pizza place.
So far as I can tell this local lady decided to get out of the southern cafe’ business and go into the pizza business.
With hired help hard to find, this lady brought her mom into the business with her.
While you can order a pizza from them online, it is a lot safer to call in your order and talk to one of the ladies.
You will get lots of ‘Hey Hun’ and ‘Okay Darlin’ in the brief conversation and you end your call with the feeling you just called a place in Mayberry.
They end the call with ‘Take us 10 minutes, so come by in 10, Got That?’
Then you drive over there and the fun starts.
What this shop needs is an old fashioned cash register.
What someone did was talked these two ladies into getting is a state of the art computer menu, ordering, payment and inventory management system.
I walk in and the bell rings and Mom comes and asks my name.
I say MIKE.
She nods and turns to the kitchen and yells ‘pie for MAAAAAAEK’ and the box is slid out onto the counter.
Mom turns to me and tells me the price of $19.20
I point to the sign and say its a tailgate special at $13.00.
She bends the sign back then turns her head upside down to read and lets the sign snap back up and says to me, ‘That’s on Friday.”
I say, ‘it IS Friday.’
She puts her hands on hips (imagine Grandma Walton in a Pizza Apron and black high top sneakers and a baseball cap), sighs, looks off and thinks for a bit and says, ‘Oh it is.’
Then she looks at my hand and sees my debit card.
And she sighs again.
She takes my card and looks at the two computer monitors to her side.
Understand that when you enter the digital world in the Low Country there is a one, single provider for everybody.
Everyone down here is on the same service.
Your wi-fi access lives and dies with this one company and when they are up we are all up, up, up!
But when they are down, we are DOWN!
If they are only half way up, they are neither up or down … but we all wait.
You should hear my son scream when he is playing XBox.
Mom selects one of the computers and leans her head back to use her bifocals and starts pressing buttons on the screen.
There is a beep and she looks around for the card holder, finds it, and sweeps my card.
There is wait and few more beeps then another sigh and she yells ‘It’s doing it again!’
Then Daughter comes out of the kitchen and she looks over the scene.
‘Mother!’ she says, ‘I said you have to use this computer’ and goes to the other monitor and she hits a bunch of buttons on the other monitor and there are few beeps.
Then Daughter says, ‘AS SOON AS IT BEEPS YOU GOT TO GIT THAT CARD IN THERE.’
And she swipes my card and they wait.
Then Mom points are the screen and says, ‘It’s doing it again.’
With a look of triumph Mom says, ‘I’d take that stupid bitch machine and throw it in the parking lot.’
That said, Mom returned to the kitchen.
Daughter starts all over again and then again and eventually rings me up and gets the my card into the machine and everything works.
Daughter hands me my receipt and says ‘Thanks MAAAAAKE, really appreciate it, Hun!’
By now I was happy to get my pizza though the show is something to see.
I didn’t have the heart to tell Daughter that she rang up full price and not my tailgate special.
She didn’t need to deal with right then … I bet it would have been interesting.
I keep telling my wife she has to come along just to experience this for herself.
We ordered another pizza the other night.
I brought a $20 bill.
The ladies were grateful.
The people in line waiting on card transactions were jealous.
As Ms. Paul wrote, “Going cashless sounds so sleek and shiny and tech-forward, but like many high-tech initiatives, it doesn’t necessarily translate into progress for all.”