Thursday, May 7, 2009

Are We Really Saving Time?

Every once in awhile, I ponder the things that fill our world. They are meant to save us time, to make our lives easier, more efficient.

But I think maybe they just make us lazy and cranky when they don't work.

First example, the electric pencil sharpener. I can see this might be handy if you had to sharpen A WHOLE BUNCH of pencils at once. But in most cases, I think we just sharpen one or two pencils at a time. And really? Keeping a pencil sharpener plugged in for the occasional pencil is a waste.

Secondly, the self-check out line. I love the concept of the self-check out lane. It should be easy. It should save tons of time as I go through easily and effortlessly with my few items. Unfortunately, the self check-out lane has only provided a whole new avenue in which to get annoyed at people. I don't understand why you would ever think it would be easier to take 50 items through the self check-out lane than an experienced fast moving checker. I don't understand why you would act totally surprised when it comes time to pay and end up digging through your purse for 5 minutes.

But even more than getting annoyed at people, I get annoyed at the machine. The other day I waited for some people who took their leisurely time to go through. Then I waited for the receipt tape to be changed. (at this time I was wondering why I thought this would be quicker) and after that? I scan one item and the machine freezes. But unfortunately, no one is around to help me unfreeze it.

I guess there's really just no replacing human contact. Or maybe there is. Shopping online!

So....what modern "conveniences" end up annoying you more than helping you or seem completely pointless?



Meghan said...

Automated operators when you call a company. So many times the option I want is not listed or it takes fifteen minutes to reach a real person, and then longer to deal with the issue! Obviously, people are not necessarily always better, but at least they should be trained in all the options and have a mind of their own to deal with unusual requests.

I'm with you on the self checkout lines. Half the time, you need the one person who is attending the machines, but there are always 4 or more so the person is never around when you need them. It's worse here because they need to age verify things like plastic cutlery and tylenol. Might as well just go through the line!

bermudaonion said...

I rarely use the self check-out because I don't think they save time and I think it's a way for the store to provide me less service for my money - not to mention the potential of job losses.)

Anonymous said...

With the constantly improving higher powered computers and the increasingly broader broadband delivering the internet to our computers, I now finding myself getting annoyed when it takes several seconds to download a web page. Sheesh - 15 years ago, even 10 - you sometimes had to log onto a page and then go for a walk for 15 minutes and come back before you could read the page.

We're so spoiled with these fast paced zippity Doo Da techno days that our collective patience as a species has atrophied significantly, I think.

trish said...

The self-checkout line is LAME! I agree that it absolutely does not save time. I only use it if there's a line on all other checkout lines and I can get to self-checkout really quickly.

One thing I think is a complete waste of time is fancy schmancy wine openers. I suppose part of my reluctance to use those comes from having worked in the restaurant industry for 10 years, so I've opened hundreds of bottles of wine, but really nothing beats a regular corkscrew.

One thing that does save time, though, is a DVR.

Amee said...

I'm pretty anti-social so I love the self checkout. Really though, I've gone through with my mom before and 50 items and we never had trouble. Neither of us have ever worked as a cashier in a grocery store though. Maybe we just have a natural knack for scanning and sacking groceries. :p

I can't think of anything that annoys me like that. I'm trying but coming up with nothing.'d think there'd be something!

Chrisbookarama said...

I 2nd automated operators.

Even though I use one cell phones are an annoyance either everyone is on one or it rings at a bad time. Plus, anyone can get you anywhere.

Btw, I'll host an award for BBAW (I forgot to email you back).

Julie P. said...

You are too funny! I will second your thoughts on the self-checkout! I always feel bad for the people behind me b/c I can freeze the machine every time. You'd never know that I was a grocery cashier during college.

Beth F said...

Ok I have read the other comments and I haven't read the rest of your post. But stop the presses!! I could not live without my electric pencil sharpener (battery, really). When working on a manuscript, I am writing for 6 to 8 hours a day. I need to jam that pencil into the sharpener without looking and without effort -- sometimes as much as every 10 minutes all day long. No, no. I would be miserable without it. There, phew. I've gotten that off my chest. Now I'll go read the rest of the post.

Beth F said...

Ok. I was so excited I messed up my first line in my first comment. I meant I had NOT read the comments or the rest of your post. I'm all calm now. LOL!

I agree about the self-check lane. And the automated telephone systems are horrible too.

I'm looking at my faithful pencil sharpener and remembering that I actually wear them out. They don't seem to last more than two or three years.

MotherReader said...

The GPS annoys me because now my husband turns it on for any trip we take, and I mean any trip. It's all I can do to not throw the thing out the window when it tells us how and when to turn onto our street.

I've never thought those automated phone systems were for our convenience, but for the company's. However, you used to be able to "fool" it by simply not selecting any numbers and you'd be transfered to a person. No more.

Kathleen said...

I like the self checkouts. I go through them pretty fast and if it's not faster than it's at least about the same. There are people though that go through it and shouldn't. It took me two tries to figure out how to work it and when they changed it around I quickly figured it out myself. 80 year old people who move slowly should not check themselves out.

I also hate automated phone operators with a vengence. For the most part you can just hit 0 and it will go to operator. Try it.

However my annoying "time saving" convenience is revolving doors like in hospitals and hotels. I could easily open the door and walk through MUCH MUCH quicker than slowly walking through those things. GRR.

Jenn M said...

I'm lame and can't think of any on my own...but I agree with everyone.

Electric pencil sharpeners, unless you are a teacher, writer, or hold some other profession where you must write or sharpen a lot, its a waste.

I dispise the automated telephone systems. They never have the option I want and they never have the press 0 for an operator....but usually if you press 0 enough it takes you to a real person. :)

I've only used the self check-out a few times, when I've had like 3 things and there is no one in line and haven't had a problem yet.

The GPS can get on my nerves too. My husband turns it on to go to the grocery store! It's down the stinkin street! I promise it didn't move!! GPS is helpful at other times though...

OOOh I thought of one on my own! I dispise electric can openers. First of all I am not smarter than the can opener, and it always seems like more hassle than it's worth. It the time it takes me to hook the can on...I could have gotten the old fashioned one out and opened 3 cans! It to me classifies as a waste of space on my counter. My coffee machine plugs in...but I cannot make coffee by hand as good as it, so it has proven it's worth. My toaster...I cannot toast bread manually, so the toaster is allowed on the counter.

This has become a really long post so I am going to shut my mouth now :)

Jena said...

Hahahaha. Self-checkouts are new to my town, though I often used them back in Ohio, and let me tell you, people here were pretty miffed that the store thought it would be a good idea to remove two or three checkout lanes (which were never open anyway, I swear) to put in U-Scans. I find that I don't like to use the U-scans if there's a short line for a cashier and I have produce or lightweight items (though these machines are funny--it's the first time I've encountered a "do not bag" button, which solves the problem of the scale not picking up lightweight items).

And my cellphone is totally counter-intuitive. I like having a cell phone, but dealing with both Telus and my phone (and my husband's stupid Diamond Touch) makes the whole experience not worthwhile, and I have no desire to continue my relationship with them when this contract is up (which is, unfortunately, 2.5 yrs from now).

Allie said...

I've stopped using the self-checkout lines. Either the person in front of me can't figure out how to do something, or something won't scan right, or using my reusable bags creates a problem. It really is just easier to go to a real checker, even if the line seems longer.

Bookfool said...

Self check-outs are the worst invention, EVER. My husband always uses them, but I go through the regular check-out because it never fails . . . something will lock up or refuse to scan. And, unless you pay with cash, you usually have to wait around for someone to punch in a code to approve your payment. Shoot, if they're going to do that, they might as well do the scanning.

Ti said...

With two kids in the house, I need an electric sharpener! I was just thinking this the other day when both kids sat down to do homework and none of the 100+ pencils they had, had a sharp point. I was sitting there trying to do it the old way and getting frustrated.

I agree on the self checkout. I really think it is meant for a handful of items...not a shopping cart filled with food which is what the people at the Super Walmart try to pull off. I always want to hurt someone when I leave there.

S. Krishna said...

SO TRUE about self-checkout! My husband hates it.

Anonymous said...

Cell phones! Especially the text messaging feature. I have mine disabled, and it drives me crazy when my boss is talking to me and then stops when her phone beeps. Grrrrrrrrrr.

Also, I'd be really happy if someone could dis-invent the television.

Renee said...

I despise BlueTooths.... I think folks look insane appearing to be talking to themselves. And besides I dont' want to hear their conversation; take it somewhere private

Thomas said...

I know that this is off subject and I hope that I remembered the date right and I know that it is a day early. (way to many ands)

Happy Birthday Amy. I hope that it is filled with a lot of love and laughter.


Ana S. said...

I so completely agree with Renee about BlueTooths! They're just...weird.

Susan @ Reading Upside Down said...

I'm with everyone above regarding the automated operator. Even worse are the ones that use voice commands rather than having to press phone buttons. My daughter walked into the room and asked me a question when I was wading through an automated system during a recent phone call and whatever she said sent me off to some option that had nothing to do with what I wanted - I had to start all over again!

I can see the value of electric pencil sharpeners for some, but fail to see why we need battery-powered erasers. My children wanted to get one the other day from OfficeWorks. I told them it was cheaper to just not make mistakes. :-)

Susan @ Reading Upside Down said...

Forgot to add that people using BlueTooth drive me crazy.

Teddy Rose said...

Self check outs are just starting to arrive here. my husband and I were at Home Depot and decided to try it. The regular check out line was aweful, only on was open. First we wait for the people in front of us. They took their sweet time, then their credit card was refused. The went through 3 credit cards before one worked. Of course I figured they were over extended.

Then we went to check out and one item wouldn't scan and were give the message to ask for assistance. So we push the help button and about 5 minutes later someone comes waddling up to us and punches in a number. They leave of course and the our credit card is rejected. We know that we have over $30,000 of credit on that card AND WE PAY OF OUR ENTIRE BALANCE EVERY MONTH. Again we push help. Same person waddles over and says oh yah, this check out is refusing credit card for some reason. She has to go to a cash register and put it through there.

So what is the point? Is it there just to annoy us? LOL!

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