Last week, I was sitting on a plane, thinking about my next blog post? I had been in England for a week and had enjoyed a glorious English summer (unusual). The countryside looked so green and lush and gardens were bursting with colour! Plus a few BBQs, country pubs and a tea party at my aunt and uncle’s and I was pondering why we decided to leave England?
I realised I was looking at England through the eyes of a tourist and sorry, but there are a few things I don’t miss, like the grey skies, cold winters, rain and the M25 ‘carpark! I certainly do not like the rush rush, the hard sell and the more and more computerised lifestyle that England has embraced.
Then a few experiences I had there really set me wondering if the geeks that design computer programs ever consider using common sense or just keeping human beings?
I forgot when popping into Sainsburys, that the self-service check-out tills have been ‘breeding’ in my absence and I’m directed to one in a polite but firm manner. Of course as a ‘trainee’ still, I made a mistake scanning and needed a human being to help me. Then, I scanned a bottle of wine and needed another human being to confirm I was over 18 years old!
But it got much better than this, when taking the hotel bus from Heathrow to the Holiday Inn to collect my hire car. The bus driver had no change for a £5 fare and there were several of us with £10 and £20 notes. But, hey, no problem, I could pay by bank card. ‘No, computers down’ the driver said proudly. Knowing this, did the driver ensure he had plenty of change and used his common sense, no! We had all been waiting over an hour for the hotel bus and then he suggested we all go back into the terminal and get change – would he wait for us – no! In order to be allowed on the hotel bus, a few of us clubbed together and paid for others tickets, knowing we knew we would be refunded at the car hire desk on arrival. The car hire company didn’t hold cash in their plastic card world and so I was informed that only after my return ride back to Heathrow, could I then claim the money by photocopying my bus tickets and then e –mailing them and waiting 21 days for a computer to refund!
My lovely Mercedes hire car had a super-duper on-board computer which had a bright red triangle light which lit up when I was driving too close to the car in front – common sense? No, just annoying as I was bumper to bumper at 10 mph on the M25!
Getting ready for my return, I thought I would check-in for my flight indoors on the computer – common sense, I think so. It was simple, all I then had to do on arrival at the airport, was go to the ‘bag drop’ desk at BA terminal 5 Heathrow and go through security and have a nice leisurely coffee. But I was directed to a computerised check-in desk, where I had to scan my boarding pass, print off my own luggage tag and attach to my case as instructed by the computer. (Well, OK but I don’t remember applying for the job of BA ground staff….)
My case happily wobbled along the conveyor belt, got stuck and the computer flashed up ‘congratulations, your luggage has been refused !!!’ and then ‘wait for assistance’. After all this, a human being was required and said to me ‘don’t worry, it’s OK madam, you have probably not put the baggage label on correctly’, quickly followed by ‘oh! madam you did do it correctly!!!!’. Shock, horror I could understand a computer or had I just used my common sense? Anyway, the human climbed onto the conveyor belt and rescued my case and then had to over-ride the computer and re start the whole baggage check-in again.
From all the hustle and bustle to Almeria airport, where you disembark and walk across the tarmac to the terminal where the pilot is waiting to bid you farewell! I am very quickly reminded of the personal touch in Spain and yes, this is sometimes very slow and could even be mistaken for lazy or disinterested. But I think that basically the Spanish resist against a rushed and computerised lifestyle plus it saves their jobs. (Except Spanish banks but that is another ‘post’!)
Anyway, I’m now a qualified supermarket check-out person and airline check-in person and all unpaid labour! I’m looking into the future when I will be loading the baggage on the plane or even flying it!!???