As Mrs. Carmichael said to Mr. Mooney on her way to London in 1965, “Oh the age we live in. Jetting here and jetting there.”
If she only knew …
I am old enough to remember when one had to remember phone numbers. Remember when you had to remember phone numbers? Now, I have to look in my contacts to remember my own number. The other night, I called to order Chinese take-out, and I could not remember my home phone number. Seriously. So I said, “What number is showing up on your screen?” They told me, and I said, “Are you sure? I guess that’s right.”
What is happening to us? I am all for progress, but soon we will be like the humans orbiting the earth in WALL-E. We will no longer have to do anything for ourselves.
Mrs. Carmichael, Mr. Mooney and WALL-E in one post – now that’s progress.
For me, the beginning of the end was the introduction of the automatic sink. This was also the moment when I discovered I was a vampire. I was shopping at the White Flint Mall, and I had to pee, which is no surprise since I always have to pee. My mother always called me the Official Bathroom Inspector. I once went for two hours without peeing. It turned out my kidneys had shut down, and I was experiencing multiple organ failure. I’m kidding.
Where was I? Oh yes. Well, I went to wash my hands. I pressed the soap dispenser, lathered up my hands then looked for a handle on the sink. There was none. There was a sign that said, “Hold your hands under the faucet, and water will automatically cascade down.” No, there was no sign. There were no directions at all. I witnessed someone else washing his hands, so I held my soaped-up hands under the faucet in the same manner. Nothing. I tried another faucet. Nothing. I tried three more before I asked someone to show me how to make it work. I did what he did. Again, nothing. I ended up dry rinsing my hands with paper towels. Needless to say, I was pissed.
Apparently, vampires cannot see their reflections, nor can they make automatic sinks work.
Following this wonderful invention was the electric paper towel dispenser. This I could make work. The problem was I couldn’t make it stop. I have large hands, which as you know means … large gloves. So, when I grab the electrically dispensed paper towel, another dispenses immediately, and this keeps happening until I walk at least ten feet away from the dispenser. I feel like Lucy Ricardo in the chocolate factory.
But, the worst of all is the electric toilet. These were installed in the building where I worked previous to where I work now. I remember the first time I sat on one. I sneezed. It flushed. Then I shifted my large ass I inherited from Nana. It flushed. Then I reached for toilet paper. It flushed. It sounded like fucking Niagara Falls in that bathroom. To make it more annoying, the toilet would splash up on each flush. I thought I was sitting on a possessed bidet.
ATM touch screens are another enemy of mine. As with electric sinks, my vampire hands apparently do no generate any human electromagnetism, so I end up punching the screens with my thumbs in an effort to get cash. This does get me a lot of free meals. “Can someone spot me on this? I couldn’t get the ATM to work, so I am a little short right now.” However, when I drive up to an ATM at the bank, I hear beeping from the cars behind me for the ten minutes I spend trying to get twenty dollars out of the machine. It would be easier and quicker to rob the bank.
Why do we need touch screens? I miss the buttons. The other issue I have with touch screens is how they are not convenient for those of us who suffer from gigantism. You should have seen me the first time I tried to use a GPS. “954 Gibbs Street, Rockville, MD” became “980546435 Ghfibvsd Wsttyreet,, Rpocxkjvbiolllw, MNSD.” Would you believe the Garmin found that address? It was in Chechnya. The weather was a bit cold, and the food was bit heavy for my taste, but I never tasted vodka like that before or since.
With touch screens, automatic toilets and possessed paper towel dispensers come more gadgets, devices and programs that do for us what we use to do for ourselves.
My favorites are spell check and grammar check. As an editor (and you wouldn’t believe I am one by what I have written so far), I laugh at spell check and grammar check. How many times have you typed a word and MS Word underlines it in red? So you try every which way to never to spell it, and you can’t. In my day, we consulted the dictionary, which is ironic because if you cannot spell the word, how can you find it?
Look up epitome. When I was ten years old, I spent three hours looking under “o.”
Now, you go to Google, type in the word, and Google corrects it. How many of you can spell “hors d’oeuvres”? I just had to go to Google to figure out how to spell it.
But, this is what most people don’t know. Spell check and grammar check are only as good as the person who inputted (is that a word) the words in the first place. Yes, a human typed in all the words, which is why in MS Word, grammar check incorrectly replaces “its” with “it’s.” For example, MS Word thinks this sentence is correct: “Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” And this one, too: “It’s smell is worse than Milton after he visits an all you can eat spaghetti bar.”
If you have the latest version of MS Word, they finally corrected it. However, it’s correction only took two decades, and they are convinced its right now.
There are a host of other problems with grammar check, and the sad thing is even I, a former English teacher, will second guess myself when a sentence is underlined in green. By the way, MS Word does not understand the use of the reflexive pronoun, so myself is underlined in green in the previous sentence ... and this one.
Now, I have my second smart phone. I had a Droid for two weeks. The problem was my vampire fingers could not unlock the screen. Literally, I couldn’t answer calls. No matter how many times I did the drag-queen-finger-snap-in-a-Z-formation over the screen, it would not unlock. I returned it for a regular cell phone with a keypad. Apparently, touch screen technology has improved because I can unlock the screen on my iPhone. But, the iPhone has another feature I am beginning to loathe. Autocorrect.
Yes, Mark Sleith, you were correct – it is all about Autocorrect!
But, let’s back up. Why do we need Autocorrect? I remember my first electric typewriter with spell check. It was a Brother, and there was a tiny screen above the keyboard that would display the words you were typing as you were typing them, which was kind of redundant. Every time it thought you misspelled a word, it would screech. If you were typing up term papers, that was OK. But, I was writing a screenplay with character names and Yiddish words, so it was like having your work reviewed while in process. Then Rona <screech> walked across the room and said, “Oy <screech> kevault <screech>, vas <screech> machst <screech> du <screech> dorton <screech>?” I would have been better off with Rex Reed looking over my shoulder.
When MS Word first came out, you had to run a spell check to see what you missed. Now you get those lovely red and green underlines I mentioned above. The drawback is everyone thinks their documents are error free if they have no red or green underlines, and you should see the crap that gets published on blogs these days … Ahem.
Back to the present, my iPhone has the ever lovely Autocorrect. Now, Autocorrect is as far from correct as you can get. It doesn’t correct; it suggests and changes words to the point where nothing makes sense.
For example: The other night, a friend texted me to see if I could chat, and I was in the middle of something, so I texted back what I thought was, “Give me five,” meaning give me five minutes. Autocorrect changed it to “Give me fibrous.” Needless to say, he was very confused.
Remember, Autocorrect and any of these functions were first inputted (still, is that a word?) by a human. So, somewhere there is a person who thinks when one types “five” he means “fibrous.”
According to my friend, Ed, “song” is changed to “thong,” which explains why my friend, Devon, is still wondering how I intend to write him a thong.
Let’s just hope these aren’t the same people who programmed those cars that drive themselves.
And yes, MS Word just underlined themselves.
Do you thing a thong, thing out loud or thing out throng? Follow me, tell your friends, or buy my book!