But the computer says…

I’ve often heard complaints from folks in various industries and in the arts about the dismal state of our education system that fails to teach children to think for themselves, to creatively problem solve, and consider solutions outside of the “normal” way of doing things. I’ve seen some of this over the years and I’m not convinced it’s entirely the fault of our education system but more a symptom of our society always looking for a quick fix (and there always being one available for a price). If it breaks, call the repairman. And computers and our reliance on them is a big part of that problem. (Ouch! – My keyboard just gave me a shock!!!)

Long forgotten is the concept of Garbage In, Garbage Out. Nobody considers that anymore. It’s just “the computer says” so….   (cue voice of god)

Today I got to experience that at one of my favorite pick-up-a-quick-healthy-meal venues, Saladelia. I have nothing bad to say about Saladelia – the food, the service, etc., etc., etc. BUT – well – they have their nifty little computer terminals at the checkout counter now that apparently communicate directly to the kitchen which is all of 20 feet away with an open window to the checkout area. People are constantly going back and forth so actual human interaction and communication is good and easy. I placed my to go  order with the nice young man at the counter and perhaps distracted him with some small talk because when I paid he handed me one of those put-this-on-your-table numbers. So I reminded him that this was actually a to go order and he got a worried look on his face and simply said “I’m sorry” and pointed to his computer terminal and that appeared to be the end of it. I was confused and asked him if maybe there was a different price since it was to go and he looked even more worried and pointed to the computer again (I can’t see the screen) so I said “you’ll change it to “to go”, right?” and he looked even more worried and then got that “I just had a brilliant idea” look on his face and said “Here’s what I’ll do. I’ll get you a to go box and when your meal comes you can just put everything in it and you’ll be all set.”

Now everything I ordered is in the salad display area at the checkout counter so it’s not like someone’s already preparing a meal for me back in the kitchen. Someone behind the counter actually has to fill my plate from the display and no one is doing that. There are several people standing around and I can’t imagine that they haven’t heard this exchange. So I go sit at a table with my little number and after about 5 minutes the girl who was standing next to the guy who checked me out fills a plate from the display and brings it to my table. I quickly scrape it all into my to go box and leave.

Perhaps the computer keeps tabs on the number of dishes that need to be washed and the number of to go boxes that are used. No? No. The computer says it’s “dine in” so the minions have to follow what the computer says. No one can say to the person standing next to them “this guy meant to have take out so just put it in a take out box instead of on a plate, ok?” I mean, the computer is always right, right?