Thursday, August 19, 2021

Pencil and paper

 In Sunday's Skeeter post, I mentioned a story about pencil and paper. I know such methods are "old school", but ..........

Last Saturday, I went into a local auto parts shop to by floor mats for the car we recently purchased for our daughter. She is going to be commuting back and forth to college this year and she needed some wheels. I looked around inside the shop and found a set that were the right size and the right color.

I took them up to the clerk behind the register to finalize the purchase. That's when it started. 

"I can't seem to ring this up. The computer thinks we don't have any stock, it won't allow me to continue."

"But you're holding them right in your hand!".

"Let me try another register"

Same result - the computer running the register(s) thinks there is no stock  No stock - no purchase - even though there most definitely IS stock on hand.

I offered a solution. "Why don't you just ring it up manually, then?"

That's when I got "The Look". You know ...... the look like you're a visitor from another planet, you have three heads and you've just asked this guy to take you to his leader.

"Ummmm ..... we can't do this manually"

What the bloody heck?  "You can't do a manual transaction?", I asked - somewhat dumbfounded.

"No, this is a problem for the IT Department. They'll have to fix this. I can hold these on the side for you if you want to come back another time."

I took the mats, politely said "No, thanks" and put them back on the rack and left the store.

I hate to sound like an old geezer, but I remember my retail days when cash registers were mechanical, the electric ones could be overridden, and if you wanted a receipt we wrote it up using a pen on a receipt pad that had carbon paper to make duplicates.

How is commerce going to continue with such a reliance on the internet and computers if and when the fecal matter hits the rotary air oscillating device?

Is it a generational gap thing? Is it a laziness thing? Is it something else? This was by no means a major transaction - but what if it was? Suppose I had items that totaled up to hundreds of dollars? You turn that away because you can't perform a manual transaction? This boggles my mind.

We ..... and I include myself in this .... rely on computers way too much. To relate this to Amateur Radio, I think from now on, I am going to print out my Amateur Radio logbook and regular, periodic updates and keep it in a 3 ring binder someplace - besides keeping it backed up on a thumb drive and on Google Drive. There's just too much data - 43 years worth of QSOs to lose should something happen. But, on the other hand, I suppose if something of that magnitude were to happen, my personal Ham Radio history might be the last thing I'd be worried about, anyway.

But still ............ I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around this.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least.


  1. Excellent post. I agree 100 percent. I have experienced the same event in several retail businesses. I Would go further than just the amateur radio logging issue. Minimalist QRP station construction comes to mind, even from kits. Too much reliance on plug and play. A simple MFJ Cub should be put together at least once. I know it is low-tech but that is what we are losing. The ability to appreciate and use low-tech when necessary. Like a pencil and sheet of paper. 73/73 F8WBD

  2. Stupid is the new smart. These giant corporations are run by the accounting department. They don't want the employees to be able to do anything manually, because they're afraid that they might use this knowledge to their own advantage.
    They don't care about you.
    They don't care that they lost a sale.
    It's a sad state of affairs. Welcome to the 21st Century!


  3. Amazing, isn't it! I drove through a drive through and my bill was $5.37. I gave the girl a $10 bill and a quarter, a dime and two pennies. She had to call the manager to figure out how to just give me a $5 bill for my change. Amazing how the new math does not compute in some of their heads...!!!!!