Automation has its advantages. But I generally resist them. The supermarket where I shop recently installed a ‘self help’ line. They made it user friendly and I learned how to do it for those times when I all I need is a loaf of bread.
But I miss my friend the checker. She always asks about the family and usually offers a friendly smile. She’s kind of like our post woman who makes a point of personalizing a tedious job. Each of them make my day a little brighter.
Thinking these thoughts I noticed how routine I had become with my partner the other day when she came home from a conference and I offered a tepid ‘how’d it go?’ Worse, when she started to tell me I mindlessly walked out to water the flowers. I was in the self help check out line and had little relational awareness.
My insurance company gives me options but never people to talk to. The DMV does the same and the other day I called my bank and went through eleven different prompts before I got to a service representative who would ‘be with you shortly. You’re waiting time is… three minutes thirty seconds.’
I’ve been dumbed down beyond belief and I fear I’m starting to act as if my wife is simply another option – ‘I’ll be with you shortly. You’re waiting time is…’
She of course is not hostile about it and that’s what worries me. Is she getting used to being treated like another piece of data? We process enormous bits of information – work, children’s lives, grandchildren, home care, finances, personal health etc. Efficiency creeps in. Routine takes over. We passively comply with the bumper car life suburbia offers.
There was a time in our relationship when we’d fight over my distractedness. Now, I worried, is she simply getting used to it? Has she ‘settled’ for a bozo who can’t wake up to her presence? Am I so inattentive that one day I’ll come home and find a note – “went to happy hour with the carpenter.”
So I asked. I sat down with her on the couch, of course the Dodgers were playing San Diego and were losing in the 7th so I had to make it quick. “Are we OK?” I weaseled. “Why do you ask?” she said glancing at the radio as the announcer cheered a base hit by the Dodger pitcher. “Well” I responded, I’m wanting you to know that you’re important to me even if I don’t always act like you are?”
“Really?” she said, a soft smile creeping over her lovely lips. “Yes, really. And just because I sometimes get distracted doesn’t mean that I don’t love you or cherish you.”
“What?” she said.
“Padres got a double play. Inning over. Dodgers lost.”
“I’m going to bed.”
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