This is an open letter to the robots in New Jersey that are replacing us humans (I know you're smart enough to read this). I ran into a food store yesterday and I was met by an obnoxious six foot robot on wheels. It was slowly scanning the floor apparently looking for spills. It was right in my way and it didn't care. In fact, it seemed cocky. I always thought I was a pretty nice person, but I want to ram my cart into it. I actually wanted to wipe the smug robot smirk off its face, but I won't because he looks expensive.
Next, I get to the register. Does anyone else hate self check outs? I will actually wait on line before using one. I don't know, it feels like us humans need to stick together. Also, I don't want to be a cashier on top of the 12 workday I just had. I don't want to memorize PLU codes or look up a squash's number in a flip book on the register, I just want to buy ingredients to go home and cook for my family. When did I become employed where I shop?
Then, I have to run to the bank. I run inside because I needed to get change. The person guiding the line was prompting me to use the ATM alongside the human tellers. I'm ok with ATM machines after hours but when you are inside the bank and there are human beings with a smile waiting to help, why not walk up and say hi?
Our phones (mini computers) have us on "social media" (where we learn to not be social in real life) and we're becoming more like robots ourselves. I feel it myself, especially after COVID. Human interaction is necessary for mental health, that's science. Why do you think solitary confinement is the worst level of punishment? Yet we are doing it to ourselves by letting computers and robots take away our visit to the local bank or food store. Did you ever have a deli remember your order and start making it for you before you say a word? It's an awesome feeling and I want my kids to feel that.
The worst offender of all this has to be the iPad restaurant. In my humble opinion, THEY ARE THE MOST SNOBBY PLACES ON THE PLANET. First of all, if I'm going out to eat it is because I'm either exhausted or I'm out for a fun time. Neither of those scenarios include me wanting to place my own order on and iPad!!!!!!!! Searching, scrolling, looking for the extra onion button...its maddening. Also, explain to me why we should tip when we put our own orders in, a food runner takes the food out to us and we only see the server once as she yells, "everything OK?" while still walking. No, it is not OK. What happened to a friendly banter? Customer service? Interaction? That is part of the experience.
Now, it has gone a step further with the automat kitchen. Have you heard about this? Some people will love this but you can guess how I feel about it. Full disclaimer, I have not been here and the food may be fantastic for all I know, but it is the concept I personally reject. You order your food on the app, pay online, then you head to the automat to pick your meal up from a sort of safe deposit box. There is no human contact, and that is actually their selling point. I'm sure the food is served up hot...but the concept to me is cold. I'm sure post COVID, I'm extra sensitive to the lack of human contact. It just seems like we are getting too OK with technology totally taking over when what we really need is a Cheers moment with everyone knowing our name.
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