The Column

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I prefer personalized service, thank you

As much as I love progress and all things high-tech, there are some aspects of this brave new world I wish they'd killed off in the incubator.

Now, understand where I'm coming from here. This isn't some neo-Luddite railing about progress. I'm pretty plugged in for a geezer. I have my Web-enabled cell phone on my hip, and I do much more communication via text message than I do with voice. I have my netbook close at hand, an mp3 player with headphones dangling from my neck, and a few thumb drives secreted on my person every waking hour.

I'm a great fan of any tech that makes my work and my life easier, and I especially enjoy any such toys that I can play with, take apart, hack the system a little bit, and adapt it to my needs. I'm all for it, and it turns out I'm not the only technophile among my age group.

However, tech shouldn't replace common sense, and I draw the line at erasing the human touch.

OK. So I've become used to doing all my banking online. Sure, I miss those cute bank tellers who know me by name and can continue whatever conversatiuon we'd started the week before. I'll sacrifice all that for something that saves me time or a trip, or makes my life more convenient. But there are still limits.

I think it was a trip to the pharmacy that convinced me where my boundaries lie.

I usually do my grocery shopping at the local Big Box store, and I can do it without feeling guilty about feeding the Chinese economy or the Big Box Conglomerate. I don't much care to visit the place because of my dislike for crowds, but price and convenience trump everything and to compromise I tend to batch my trips there. In this case, though, I made a special trip just to fill a prescription at the Big Box Pharmacy attached to the Big Box Store.

So I submitted my prescription, found a seat on the bench about 20 feet away from the pharmacy counter, and relaxed. Chilled out watching the live version of People Of Big Box, which is a lot scarier than the online version. But I digress ...

So I'm there, relaxing on the bench in the pharmacy department and people-watching when my phone went off. I look at it and don't recognize the number, but I answered it anyway.

Couldn't even get off my standard phone greeting. Some automated voice began talking right away. I can't quote it verbatim nor would I want to, but this automated voice informed me that someone in my household has a prescription ready at the local Big Box Mart pharmacy and I can pick it up anytime.

Call me old-fashioned, but whatever happened to just looking out behind the counter, waving, maybe hollering something, making a public spectacle out of oneself? Whatever happened to just calling on the store intercom?

OK. I admit. I like personalized service, and you sure can't get it when some automated phone call coming from someplace (perhaps India?) tells me my prescription is ready.

Durn it all. Is there any way to bypass this whole process? Like maybe do the whole thing online, including the delivery?