Any old bug can hit a windshield, but it takes real guts to stick to it - Anonymous
My wife and I took some time recently to drive over to the Seattle area to visit our daughter and family. The trip was relatively uneventful as road trips go, but there were a few times technological glitches were a problem. They helped point out the value of humans, despite the wonders of this “connected” age we live in.
The first bug-a-boo we ran into was at a gas station outside Spokane where we decided to spend the night. We had checked into our motel (and unplugged the alarm clock; last time there some joker had set the alarm to wake the room’s occupants at 3 a.m.) and decided to head out, grab a bite to eat, and gas up the truck.
I gave the pump my bank card to start the process, but it (the machine) wasn’t happy; it directed me to go inside and talk to the cashier. Such things are a bit of an annoyance, but they are done for our security. A Washington pump sees a card from a Montana bank and wonders if the user is legit, and while it normally would ask for a PIN or zip code, this one wasn’t taking any chances. I think some machines have an electronic ego by which they hope to catch some miscreant in the act of miscreantry – and thereby gain fame within the wizarding world of Gizmos and Gadgets as “the Pump that caught the Big One.”
So I went in and presented the cashier with my credentials. As luck would have it, it was his first day on the job and his machine hadn’t given him an adequate security clearance to override the Pump which, from my vantage point, had begun puffing out its metal chest just a bit.
Now, at any point along the line here, I could have simply pulled out a different card and started over but, oh no; there was no way I was going to let this beast get the best of me and my perfectly fine bank card (which was quivering pitiably in the clerk’s trembling hands). By this time, the store manager had ambled on over to see what the holdup was (a phrase seldom used lightly in convenience stores) and the three of us stood there looking at one another like some scene out of a Spaghetti Western (I took dibs on the Clint Eastwood part, by the way). I am sure there was that macho Good, Bad, and Ugly music playing – if not in the store, then definitely between my ears.
After a most dramatic pause, the clerk explained what was happening. I could see tears welling up in his eyes and his manager, a grizzled veteran of many, many over-rides softened. She gently walked her rookie through the steps necessary to reboot the transaction so the Pump would be free to dispense its life-sustaining go-go juice – but the Pump rebelled. It would NOT be dismissed so lightly. It would NOT be told what to do or whom to serve.
At this point, the manager was no longer amused. She motioned her minion to step aside while she took charge of Central Command. She punched her ID code into the keypad, swiped the card along the card reader swiftly with strength and purpose and, with hand on hip, thundered forth, “Now don’t YOU give me no trouble”!
And it didn’t. At least, not exactly. We still had to do a funny bit of a work-around involving a deposit and a refund to get the Pump to acquiesce to the Manager’s instructions. But it complied, and that was the main thing.
Afterwards, she asked if I wanted a car wash (for which reason I had actually chosen that particular station for fuel). I looked into the gaping jaws of the wash-house and asked if it was connected to the same computer system as the Pump.
“Why, yes it is!” said the Manager (with a smile).
“Thanks,” I lied, “but I think we’re fine for now.”
The world is full of unsolved mysteries; I’ve got a feeling that the Bermuda Triangle has a younger sister living somewhere in Airway Heights. A storm is brewing, and it may soon be here – even here in this, our (mostly) sheltered valley.