The Witless Clunkery of a Third-Rate Mind

Sunday, January 27, 2008

All Hail the New Age of Technology!

Technology is supposed to make things easier, but I sometimes wonder if our love for modernization is sometimes taken too far. Today, I went to pay my overdue fines at the school library, (I hadn't read the notification emails the system generated for me automatically) only to be informed that they had upgraded the system and they no longer did anything so "backwards" or "retro" as taking "cash money". I guess taking that filthy paper and those grubby little coins is beneath the staff at the library now. Plus, a "cash drawer" is so downright medieval ... So, this is how you pay a library fine in the 21st century, apparently.

1) Walk 5 minutes over to the student co-op store, and borrow a co-op membership card. This itself costs 500 yen (5 bucks) but is refundable. Then, load the little microchip on the co-op card with the amount you are required to pay. (Say, 100 yen in fines.)

2) Walk 5 minutes back to the library, and go to the Automatic Certificate Issuing Kiosk. Follow the step-by-step instructions on the computer screen. As none of these will actually work, much less make any sense whatsoever, call the human librarian over to help you.

3) Spend the next 5 minutes struggling through the menu system until you finally reach the option to "Print Payment Received Certificate".

4) Select the amount you wish to pay (100 yen) and press "Print Certificate".

5) You will be asked to swipe your (borrowed) co-op card. This won't work the first 19 times, but don't give up!

6) The 100 yen is subtracted from the card automatically, and a certificate saying as much is printed out.

7) Take this certificate to the human librarian, who will examine it closely, stamp it, and then place it in a very high-technology "certificate drawer" which I suspect used to be a laughably primitive "cash drawer" at one stage in the distant past (i.e., last month).

8) Walk 5 minutes back to the student co-op to trade in your now-useless co-op card and get back your 500 yen deposit.

9) Walk 5 minutes back to your office and wonder where you lunch break went.

So, in summary, an operation which used to have one step and took approximately 30 seconds (hand human librarian a coin, which is then placed in a drawer) now has 9 steps and takes the better part of half an hour. Ain't technology grand?