I can do this

The Victoria Standard - - Commentary / History - CHUCK THOMP­SON Along the Trail

As more sand slides down life’s hour glass, I find my­self forced to say, “I can do this”. This usu­ally is in re­sponse to some new gad­get or ap­pli­ca­tion. Not want­ing to be left be­hind, I try and mostly fail, to un­der­stand or use the lat­est thing on the mar­ket. Lack of in­ter­est com­bined with lack of prob­lem solv­ing skills leaves me strug­gling. No one likes to be left in the dust of progress, or what is pre­sented as progress. This week pro­vided me with the lat­est at­tempt to be a “modern guy”.

Dur­ing a trip to the “North­side”, I found my­self run­ning be­hind sched­ule, so I opted to grab a quick bite at a “fast food” restau­rant. The name shall re­main anony­mous, but they are all ba­si­cally the same. I walked in, and there was the usual swarm of school age kids milling about.

The first sign said, “Or­der on­line.” I thought this ironic as the young folks were or­der­ing on their smart phones not six feet from the counter. Each to their own, I rea­soned, and moved along ahead of them.

At this point, I was greeted by large, brightly lit screens telling me “Or­der here!” Want­ing to be a modern guy, I thought “why not?” Be­sides, tra­di­tional line­ups ap­peared to be non-ex­is­tent.

Con­fi­dently, I strode to the ma­chine as the clerks looked on with be­muse­ment. How did they know? I looked at the screen and pressed “burger”, then “fries” and then “diet soft drink” - I had to make some con­ces­sion to the waist line. I re­viewed my or­der and stood back flush with suc­cess. Ex­cept noth­ing hap­pened. The ma­chine did not say “sub­mit”, “add to cart”, or “con­firm.” It stood in mute tes­ti­mony to my in­ep­ti­tude.

I could see the old­est clerk edg­ing for­ward in case I needed her. I raised my hand, as if to say “No, I’m good, but thanks.” Ev­ery­one else be­hind me was or­der­ing on­line or pass­ing me to go to the counter so, I thought, I will try this again. Press burger, press fries, press diet soda. Noth­ing. Ab­so­lutely noth­ing. No bells, no com­mands, no taped voices. Noth­ing. The old­est clerk was lean­ing in now, her body lan­guage say­ing it all. I could feel the un­be­liev­ing stares of the teens be­hind me. They must have de­cided I was from the ice age.

There is an old say­ing that states “It is bet­ter to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all!” I guess so. Maybe. Af­ter two at­tempts at what an orang­utan could have man­aged, I gave up. The older clerk waved me over and gave me the smile of a sym­pa­thetic grand­mother.

“Hap­pens all the time,” she told me, “That’s why I never use those things.”

I think she was ly­ing through her teeth, but it was nice of her to say so. I got my or­der the old-fash­ioned way and even­tu­ally headed out belly full, but head empty.

All the way home, I kept won­der­ing if that older lady was just a plant of the restau­rant so folks like me could be served and moved out of the way? I pre­fer to think she was just some­one’s gram and was used to help­ing folks in dis­tress. Folks like me.

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