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Down with technology!

My latest vehicle, unlike the primitive previous one, is loaded with technological gadgets that make your life easier.

For instance, if I scream out a song title at the rear-view mirror, the computer will start playing one of the five-thousand songs on my iPod. It never gets the right one, but sometimes it gets pretty close.

Then I can holler who I want to call and the car will shut off the stereo, hook up to the phone in my pocket and dial approximately the person I said.

For instance, I yelled, "call Joe!" at the review mirror.

The car called Jordan. Jordan was out tending his bees and probably didn't want to be bothered, but he was very understanding when I said that the car dialed the wrong number and probably would do so three more times before I figured out how to say the word "Joe" properly.

I still haven't figured out how to pronounce Bach or Chopin so the car gets it right, but it understands the Rolling Stones and Willie Nelson, so I guess I am stuck with them for now.

Pretty neat, this technology.

To learn how to use the voice-activated system, I took a long drive a couple of evenings ago and ended up at Walmart.

I know we're not supposed to go to Walmart because they're killing the small towns and the kids in China and baby kittens --but a guy's got to have socks and underwear. Last I checked they didn't have socks and underwear down at the Cenex station, so what's a guy to do?

So, I picked up some socks and underwear and a few other items and headed to the checkout where I found some more neat new technology. Now you can check yourself out!

For years I have watched those checkers. Some are good, but the others? I keep saying to myself I could do that and do it three times faster and get it right the first time, too.

I decided to check myself out -- never mind that self-checkout is obviously a Walmart plot to make customers do all the work so they don't have to pay poor single mothers to do it for you.

Nothing went right. You think it is easy to run those items past the scanner, but it is not.

I tried the socks. No luck. It wouldn't beep. So I tried a chicken. There I stood slowly waving a dead chicken back and forth as if I was trying to cast a spell of some sort, waiting for the magic beep.

Same with the ham. It wouldn't scan. So I sat there punching in the numbers, just like the checkers do, except I was four times as slow.

The screen wouldn't let me punch the numbers. I hit zero. It wouldn't beep. So I hit zero again. No beep. Again. And again.

Suddenly, boom, the machine caught up with all the zeroes I had been punching and registered sixteen zeros. You can't get rid of just a few, so I had to start over.

The people in line behind me began to grumble. Some left for other lines.

The woman who oversees the self-checkouts stood like a statue, refusing to help. That's why they call it self-checkout, I guess.

As a final humiliation, I pressed the total button before I realized I had a 20-pack of toilet paper underneath the cart. So I called the statue lady over to see how to add it to my bill.

After she re-opened my bill, she left to go be a statue again. But the toilet paper wouldn't scan. So there I sat, waving a huge 20-pack of toilet paper back and forth over the scanner like I was trying to waltz with it.

The whole awful experience took 20 long minutes.

After putting the stuff in the trunk, I got in the car and yelled "Rolling Stones!" at the review mirror.

"I do not understand you," my car replied. "Please try again."

I yelled something else real loud to make sure the rear view mirror heard me.

"There is no song with that title in your song library," it said.

I think I'll write one.