Re Tales – Part Three – ” I Saw It On A Website. “

In the good old days ( Elvis, dinosaurs) the potential customer would have come in and said ” I saw it in the newspaper. ” or ” I saw it in a magazine. “. Occasionally the special ones fronted the counter and said ” I saw it written in letters of fire in the sky. “. It paid to not doubt them.

Now it is ¬†” I saw it on the internet. ” What they saw may have been an announcement of a new product or the discontinuation of an old one. Or a recall of exploding bed socks. Whatever, they’ve come into the shop with knowledge of something. The knowledge is valuable to them and it might be so for the shop assistant as well.

If the thing they saw was on the website of the shop where they are, the shop assistant can pray silently that the website had the correct price, image, and stock level for the goods. And that the thing that was shown is still somewhere on the premises.  Even if it is holding the loo door open, at least it exists. Unfortunately there is a gap between what the best IT department can show and what can be plonked on the counter.

If the thing they saw was on another shop’s site all hell could break loose – particularly if the ” shop ” is some vague web address in Kowloon. The customer has taken the internet information as the word of God and any attempt on the part of the shop assistant to explain that it is unrealistic here in Australia will fall on deaf ears.

Unfortunately deaf ears are sometimes attached to loud mouths and angry tempers. These are fine, as long as they can be confined within the head of the customer. Like road rage, let someone else experience it.

No shop assistant is required by any law – of God, the land, economics, or thermodynamics – to match any price that is waved at them from a mobile phone screen. That may or may not be a real offer from a real seller, but it is not a seller who is paying rent on the premises, wages to the staff, or buying paper for the shop loo. The shop price should be fair and calculated to give adequate return to the proprietor for the effort of business – it is most often just that, and any attempt to oyster-knife discounts based on a badly-spelled website can best be referred back to Kowloon.

Or Wuhan.

The Bookworm And The Screenfly

I sat in my local bus shelter this week, heading for town. I had a book, so I was fine. The bus was due in 10 minutes.

A car went by on the street. A man tooted his horn and waved…so I waved back. Then sat there puzzling about who he could be. Didn’t recognise the car at all… Then I turned to my left and saw the teenager sitting looking at her mobile phone screen.

On a chance, I asked whether the horn tooter was for her. Yes, apparently it was her dad going by. I gave a sigh of relief – I was off the hook. He might now be wondering why I waved but at least I wasn’t ignoring someone I should know. We went back to book and screen.

And the bus went by. Neither of us had thought to watch out for it, get up, or signal it.

There was nothing to do but wait another ten minutes…but put away the book and the phone at the eight-minute mark.

See? Being absent-minded is not just a sin of old age.

The Dating Site

I do not concern myself with dating sites. I am married and have been for 47 years. And 47 years’ll date you, I can tell you now…

But I am acquainted with people who have participated in this sort of electronic crown and anchor wheel. They are the equivalent of optimistic gamblers, right up to the point when they get thrown out into the car park. They bring much the same attitude to the dating site.

Of course this sort of thing is not new – mail order brides and husbands have existed ever since people learned to write lying letters. And in the old days, the process was dead serious. Both parties knew that the business of acquaintance, courtship, love, and marriage was likely to be written in a Sears catalogue – not a romantic novel. They both invested everything they had in whatever they got.

Now it seems a lot lighter in tone – and a lot more automated. I am told there are dating apps for your mobile phone and you peruse a menu or a womenu and take your pick. At the same time, the pick is looking at your picture and trying to see around the Instagram filter to find out if you have both ears on one side of your head. You are allowed to swipe right or left. Presumably the thing is not so advanced that you put coins in and the loved one drops out of a slot on the phone, but designers are always at work…

Is it romantic? In a way, yes…because the amount of footling and distortion that goes on with internet images means that anything you see is about 146% fantasy. You are mooning over pixels.

Is it practical? Possibly…if you advertise the desire for a stinker of a mate, I’ll bet you’ll get one. Can’t complain about the service there.

Is it safe? No. If you wanted safety you could sit at home and read a book about it.

Is it fun? I don’t know. Fun may have changed somewhat in 47 years and I might be using a very old operating system. Don’t ask me to update it.