The Digital Age or The End of the World as We Know It

By Roger Paradiso

I went into a CVS last week. There was no one at any of the registers. I felt like I was in The Twilight Zone. I called out. A voice told me to use the self-check. I stared at that worthless piece of AI and dread entered into my soul. Was I going to contribute to the loss of a worker’s job? I called out again. She said, “I’m the only clerk in the store. Use the self-check. It’s easy.”

That’s all I needed to hear. It was easy. Oh yeah, I’ll show you how easy it can be. You see, technology and me aren’t a good mix.

I approached the machine with a rush, hoping to scare it to hell and back. That didn’t work. I read the instructions and heard that AI voice that sounded like a soulless avatar from some science fiction movie. I pushed all sorts of digital buttons and scanned the product every which way but up. The damn thing wasn’t working.

IS IT TIME TO REBEL from the Evil Empire? Photo by Roger Paradiso.

I was starting to land some good punches to this AI robot. Good thing there were no other people in the store, and especially not a police officer. I gave it a final kick in the nuts and bolts and was contemplating the existential concept of stealing the product, since the AI didn’t work, when I heard a human voice. “Can I help you?” I looked around and thought I saw a hot model in red boots, but as my eyes refocused, I saw an old grandma about my age. “Yes, you can,” I said, as I moved to her register. “Couldn’t figure out the self-check?” she asked. “Oh no,” I said. “I figured it out. I’m saving your job.” She smiled and took the product, pointed to the credit card machine, and before you could say, “Have a good day,” I was out of there.

That’s what I like. A human at the other end of a transaction. It sort of makes me feel we’re going to be all right in the future. Let the revolution begin or hunger games begin. Whatever. I got out of the store before the cops came and checked on the busted self-check AI robot. Just another day in the Wild West digital age.

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