I don’t get this one

Even though the phrase is a tagline for one of the most unfriendly companies in the world, I still believe “the future is friendly.” But every now and then something happens to say that we should temper technology with some respect for tried-and-true tradition.

money-fishIt’s one thing to move on and something else to move away from values that long ago earned their place beside the latest “advances.” Accepting a new thing shouldn’t have to be at the expense of an old one.

Here’s a case in point:

I had Sushi a few nights ago with a good friend at a charming place neither of us had been before. Our long-anticipated evening of trading stories and telling what we’d been up to was fueled by fine food and an attentive waiter. All good things come to an end and in time the bill arrived. In the familiar “let me get this one” rite that followed, my companion’s generosity won out over my own.

She produced her Platinum card and the conversation turned to when we’d meet again to make up for lost time.

We were sadly interrupted.

The waiter arrived with a cumbersome mechanical box into which he inserted my friend’s plastic. The machine refused to accept it. Something to do with chip vs. swipe. The second card, down a notch to Gold, worked. My sight and technology challenged companion now had to decide whether or not to tip, and to choose between a percentage and an amount.

Enjoy the spider roll, but don’t forget to do the math.

As the evening drew to an awkward close, I squirmed in sympathy, having been in the same situation myself. A miracle of micro and nanotechnology had wedged its way between old friends. We’d been drawn away from the best part of our conversation in the name of science.

We owe it to ourselves to be conscious of the trade-off between seeming convenience and simple humanity. The rush to do things because we can should not win over doing them the way we want to. We should try to remain the masters and not the servants of technology.

As fine as the food was, I won’t return to the sushi place with the cashier-in-a-box. Instead, I’ll go for a little less taste and a bit more grace.

12 years ago

1 Comment

  1. Being exposed to Canadian visitors and tourists here as I am, and an ex-patriated one at that myself, I am frequently advised by US citizens that Canadians will go to great lengths to find a reason, valid or otherwise, not to tip when the moment of truth arrives in the form of a dinner check, as in this example. Outfumbling his friend as well as he did is a practise for which Canadians visiting the US are famous, even though this particular eatery may have been in Canada, his greatest
    ploy was, upon the machine’s rejection of the Platinum card, letting her tunnel through through her presumably enormous purse to find a Gold card (not quite as impressive, but right up there) and offering that plastic up to the mechanical devise for its approval. And then the delightful discovery that all this waiter-created bother was ample reason to determine the size (or down-size) of the tip. At this point it may or may not have determined that no tip was warranted due to an interuption at a most delicate moment when a follow-up encounter was being staged Add to that the fact that the lady’s Platinum strata had been deflated and her Gold resourses had to be trotted out while her male companion sat their grinning, wondering if he’d have to roll out some hard cash after all to bail the lady out of this mess. Regardless of whether a romance followed (which was the purpose presumablly for the sushi bust) or not, the fact remains that once again, Canada earns her spurs as the second worst tipping nation in the world. The first being Australia.

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