A week or so ago I was in a convenience store, checking out, when the cashier told me that if I put in my phone number, I would get $1 off.
So I did.
But it didn’t work. So I tried my number again. It still didn’t go through.
The cashier put in her phone number and went ahead and saved me a dollar. And I appreciated her doing that.
Now, I was paying with a debit card, which was supposed to make the transaction go much faster.
Swiping a debit card is much faster than counting out the cash in your wallet and seeing if you have the extra nickel and a couple of pennies floating around in your pocket — then waiting for change.
I could start droning on here about how the price for everything continues to end with 99 cents — plus 6% sales tax — but I won’t. I’ll save that complaint for another week when I’m in the mood to do math.
Still, I can’t help but notice that each transaction seems to take longer and longer.
We aren’t just swiping cards and signing a slip of paper anymore.
There are more questions and prompts with each transaction.
Are you a rewards member? Put in your phone number for more savings.
What’s your ZIP code?
Would you like to make a donation today?
And maybe the store’s internet connection is slow that day — or not working altogether.
Maybe you didn’t put your card in correctly or you took it out too soon.
Sometimes there’s just an overall error and your card gets rejected and you’re left standing in line wondering if your bank account is somehow empty.
You try another card while wondering if your last deposit cleared or if hackers drained your account.
And while you are trying to maintain your calm in the store and pay for your groceries, all you really want to do is run out and check your bank balance on your phone to make sure you aren’t broke.
Sorry — that was a lot.
But hey, even with all those questions and prompts at the register, a debit card is still light years faster than paying by check. I mean, I assume that’s the case. I haven’t used a check in a store in like a decade.
So back to that convenience store, I couldn’t help but look at the clerk that evening and say, “Remember when all this technology was supposed to make things go faster.”
And really, that is the case, for the most part.
I remember an AT&T television campaign from the 1990s in which Tom Selleck provided viewers glimpses of technology that could be coming in the future.
An interesting side note, the commercials were directed by filmmaker David Fincher, whose latest movie “Mank” scored 10 Academy Award nominations this year and won two.
Anyway, one of those commercials that resonated most with me asked “Have you ever paid a toll without slowing down?”
Growing up in Maryland, I spent plenty of hours waiting in the toll lines at the Bay Bridge. The idea that we could pay the toll without stopping was a game-changer in 1993.
Now we have that, but long backups at the bridge continue unabated.
The other night I wanted to play some music via my iPhone. Opening an app and picking the song is certainly faster than fast forwarding a cassette tape or gingerly inserting a CD to make you don’t scratch it.
But my Music app crashed. I had to clear it, then delete it, then redownload it, then update my computer software and then finally I could play the song I wanted to hear. Though I probably could have just Youtubed it.
In the grand scheme of things, these are pretty petty complaints. There are so many ways technology has sped things up and increased our access to information — to the news, to books and to one another.
So I won’t sit here and bemoan technology. But do I really need to answer so many questions at the cash register?
Daniel Divilio is the editor of the Kent County News. Email him at ddivilio@the