Carl Bosch admits to not being handy with the things that would make him seem more manly….and less embarrassed.
Men change the oil in our cars, lay under the bathroom sink and play with the plumbing, and we “measure twice and cut once” when we’re putting up the crown molding. We love gizmos and gadgets and we try to repair everything. Call an expert! Over my dead body! We even like the new stuff…computers and the electronics in our cars, things like that.
But I’m not so sure that there aren’t a lot of men just like me. I’d rather discuss the movie grosses on Monday for the previous weekend than discussing water pumps. You want to go to the gym and exercise, I’m in. Want to grab a bottle of wine or two and take a jaunt into the countryside, I’m there. Watch a college football game at a bar…definitely. Fine woodworking…beyond my knowledge base,… repair the grout…really?
I’m not handy, but I’m helpful. And I’m willing to work hard. I painted the entire exterior of my house over two summer vacations, but that doesn’t take skill; just patience, determination and an affinity for ladders. I blow autumn leaves like a mother…day after day after day…until those leaves are no more. And I like (God forbid I should say it aloud) shoveling snow. I do the grunt work that others don’t want to do and I’m good at it. I don’t complain and I stick to the job. It’s just not technical or skilled. My old man taught me nothing about carpentry or cars and I’m totally O.K. with that.
But those damn machines at the local supermarket make me crazy. I actually shop all the time. Almost every single day. I have some of the aisles memorized. I can tell you how far down the row you have to go to get the pasta. And the cheese is not necessarily near the milk, and if you want better cheese, well that, of course, is over near the deli. But I’m trying to get in there and get out. I don’t want to spend my life comparing prices of crackers.
And I always go to the self check-out. Sometimes I even take that little radar gun to try and expedite the trip. You zap the bar code as you toss the item in your carriage and it adds up automatically. It also “ching-chings” and tells you where the discounts are. I imagine my daughters would have loved it when they were little; kind of a grown-up version of a game they used to play called Mall Madness that also used to “ching-ching” and alert you to sales in the mall. And here’s a real throwback…I actually use cash money…little pieces of paper that have numbers like 1 or 5 or 10 or 20. You put them in, you get change back. Correct change. Can anyone remember the days long ago when you could tell that your cashier was mathematically challenged when you gave them some extra change and said something like, “Just give me a ten dollar bill back.” They looked at you as if you had stepped off the Martian probe. Cash is great, no pin number required, no existential questions regarding debit or credit, nothing extra.
But wait. The machines just don’t work. Or maybe they do when they feel like it. Technology, woe is me. Fancy machines with no people attached. Sometimes they won’t read your card or some items are screwy and won’t scan (read produce) or maybe they’re simply programmed to torture human beings. I have heard a disembodied female voice say “Remove the last item from the bag!” more times than my wife has said “I love you.” And she says that a real lot. Perhaps if they only hung up once in a while it would be O.K., but no way. Incessantly, persistently, often and more often are the time windows when they either quit or take a rest.
Of course, the store has a human being there with a little electronic gizmo that will help you when you need it. They’re very nice, but a bit harried. Now this person is called an “Attendant”. But look at the picture very closely. That figure of dark authority, the solid, rectangular desk, I think it would be much more appropriate to call that person “Judge”. Maybe the attendant should just come over and say, “You can’t work this machine? You’re an idiot. Step away from the automatic checkout, leave your items and go home”. Of course, the attendant has to pay attention to about six or eight of these malfunctioning machines all at the same time so they’re always busy, and your hope for a quick escape is doomed.
At my local grocery store there is often a youngish boy assigned to this job. I’m certain he’s fifteen, but if I saw him on the street I would think he is twelve…or nine. He can run the machines but I can’t? And it’s always either him or a friendly, cute teenage girl who helps me out when I’m buying condoms, Gingko Biloba, Weight Watchers diet drinks, dirty martini mix, or Beano tablets to take before I start on the martinis.
That machine will be wonderful someday in the future. Maybe next week, or next year, or a decade from now. It’s just not today, and it just doesn’t work for me.
But I still get to ride my carriage from the store through the parking lot to my car. Worth the trip.