Friday, January 23, 2009

Meeting the 21st Century

That's right, friends, I have arrived. I've never been great with technology, despite my job in an internet-based group. The milestones in my life have been marked by my faulty knowledge, and trust, of technology.

Take my first week at college. Mom and Dad mailed a check for me to deposit into my account, so I go up to the swanky-looking machine in the student center, put the check in a deposit envelope, and start trying to jab it into every silver slot on the ATM. A friend walked by and asked what I was doing...

Me: It doesn't want my money. It won't take my check.

Guy: Did you put your card in and log into your account?

Me: Well no, why would I do that?

Guy: Then what are you looking for?

Me: The night drop slot.

Guy: Exit stage left, laughing.

I eventually figured that one out, only to be at the supermarket later with a roommate, a Tennessee native, mind you. We decided to try the Self Checkout Lane. She went first, swiping an item then taking a fraction of a second too long to bag it. "PLEASE BAG YOUR ITEM." Panicked, we looked at each other, while the thing yelled again, louder, "PLEASE BAG YOUR ITEM." We rushed through the transaction only to be baffled at the end when the fembot voice started up again, "PLEASE REMOVE UNSCANNED ITEM FROM THE BAGGING AREA." Translation? Stop stealing stuff.

We looked at each other, very confused, as the thing yelled again and started to attract attention. Brilliant girl that she is, my roommate rustled the bags and, like magic, the thing quieted down.

So it's no shock to tell you that I've never toyed with online bill pay. I don't even online bank. Sure, I check my balance there, but I like getting my paper statements. And not just because I enjoy killing trees, but because it's tangible and somehow feels more real. I have a statement from you that I have this amount of money. What the screen has is useless if I can't print it (which I can't, because the two printers at my apartments don't have the cords to link them to my computer. They do have extra paper and cartridges, though.).
It reminds me of when my brother was traveling in rural India and the couple in front of him told the gate agent they had "e tickets," a new thing at the time. As they tried to explain what an e ticket was, the agent started laughing and called another one over to hear it. Check these two out. They say they have tickets, but that they don't actually have them. Sure we'll assign you a seat. I mean, you'll have a boarding pass, you just won't have it.

But, with the crazy schedule coming up of honeymoon, travels, and city shifting, it seems crazy to depend on getting a bill mailed to you when you can get a notification over email and then pay it through your bank. Plus, as the envelopes always like to remind me, save a stamp.

Well guess what, it's pretty darn easy. Granted, I've only set up one and I've already marked next month in my calendar when I think the next bill will arrive, but we're building trust, me and the ebills. First mail merge, then iMovie, now bill pay... I may just take over the world after all.

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