Is Convenient Better?


The Kroger company is test-marketing a smart shopping cart in Cincinnati.

“Krogo” allows you to shop by placing items in the cart and when you’re done, swipe the cart somewhere with your credit card and off you go without using the checkout line.

On the plus side, there’s no waiting in line and the additional handling of your purchases.


No interaction with a clerk or bagger.

We already have self-checkout lines which were preceded by express checkouts for folks with 12 or fewer items.

The latter only served to prove math isn’t taught very well in schools today because way too many folks thought a cartload was 12 or fewer items.

Years ago, Mom would take my three sisters and me with her to Weidle’s Meats in Mansfield, Ohio.

She’d stand before the glass windows of the big coolers and would point out the cuts she wanted.

The butcher would place those choices on that white paper atop the scale and would then wrap the choices up, tape it and mark a price on the package before handing it to my Mom.

At some time in the process the butcher would look at we kids and say, “How about a hot dog?”

My sisters would demurely refuse but I was always in the affirmative.

Then I would chide my sisters for saying, “No!” since I would have been happy to have 3 more wieners to chomp on.

On the way home, we’d pull into the service station to get some gas.

Used to be a day when you went to the gas station and a human being came out, and after you said, “Fill ‘er up!”, your gas would be pumped, your windshield de-bugged and you might get the oil checked, too.

The attendant always had one of those metal coin-changers on his waist and a red rag for wiping away dirt and grime from the hands.

If your tires needed air, they actually had that for free.

You’d turn the crank handle on the machine to your desired pressure and you’d get some “good” inflation.

Inside the service station, you might find a soft drink machine and a counter stand with some chewing gum and perhaps some of those peanut butter and cheese crackers.

Today, where you get gasoline, it resembles a small grocery store.

You pump the gas after swiping your card and the only time you might need to see another human is when the receipt-printer is malfunctioning.

Again, minimal human interaction.

Mom might drive to the bank and we’d go inside while she wrote a check or a deposit slip and there was actually cash and coin handled.

There’s be a teller than you talked with…face to face…in-person even

Remember the pens on chains?

We’d usually get a sucker or two.

Today, my wife takes a picture of checks on her phone and electronically deposits it in our account…we think.

Or, we drive up to a kiosk and use a plastic card to get money and we never see a teller.

Unless we drive up to the kiosk with the pneumatic air tubes and you stuff your 10 forms of ID in it and it’s all whisked away.

A person in a window 40 feet away comes on the intercom and asks how we might be helped.

Again… not much human contact.

We even stay out of stores and shop on-line, again missing an opportunity at personal contact all in the name of “convenience”.

Now, I understand that the only way businesses can really reduce costs is to reduce personnel and still find a way to provide a similar service.

But, we very social animals are being separated by “convenience”.

Then, toss in a flu pandemic and not only do we have to wear a mask and stay at least 6 feet apart, we can’t go anywhere that lots of people might be attending or visiting.

Let me get this straight.

Going to Walmart or Krogers with a mask is fine but going to a high school sporting event or church isn’t?

I think the height of absurdity is wearing a mask into a restaurant and then removing it when seated while the waitress continues to wear the mask.

Some folks are fine with the lack of social contact.

Good grief!

But, in our effort to make things more convenient, we’re drifting apart.

it’s no wonder were are politically divided; we’re really physically divided.

Now, I’m not going to suggest that we need to return to the “Good, old days”.

My experience has been that they weren’t nearly as good as we remembered.

Furthermore, our fears are usually worse that reality.

Remember, this is from a youngster who helped his Father build a fallout shelter in the family basement during the Cuban missile crisis.

My glass has always been half full.

So, if you have concerns about life today, what have you done to change things?

How can we come together?

Might I suggest a small step?

Put your phone away, look someone in the eye and say, “Hi!”.

How can it hurt?…as long as you’re masked.

Noam Chomsky told us, “Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it”.


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