Self-service Doesn’t Smile

Self-service was the exciting new thing in the seventies. First, gas stations started to be self-serve — no more waiting for that slow-moving attendant. Then teller machines showed up outside the banks, and you could get cash whenever you wanted.

These days, self-service is everywhere you look — bank deposits on your mobile phone, online shopping for shoes, checkout kiosks at the stores, check-in kiosks at the airports. The inventors of the ATM machines would be proud.

But I’m a little less excited these days. I’ve noticed that I’m happiest when I’m greeting familiar faces behind the counters. We share a smile, maybe a few words. Sometimes we share something more, like the Jamba Juice employee this morning. She saved my kid from certain St. Patrick’s Day pinching, supplying a temporary tattoo with green on it.

Yes, self-service is very convenient and time-saving. But the problem with self-service is that you’re on your own, all by yourself. And when you have a problem, even something as minor as not wearing green, who wants to be alone? And if even if you’re having a really good day, self-service doesn’t smile back.

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