Kelly Scott: Could you be a little more condescending? ‘Cause I’m not real great with subtlety.
—Lake Placid (1999)
I haven’t been getting along with some technology lately. Here are two examples:
1) There’s a snack machine I’ve been known to use from time to time. The machine takes both bills and change, and it has that little display window above the cash acceptor that tells you how much you’ve put in, when it’s vending, what selection you’re making and so on. When it’s not doing any of those things, it defaults to a generic message that’s too long to fit in the window, so you have to wait for it to scroll through if you want to see the whole thing.
That message is: ENJOY SOME CANDY NOW
That’s it. No subtlety, no lower case, no punctuation. It’s actually kind of pushy, especially coming from a machine. What if I don’t want candy? Maybe I came in for the little bag of Fritos. Maybe I’m actually looking to use the soda machine NEXT to the candy machine. Maybe I’m just in there because I needed five minutes of peace. I don’t know why but that message really irritates me.
2) When I moved into my new office back in September, I picked up a few appliances for the office for my convenience: a small refrigerator (one of those dorm-type cubes), a microwave oven and a coffee maker, which I use to make a pot of tea every morning. Now, the microwave oven is a typical jobbie, 900 watts with a bunch of pre-set buttons for my convenience, even if everything I do involving them seems to set the oven to three minutes at full power. There’s also a convenient 30 second key, which is nice for those times when I’m pouring myself more tea at 10:30 and I realize that the coffee maker shut itself off a half-hour earlier.
Every once in awhile, when heating my lunch or if I need more time on the tea or something, I’ll punch in an amount of time directly. At home I’ve gotten into a habit that saves fractional seconds of time, but I do it anyway no matter how dumb it sounds. If I’m cooking something in my microwave for a minute and a quarter, I’ll punch in “:75” rather than “1:15”. A lot of times if I need a minute and a half I’ll put in “:88” because it’s just quicker than “:90”. And so on. The home microwave has no problem at all with this. The work microwave?
Let me ask you something. Have you ever done a search on the web, and you accidentally misspell something, so when the results come back the search engine asks you if you meant something else?
“Did you mean Nut Allergies?” There’s something grating about the way it does that. It’s sort of like when you go to a Renaissance Faire, and some of the people there are taking it waaaay too seriously, and they refuse to talk to you unless you say stuff archaically. “Prithee do repeat thyself, milord: what is this ‘Porta-Potty’ of which thee speaks?” Shut up, in a couple of hours you’re going to get in your busted-ass 1999 Ford Probe and drive home; you’re not riding out on a horse, ya fecking peasant.
Anyway, it’s like that with the work microwave. If I punch in “:88” and then hit Start, it changes to “1:28” and begins its countdown. “Did you mean ‘1:28’?”
Shut up, work microwave. At least the home microwave knows the difference between AM and PM.