Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Our Addiction to Automation

Do you think things are better here? A local believer where we serve told me he wanted to come to the U.S. because everything here is better. Granted, there are many, many things that make life in these United States a delightful and desireable place to live.

Those desireable things sometimes create unrealistic dependencies. Take the automated car wash, for example. I could get out there with a hose and bucket of water, as I did in years (ahem, decades) gone by, and wash the heavy spring pollen off our car. After all, even a 14-year-old car needs lots of TLC. And the pollen was an embarrassment to me when I drove down the road. My blue car was yellow-green; even the windshield. It happened from one day to the next--literally.

Yes, I could have washed that car the old-fashioned way. But I wanted to use the automatic car wash. In our city in South America, automated means the dude washing it uses a high-pressure hose to rinse it.

So I went to the gas station where our daughter got hers washed. I bought gas first, another automated feature included for payment. At the pump I was offered a car wash. I selected the best; nothing but the best for this Baby Blue '94 Lincoln. I purchased the gasoline and car wash, filled the car, and drove around to the entrance. There sat a sign: "Out of Order." Great. I went back around front and asked for a refund. The lady told me she could not issue a refund, to go to their other store, less than 1/4 mile from this one.

I drove over there and tried to enter the code. Code rejected. I went in to speak to the manager. He said he would have to issue another code. The attendant told him that their car wash was also out of order. So he reluctantly refunded my money.

By now I was determined to get a car wash. I drove to another station that had a car wash. I drove to the entrance and proceeded to feed my bills into the machine. The machine rejected my 5-dollar-bill. I selected a wash of lesser value and fed ones into the machine. It rejected the last bill, but I rescued the thing with 4 quarters.

Now I finally entered to get the much-needed car wash. The truth is, by now, I needed a good soaking, too. The fancy, automatic machine rolled backwards to soak the car; it stopped after 4 feet and rolled forward. It was broken. The best I got was a quick rinse. No wax. No pre-soak. None of the things I paid for.

I was flabbergasted. All the fancy things we can do, such as post blogs and control our entire house from one computer. And I could not get a decent car wash.

It showed me my dependence and delirium.

Life should be simple and fun. It's good. Enjoy the ride.


Michael and Kristi Rains said...

Hey Kevin,
You forgot to mention that you had to get out of your car and pump the gas yourself. That is something that I am going to have to remember when we return next year. I haven't pumped my own gas in over 2 years. We miss y'all.
Reverendo Lluvias

Kevin, Somewhere in South America said...

Hey, man,

You're right. I have been here long enough that I have gotten used to that. folks up here would not believe that we don't have to pump our own down there. And no one carries our groceries to our car here, either. Can you believe that? What ever happened to SERVICE?

Catch you later,