My lost battles

It all started so well. Bright morning, two hours to spare, just the time I need to get my bank accounts updated, join the mainstream, the carefree shining millions who do online banking without really trying, plus save myself dreary visits to the local branch and queues – freedom at last.
I have two letters to guide me, from the two banks I use. Both are friendly and reassuring. I also have two small gadgets with clickable buttons in bright colours. Should be quick and easy. Just follow instructions on screen.
I do.
The instructions don’t follow me. So I spend fifteen precious minutes, achieving nothing.
Only in Greek myth is there an equivalent of the profound frustration I feel when I am almost there, only to be informed that my password or my activation code or my user name is wrong and would I start again. For the first time ever I feel sympathy for Sisyphus, King of Corinth, nasty crafty psychopath, who ended up in Hades having to push a huge stone to the top of a hill, only to have it roll down again for another futile effort, in all eternity.
Except that I’ll cut down on eternity by ringing the 24/7 helpline now and get a human being to tame this dumb machine.
But what I get is a recorded voice, a medium-posh woman’s voice who asks me the very questions I wasn’t able to answer on-screen. I sink into baffled silence. She says “sorry, I didn’t hear your answer”. Of course you didn’t, you silly moo, I don’t have the answer, hence I can’t reply. She tries again, sounding like a patient long-suffering school teacher talking to a child with learning difficulties.
The same fiasco happens with my other account.
The worst thing beside the wasted time and the elevated blood pressure resulting from my attempts is the dreadful sense of one-sidedness, of the inability to relate to “the other”, because there’s no other, only a machine or a recorded voice that brings out the luddite in me. I am not an idiot, I’ve been leading a fairly successful life, coping with difficulties as they occurred, I even had some small triumphs now and then – but here I am, beaten by a piece of mindless, soulless software. Also, I feel left behind by the millions who know how to beat the software. I am left behind, unfit for purpose.
I guess I’ll have to visit both local branches tomorrow and not take it out on the innocent receptionist who will, at least, acknowledge my existence.


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