Normally I go to the drive-thru, but on this day the line was long, so I went inside. No one goes inside at 5:50 in the morning, so service was swift. But not having been physically inside a McD's in a while I was surprised to see that the POS terminal was now all pictures.
Back in the old-timey days, we had these things called cash registers. The cashier would put in the amount of the item for sale, and the machine would add it up. (I know some of you remember those things) They were loud and big and had a lot of moving parts. They required that the person operating them knew what the prices were of the items that they were ringing out. I had friends who were grocery-store cashiers who literally knew the prices of thousands of items on sight, and could bust through a full belt faster than a modern scanner.
Somewhere in the late seventies and into the eighties, cash registers were replaced in favor of point-of-sale terminals. These computerized doohickies help keep inventory, sales trends and prices under control. In fast food restaurants, they would have a key for each menu item, with a little piece of paper under a plastic cap. That moved along to a touch-sensitive pad with an overlay, and currently to touch screens with virtual buttons with the names of items.
Apparently now, one is no longer required to read. That looks like a Big Mac...
Before you get all uppity with me about accessibility and whatever, stop. I'm not talking about that. McDonald's is not using this technology to help the visually impaired. They are using it to help the English-impaired.
Fifteen years ago, I probably knew over a hundred phone numbers off the top of my head. I'm lucky if I can recall five right now. Part of that is age, possibly, but more likely it's that I dial by tapping on a picture of your face, or your kids, or whatever else you have as your Facebook profile picture, because that is what my 'droid displays in my contacts list. Or, if I'm really feeling lazy, I can just tell the phone to call you.
I used to be quite proud of my library skills as well. The town I grew up in had a wonderful research library in it, with two entire floors of reference and huge microfiche collection. Given time and patience, I could find almost anything. Usually a side benefit was learning a bunch of stuff I wasn't looking for along the way. Now, I Google something (like microfiche) on my smartphone and viola! Instant knowledge! It still feels like I've lost something along the way.
I used to have to... what's that word? Proofread letters and articles. Now it's done for me. Spelling? Covered. Making sure a photo is properly composed and lit? I'll fix in in post. Listen to a whole album? I'll just download the song.
I'm dumber than I ever was.
Don't get me wrong, I am not a Luddite by any means. I love tech. I'm a Google addict. A smartphone ninja. Social media junky.
Would it kill you, McDonald's to make your cashiers have to be able to read "Big Mac?"
This is not one of those "This is America - speak English!" rants. ( A position I support, by the way) This is one of those "Would it kill us to put a little effort in?" rants. Because the end result is going to be an America (and world) that is dumber, lazier, and incapable of leadership.