Before the computer there was the calculator
Before the calculator was the adding machine
Before the adding machine was the abacus
Before the abacus were our fingers and toes
Before our fingers and toes were scratches on a cave wall
And before the electronic scale was something with weights on it
Yesterday I stopped into a local United States Post Office to ship a small package to a customer. The postmaster was on duty. He informed me he was having electrical problems and his computer was down. I just stood there. He tried to get his computer to work again. It was not cooperating. He again informed me his computer was down. I just stood there.
Finally I inquired whether he needed a computer to sell me postage for a large envelope.
Ah, he understood me. I was expecting him to do it the old fashioned way; even if it required him using MY fingers and toes to determine the postage. He asked me if I had exact change. I was $.08 short. He stood there not knowing what to do. A gentlemen who cleans the building offered me the $.08 and the postage was affixed.
Tip #27 in my booklet 50 Ways To Have Fun at Work, Improve Employee Morale and Hopefully Not Get Fired suggests that employees work for a day without computers for the fun of it. Now personally I don’t think most employees would be able to survive a day without technology; companies don’t train them on what to do should systems go down. But if we had to work for day without computers I bet Gen Y would squirm or turn to their smartphones while Boomers would get something done manually.
I’ve read countless Facebook and Twitter posts about people goofing off at work because the computer systems are down. Seriously? There is nothing these people can be doing; nothing that can be accomplished without technology? No way to improve a system or stay in touch with a customer?
I’m all for technology and the ease, convenience, savings and every other benefit it has provided; but perhaps it’s time to train people to think on their own once again? We’ve all seen the frightened cashier who closes the register too fast and the amount he or she is supposed to return to us vanishes from the display. Panic! Where’s the popcorn!
And in the case of US Postal Service, which seems to have their fare share of Boomers still on the payroll, perhaps they should have a mandatory training day dedicated to how to provide customer service if the computer doesn’t work.