I am old, too old and unwilling to change to survive in this modern world.
What has made me feel this way??? I have coped well with many inventions and so called “improvements” during my lifetime but recent experiences have made me wonder if it is maybe time to admit defeat and not leave the comfort of Oliver any more.
A recent trip to Scotland was quite an eye opener as to how modern Britain works. I travelled via London which is quite a culture shock when you are used to life in the Okanagan. Wherever you look there are literally thousands of people flocking by you, about fifty percent of them are openly talking to themselves. It is quite disconcerting when a complete stranger looks you in the eye and talks to you. Several times I asked people to repeat the question, only to have them glare at me and ignore me. It took a while till I realized that all these people had a wire jammed in their ear and were carrying on a hands free phone conversation. I guess they need to focus their eyes on something and quite often, it was me.
The railway stations are amazing, everything is automated and, for the country bumpkin, rather terrifying. I had (well, Dave had) purchased my rail tickets on line, prior to travelling. However, the printed e tickets have to be exchanged for regular train tickets before you can travel. This means going to a wall of ticket machines, finding the right sort of machine for your transaction then following a list of instructions. Trouble is, if you do not follow the instructions fast enough, you get kicked off the machine. When I got the instruction to enter your “eight digit process number” it took me a while to find out where on the ticket was the correct number as there are lots of different numbers on it. Too late, the machine kicked me out. I tried this three times before I got it right.
The next instruction was to enter the credit card, on which the purchase had been made, into the slot. By the time I hauled the credit card from my wallet, I had been kicked out again and a couple of people behind me were shuffling about. I tried to not let them distract me as there were lots of other machines, so I once again inserted the eight digit number, with credit card ready to be put in the slot once the instruction came. However, I didn’t put it in right the first two times and started to get panicky. A good Samaritan from behind came to help, he could see I was an out of town simpleton and I fully agreed with his assessment.
When the machine finally spit out the correct tickets, there were three of them, one for travelling with, one was a receipt “not to be used for travel” and one that didn’t seem to have any purpose. I guess the fellow in charge of the operation of designing machines just didn’t like “being green”.
Having finally got the correct ticket in my hand, I advanced to the main part of the station. Euston station is enormous and specially designed for idiots to get lost in, there are several levels of platforms to accommodate all the trains that pass through. There is also a further layer that must be half way to the centre of the earth. This layer contains the underground or “tube” trains. All the levels are connected by very steep escalators and myriads of corridors. A perfect place for the unwary to lose their way.
The station looks more like a food court than a place of travel and many people take advantage of this and eat on the train. I approached a man in a Hi Viz vest and asked him for assistance. He directed me to a huge electronic board on which were printed absolutely hundreds of destinations. Standing in front of the board were several hundred travellers all looking for their train to be listed.
I found the correct train and discovered it was to arrive on time, however there are so many trains coming and going that the actual platform number is not decided on until a few minutes before the train is due. As each train platform flashes onto the screen there is a huge exodus of people running to get to the train on time.
Once my destination flashed on, I joined the throng of people going north and hurried along, dragging my luggage down two escalators and several corridors. The train leaves on time whether you get on or not, so no time to dawdle. The Virgin train doors close automatically forty seconds before the trains go, once they close you cannot open them again, so no jumping on late. Breathless and exhausted, I found my seat and collapsed into it. I have got so accustomed to the relaxing drive from one place to another that we know in Oliver that this crazy race for a train seemed so wrong.
The final straw came on the train from London to Scotland. It was a six hour journey and I needed a bathroom break. British trains are very up to date, train travel is a common occurrence and every convenience is on hand including Wifi, tables for your lap top or your lunch, phone chargers and so many things that make travel more pleasurable.
Anyway…I approached the washroom, which are roomy enough to accommodate wheelchairs and pressed the button to open the door. The door slid open, I entered and pushed the button to close the door. Immediately, a perky female voice welcomed me, told me to take a seat and get comfortable. Looking round in alarm, I realized that the toilet was talking to me. Feeling rather conspicuous I got on with the job in hand while I listened to the toilet telling me that “though you may not think it, it is a nice job being a toilet, most people are very nice but, if you would be kind enough to not try to flush anything other than t.p., her job would be so much easier”. The toilet then wished me a pleasant day and said goodbye.
What is the world coming to when the toilet holds conversations with it’s users? Is it just me or do other people think it is ridiculous to have inanimate objects being given personalities?
I am back in my home, surrounded by all that is familiar, there is nothing here that speaks to me. Well the coffee table and shelves are yelling out to be cleaned, but in their subtle way of just lying there displaying the dust. My toilet is thankfully silent, in fact my whole home is rather lacking in the Big Brother effect of world travel. My home may be boring but then, so am I, I love it and we understand one another, no conversations needed.