chris/CO149 (co149) wrote,

Fear of Technology -- Advanced Studies

The coach fleet here at King County Metro Transit is equipped with the CENTSaBILL Electronic Registering Farebox. If you're reading this, there's a high probability that you have seen this farebox, and have inserted money into it or slid your magnetically-striped pass through its Slot of Joy. If all goes well, you will be rewarded with a cheery little beep and receive no hostility from the bus driver. Thank you for your cooperation, citizen! We now know where you live and where your work. At least to the nearest bus stop.

But what did you do the last time it didn't beep? Or maybe it made that warbling noise like your last PacMan just died.

(Now, as a busy transit operator, I do not care what noise the fare box makes at you. I don't care whether you slide your pass or not. I can't tell you this, though. The contadores de frijoles would be after my ass.)

There are quite a number of people who are greatly bothered by certain failure noises given off by the farebox. They will swipe the pass again and again waiting for their fix. And somehow they know when I'm making the box beep manually. After several months of asking myself why, I came up with the answer.


These people have the not-so-irrational fear that if they can't properly kowtow to THE_COMPUTER that THE_COMPUTER will have them recycled into jelly. Or at least sent to jail for fare evasion.

Most of my experience with technophobia has been with adoption, that is just getting people to use the new tech, convincing them that it doesn't bite. I recall the great efforts banks made when ATMs were first installed to get the happy customers to use the machine. I even recall the new fareboxes coming out, though I wasn't driving then.

But now we see what happens after the new technology is competely integrated. While most people just take it in stride, there are a good number who see the farebox as an enforcement tool rather than an accounting tool.

(And we know who you are, too...)

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