I’ve always had a saying when I see technology replacing the human thought process, “I blame it on the digital clock”. That saying, while it’s purely tongue-in-cheek, is because it seems that technology has affected too many people and they have lost the ability to reason; they’ve lost the ability to think things through.
Don’t get me wrong, technology is great and it has done wonders for us all and made life much simpler. But the downfall to all of this technology is that sometimes people rely on it far too much. So much so that they can’t seem to function without it – they can’t think unless they can use a computer. I blame the digital clock because that invention alone has made it so people no longer have to “do the math”.
If you think I’m joking, show a teenager an analog clock without numbers and ask them what time it is. Some adults that I know can’t tell time unless it’s digital. We have become far too complacent and rely on computers to do the work for us. Who physically proof reads anything now that we have spell check? Hell, even some teachers are allowing kids to use text-speak on school papers. Something’s gotta give!
Online Parts Catalogs
When going on-line to search for parts from auto parts chain-stores, technology can be great if you’re searching for a specific part for a specific car. But try to find an accessory for your car, or try to find a part that didn’t belong on your car in the first place and you’ll find out that on-line catalogs don’t work so well.
Too many of the chain-store web sites force you to select a vehicle in order to find a part. If you don’t select a vehicle, you won’t get to see very many of the parts in their inventory. Their web sites are only good for searching direct replacement parts for cars that have not been modified in any way.
When I needed a new radiator cap for my 1965 Plymouth Belvedere, I first checked online to see if they have it. The problem is that I have an aftermarket radiator, so selecting a vehicle is a moot point. I just wanted to see if they have the Stant radiator cap that I wanted, but the web search returned a screen that stated, “please select a vehicle”.
It’s a real pain because most parts stores are a bit of a drive from me and I’d like to see if they have it before I take the drive. If I call and ask for the part, you know what they do: they ask me what vehicle it’s for.
When I do go into the parts store and ask for a radiator cap, again the kid behind the counter asks what car I have. When I tell him that I have an aftermarket radiator, he asks who made the radiator (as if that matters to his parts catalog). When I ask to see the radiator caps, he tells me he needs to know what car it’s for. I’m starting to see where their web page scripting is coming from.
I miss the days when some old guy behind the counter knew about cars and engines, and he could tell you from experience what parts would work, and he knew how to cross-reference parts. These days, non-enthusiasts are behind the counter and they can only tell you what an electronic catalog tells them. Is it their fault? Probably not, but unless they’re enthusiasts I can’t understand why they would want to sling parts over a counter for a living.
Granted, there are a few people who are still passionate about cars, but there are still others who do it because they didn’t want to sling burgers anymore. Computers have made it so you don’t really have to know about cars, you just have to be able to make selections. I blame the digital clock.
Technology and Cognitive Thought
But it doesn’t stop there, technology has even replaced the act of “checking the shelf”. How many times have you asked for a part and the guy never leaves his command post, but he can tell you with complete certainty that they are out of stock because the computer says so? Can’t they just take a look to be sure? Why have we let the computer do our checking for us, when we all know that a person could have easily made a mistake on the computer?
Typically, when the parts store doesn’t have the part, the clerk tells me the next closest store has it, and how many, and they send me on my way. When I get there, they don’t have the part on the shelf, but they tell me the other store shows one.
And the cycle begins, back to square one. Prior to all this technology, the person would simply check the shelf, but now they only check the computer. I blame the digital clock.
One day I asked a parts counterman if he had a particular part in stock. He didn’t show it on his computer, but asked me if I checked NAPA. I wasn’t at NAPA – I was at his parts store. It makes me wonder why a guy would suggest the competition instead of checking to see if he could get the part for me. In my day, he would would have ordered the part, not send me elsewhere.
I tried to order a pair of engine mounts a couple of months ago and looked them up on line first to get the part number. I called the store closest to me and the guy told me he had 8 in stock. When I got there, he handed me two boxes but the parts in the boxes were not the engine mounts that I needed. I told him they were the wrong parts, but he assured me that was the part number I asked for.
I looked at the box and that was indeed the part number I asked for, but those weren’t the right parts. He didn’t bother to look them up to see a picture, his computer said that the part number matched that part and he said, “What do you want me to do? That’s what you asked for.”
After our two-minute banter, I gave up and left the store without parts. I still needed my engine mounts, so I went to their next closest store and asked if they had them. They told me they could have them by that afternoon, so I left and waited for their call. This time, though, I let them look up the parts.
When I arrived, the parts were there and wouldn’t you know it they were wrong again. The guy there also told me that was what I ordered, but this time I was able to convince him to compare the part to a catalog picture of the part. He acknowledged that the parts were mispackaged and told me he would check another store.
When he called a third store, they had the mounts that I needed, based on the part number. He said, “I can have them by noon tomorrow.” I was skeptical, so I asked him something that I felt was not an unusual request. I asked, “Can you have them do a visual on the part first?”
Being that two stores had the right boxes with the wrong parts, it seemed like a reasonable approach. But the guy told me that it would be too much trouble to have them look at the parts physically. I was beside myself.
The next day, the parts arrived and when they called me I asked them to open the boxes and describe the part. I asked, “Is the part square or round?” She put me on hold, and when she came back she said they’re round – wrong parts again. Fortunately, I hadn’t paid for them so I told her they were wrong and I went to a competitor’s store to buy the right parts.
When I got back home, I emailed the corporate office and informed them of the problem. I was sure they would want to know that the parts were mispackaged, and that not one of the “parts professionals” I dealt with was willing to rectify the situation and get the proper parts, you know, to retain a customer. It’s been over 7 months and I haven’t received a reply from the corporate office.
I blame the digital clock.